Historic Portsmouth house where duke was killed is yours for £1.5m... and you get the murder weapon!

THE Portsmouth house where the Duke of Buckingham was assassinated by a disgruntled naval officer has gone on the market for £1.5m '“ and it comes with the weapon used to kill him.

Friday, 21st July 2017, 1:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:34 am
Buckingham House in Old Portsmouth Picture:  Garth Groombridge
Buckingham House in Old Portsmouth Picture: Garth Groombridge

The house where the Duke of Buckingham was assassinated by a disgruntled naval officer has gone on the market for £1.5m - and it comes with the weapon used to kill him.

The historic property in High Street, Old Portsmouth, was an inn in 1628 when George Villiers, a good friend of King Charles I, visited and was knifed in the heart by Lieutenant John Felton.

The officer believed he was doing Britain a service by killing the Duke who, as Lord High Admiral of the Fleet, was hugely unpopular following some disastrous naval campaigns.

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Felton was hung from the gallows in London and his body brought back to Portsmouth, where it was left to rot hanging in chains.

The 16th century inn was later renamed Buckingham House which became something of a macabre tourist attraction. A blue plaque highlighting its grim past hangs on the front of it.

In recent years the house has been restored by owner Ian Young, who has been fascinated by the building since he was a boy at the school next door.

He has now put the Grade II* listed six-bed house up for sale for the first time in about 70 years with estate agents Morris Dibben.

Incredibly, Mr Young has the 3ins silver-gilt dagger that is believed to have killed the Duke.

After the murder, the weapon was presented to Charles I who was staying at the nearby Southwick estate.

The dagger remained at the estate until the 1980s when contents of the property were sold off at auction and Mr Young bought it. He will leave it behind in the six-bed house as part of the sale.

Mr Young, 64, rented a room at the property 26 years ago to run his business, organising exhibitions at stately homes.

He gradually increased the rooms he leased until the owner eventually sold him the building 10 years ago.

In the 1620s the inn had been prepared for a visit by Charles I with special panelling in his proposed bedchamber. But on the day of the murder it was thought too dangerous for him to venture into the old High Street and so his visit was cancelled.

When Mr Young carried out renovation work he uncovered more of the building’s history, including the discovery of bedchamber panels.

Mr Young said: ‘I was always fascinated by the building. I went to school next door and I used to walk past the plaque outside all the time.

‘When I was looking for somewhere for my business I saw in a local paper that a room was available to rent and rushed over to view it.

‘One room led to two and then three and I ended up leasing most of the building.

‘I was going to take out a long lease when out of the blue he offered to sell it to me.

‘I started researching and unearthed all kinds of things. We uncovered some panels that had been plaster-boarded over and an expert from English Heritage dated them to the 1620s.

‘The illustrations on them are like coded messages for loyalty to the crown. Unfortunately the cost of renovating that one room would have been over £100,000 so we took photographs and then had to cover it over again.

‘I also have the dagger that is believed to have killed the Duke. On the day of the murder the King was staying at the Southwick estate, the last lady of the Borthwick-Norton family died in the 1980s and they cleared the house.

‘A lot of smaller items were taken to a local auction house including this knife. I had it dated and the silver banding and handle seem to be completely right for the time.

‘It was wrapped in brown paper with a not that said ‘reputed to be the dagger used to kill Buckingham’.

‘I’ve also got a copy of the note which Felton had on him when he killed Buckingham. Thinking he might be killed committing the murder it said ‘don’t blame me, blame yourself for not having rid the world of this despicable person’.

‘There are also remnants of chains in the walls of the cellar that we believe is from where he was chained up after the murder.

‘I’ve put a huge amount of work into it, it’s been a labour of love but now I think it’s someone else’s time to be caretaker of this incredible building.’

The property was first licensed in 1523 when it was Le Greyhounde inn and some of the timbers inside have been dated to even earlier than that.

By 1628 it was Ye Spotted Dogge, a plaque on the front of the house commemorates the event.

In his diary in 1661 Samuel Pepys mentions this property, writing how he went to ‘visit the room where Buckingham was killed’.

The house has three reception rooms, a large kitchen, a prepping kitchen, cellar, two utility rooms, six bedroom, five en suites and a family bathroom.

It has numerous period features including panelled walls, exposed beams and large open fireplaces.

The house, which is opposite the Duke of Buckingham pub, could also be run as a bed and breakfast. It has a large garden of 1,722 sq ft, perfect for entertaining up to 60 guests.