Fidler’s castle

I have just seen a fantastically creative scheme to get round the restrictive planning laws that we have in the UK.

Fiddlers castle

On New Homes From Hell (on ITV1) a farmer called Robert Fidler described how he built a house in secret, surround by massive haystacks, and then kept it hidden for four years.

He owned some green belt land, but knowing that he wouldn’t get planning permission to build a house on it, he decided to try to exploit a loop whole in the law which states that if a council doesn’t object to a new build property after four years, then planning is not required.

So all Robert needed to do was hide his house for 4 years.



Then once the time had passed, he pulled down the bales of hay to reveal his very own castle.


Fiddlers castle 

Robert has lived there since August 2006, but he is not in the clear yet. The council are trying to have it demolished saying that, since no-one was given a chance to see the house, the 4 year exemption is invalid.

61 thoughts on “Fidler’s castle”

  1. They should pull it down pronto, the bloke knew it was very likely to happen in any case, so more money than sense. What a pillock.

  2. Fantastic idea!, lets all build big houses in our gardens and behind straw bails, and perhaps we should encourage developers and illegal immigrants to do the same thing! Anyone supporting this idiot needs thier heads examining.

  3. I also watched homes from hell showing Fidlers Castle, i thought the end result was a beautiful building, it would be such a shame for it to be demolished, even though it didnt have planning permission.

  4. what is the latest situation with planning? have the fidlers had to appeal against an “enforcement order”?
    It is typical that this is an offence against the persons in the council and nothing to do with the acceptability of the construction.. it is not great for Britain. The hall should have been named “Sodham Hall”
    I solute you Christopher Howarth

  5. Very Good. Made us all laugh at work! most people cant afford to buy houses these days I just wish I thought about it first!!
    Good luck!!!

  6. I think its fair play i see no reason why it needs to be removed the council waste so much time targeting people for petty things they waste vast amounts of money on stupid things.Most of the people in the councils are not honest away and dont target real crime.

  7. Hope he gets away with it the council are bullies who bully becauase they can.They have been weighed and found wanting and are now prepared to spend tax payers money to expounge thier embarisment.Close the loop hole and get on with life.Just look at the way Surrey has been messed up with permited developments they aprove houses with rooms to small. To tightly packed. Also just look at whats been done to historic Guildford .The big brave council realy performed well there didnt they!!

  8. well done its about time someone got something on the planners. beautiful house beautifully finished off the council are bullies well done mate!!! There are so many loop holes with the council.

  9. This man is a pillock and so is anyone who admires him or thinks the house should remain. The house is ghastly in design and why should someone be allowed to override well established Green Belt policies that have been protecting our countryside since the 1950s? The Council are entirely right to pursue its demolition otyherwise everyone will be building houses anywhere and destroying our countryside – and anyway, the costs are to be reclaimed from Mr Fidler, it does not come from the taxpayer – get your facts right please!!

  10. “why should someone be allowed to override well established Green Belt policies that have been protecting our countryside since the 1950s?”

    Because it’s not “our” countryside…it’s his property. He’s the one who paid for the deed, not you or me or anyone else. And a person should be allowed to build a house on his or her own property, regardless of what a bunch of busybodies pretending to be social do-gooders have to say about it. That’s what living in a free country is all about.

    And did you ever consider that one of the main reasons that houses are so expensive in Great Britain is because of ridiculous rules like the Green Belt policies that prevent people from building new homes (thereby restricting supply even as demand increases)? The only way a “Green Belt” policy is economically sustainable is if you limit your population growth, like China tries, so that demand doesn’t increase (and even that is a pipe dream). Given a choice between having a bunch of empty fields to placate the “environmentalists” and having housing costs that won’t put people into poverty, it should be a no-brainer…assuming that you value people more than asthetics.

  11. It’s the mans own land to do with as he pleases. He Built it for just over £50,000. Every dog on the street knows that town planners are corrupt little curs and he out smarted them with their own idiot laws.

    To knock it down would be a shame. Anyone who thinks it should be only justifies themselves being stupid little sheep, jealous of this man’s individual and creative way of thinking.
    Sheep can’t think for themselves.

    They are the typical little ass kissers running around with their little arms flapping while sticking their snouts into everyones else’s business.

    Get over it.

  12. i think they should keep it up it is a beautiful house so what if he dodged the law on the planning it was on his land if u own land u should b able to build what u want on it anyone with comments about knocking it down are jealous haters

  13. RE: UCrawford’s comment above: “Because it’s not “our” countryside…it’s his property. He’s the one who paid for the deed, not you or me or anyone else. And a person should be allowed to build a house on his or her own property, regardless of what a bunch of busybodies pretending to be social do-gooders have to say about it. That’s what living in a free country is all about”

    Thank God you’re not responsible for planning in this country, otherwise we’d be in a sorry state of affairs. Of course everyone shouldn’t just be allowed to build what they like on their own land – what a completely stupid, ignorant attitude!! You obviously know nothing about the subject. Yes, let everyone build everywhere – isolated houses everywhere, more roads needed, more traffic, more pollution, no open green spaces anywhere – what an almighty mess – something, thankfully, that will never happen, unless idiots like UCrawford get their way…. 😉

  14. RE Tony Clifton’s ignorant comments above:
    “Every dog on the street knows that town planners are corrupt little curs and he out smarted them with their own idiot laws.”

    Two point to make in response to this drivel: (1) get your facts right about town planners – and don’t be so insulting about a profession you clearly know nothing about. (2) The whole point is that HE HAS NOT OUTSMARTED THE PLANNING LAWS – do you not understand this????? He had his appeal dismissed and has to demolish it!! He’s appealed to the High Court now, but hopefully that will also be thrown out too. The whole point is that he thought he could hide it for 4 years and it would then be lawful – but as the bales surrounding it were part of the whole operation, the 4 year period for immunity didn’t start until he’d removd the bales, so he hasn’t outsmarted any planning laws at all – he’s just got egg on his face by the way he deliberately tried to deceive everyone. And by the way, the house is an architectural mess – it wouldn’t win any design awards!

    This ignorant comment confirms that you clearly have no grasp of the basic planning, construction or economic issues affecting this country. Firstly, it is not down to Green Belts that housing is in demand – that is simply ridiculous. There is plenty of available land which is not in GB areas – GBs only cover 13% of the country!!!! Most new developemnt takes place on brownfield land, in towns and cities and in settlements in the countryside where developemnt is allowed. New homes are allowed in Green Belt areas anyway – ones that provide affordable housing to local communities, so please improve your understanding of the topic before posting any more drivel.

  16. To Mark Turner (aka Socially Ignorant Sheep).

    I know my facts buddy. The law does not state that the building has to be in clear view. Obviously you’re living in cartoon-land eating flowers and jumping on clouds all day.

    Regarding Planning Corruption. You have no idea how society really operates. I know from personal experience how the system works. I think it’s time for you to get yourself socially educated. Maybe if you read the newspapers, watch the news on T.V. you may evolve a bit more from the social amoeba you are presently.

    Everyone knows planners are corrupt. If the man in question had handed them a brown envelope filled with money prior to the building of this beautiful house, there would have been nothing said. That’s the way the system works. Town planners are as crooked as Mafia Don’s. How do you think the fats cats get to build developments and other constructions where ever they like ? Bribes Einstein Bribes !!!

    Also from my professional perspective the house is very designed. He done a great job indeed. A much better job that most builders and councils in the U.K. would do. Plus the project was put together with love and pride not slapped together like the rushed work you see in most housing estates.

    I do detect from your comments an air of jealousy at the talents of this man. This jealousy probably stems from the fact that you don’t have the talent, brains or basic skills to build your own house. I would say you’d find it hard to make a sandwich to feed your, would I be correct ? DIY wouldn’t be your forte, or is it the fact that the house is bigger than your own.

    If I were you I would seek some professional help because you are blinkered to corruption of planning and how money can bend laws in any direction. You might also ask one of the other sheep to pull your wooly head out of the sand.

    Baaah !!!


  17. Anyone that cannot see how wonderfull this whole project is must have a very nasty disposition. Mr. Fidler took this risk and built his marvellous house out of love for his beautiful wife, who could not admire him for that? How could anyone wish to destroy something so impressive, inspired by the love between a man and a woman. I have nothing but admiration for Mr Fidler, this country is lucky to have him, it characterises for me what being British is all about. I believe the comments about corruption in the planning offices of councils are true, I have had some experience of planning and I had reached the same conclusions. I wish Mr Fidler and his family good luck in all their endeavours. Please please let the house stay.

  18. To Tony Clifton…..
    Your unsubstantiated and slanderous remarks about planners being corrupt displays a level of ignorance and bigotry that serves to illustrate your total failure to grasp reality. If you had evidence of the rife corruption you indicate, there wouldn’t be any planners out of jail as you would have reported the corruption to the police. Oh,you’ll probably say the police are corrupt too, of course.
    Setting aside the ill-informed fallacious background to your comments, Fidler’s Castle is a design trainwreck clearly conceived by a cretin without a shred of knowledge of good or appropriate design. The owner thinks he’s above the laws of this country and of the need to conform to the mores of our society. He thinks his castle is there to serve the Queen for the defence of the realm – if the Queen had any balls she’d send him to the Tower and honour him with a slow and painful death, and then burn his ‘castle’ down.
    And to Mark Turner – well said.

  19. The guys house is perfect in every sense, it should stand and the council should admit defeat in this, i personally believe that green belts only exist so councils and governments can regulate who builds what where and when they say so and that they may charge for the privilege, they have no interest in the fact it is green belt whatsoever, if they did then that would make the Government more green that we would give them credit for, lets not be blinkered here, councils do not want Joe blogs building X amount of houses on a field and selling them cheaply which would prevent them from gathering much needed rents and other revenues from lost customers, if you buy the land then you should be able to build what they like, imagine if all these stupid laws were invented century’s ago? all they buildings that are now “Listed” would never have been built, green belt laws will not protect the land forever anyway, with the rate that the population is growing at every year between natural growth and the added burden of accepting more and more immigrants all land will be harvested before too long, would we really rather see a green field with a few trees, or, 2 dozen family’s freezing in poverty living on the streets?
    Long Live Fiddlers Castle! Get it up Ye!

  20. Green Belt has protected land since 1955 with virtually no change – so why stop now? Doh! Yeah, let’s reward anyone who flouts the planning legislation and destroys the countryside with new housing… yeah, great idea… not!

    And re Tony Cretin Clifton’s comments… – firstly, I’m not your buddy (although you clearly need some) – clearly you need to get out more… or maybe I should say you just need to get out… If your so-called professional opinion tis that this house is well designed…. I rest my case! Dear oh dear… it beggars belief that you consider this carbuncle well-designed… would you like me to hold your white stick while you cross the road?

    You clearly have no experience whatsoever of the planning system or for that matter, any knowledge of social democracy in this country. As for being blinkered – is there a mirror in your squalid little cave for you to peer at… you clearly have some social issues, both in the lack of skill in expressing yourself with respect and dignity, and also in your blinkered views of the planning system. Your post only serves to highlight the kind of person you are… and I use the word ‘person’ in the loosest sense of the word.

    By the way – it’s woolly not ‘wooly’. You should know that.

    And to Christine Mellor – thanks!

  21. Having just re-read your comments Tony, you obviously have an unnerving fascination with sheep… something to do with a previous life perhaps… or maybe just a weekend hobby of yours…

  22. gd lad for out swindling this robbing country always has beeen always will be and this man outwitted them hands down we are all stupid in this country the way we are treated by councils and government and to all them people above stated it should come down think again you idiots about the mp`s claiming for kit kats and bleedin duck ponds on our tax which i certainly work hard to contribute to this shitty country. mr fiddler congrats you make this scouser very happy well done

  23. I think it is remarkable that people think this is ok, his is a CRIMINAL as he has broken the law, his home was built by cowboys in the dark and in confined spaces so it is probably not the safest place in the world. If it fell and hurt someone you (who think it should stand) would then be shouting at the council for not protecting people by getting it removed.

    If we all start building what we like, where we like then we will end up with no coutryside left and with people in our back gardens, with no privacy or space.

    Rules are there for a reason (like a 30 mile speed limit when there may be people about to be run down) planning regulations and laws are there to protect each other and ensure that eyesores (like Fidler’s Castle) do not get built or infringe on other peoples rights.

    A property built like that for £50,000 can only spell trouble, who checked the foundations or the rest of the building work? One heavy rainfall and the Fidler Castle may be no more, still that would save him the cost of demolishing it himself!

  24. In answer to the people who asked, yes the house is still standing, the appeal process has now ended, and a final decision should be reached by the end of the year. Robert Fidler is not a criminal, he simply built a house for his family, on land he owned. Its not even about trying to dodge planning permission, a request was put in long before building started, and was ignored. The council have been opposed to anything Robert Fidler has tried to do with his land for years, its sad, but comes down to the council having a grudge. There was a loop hole in the law, that he used to his advantage to build a beautiful, safe house. It looks a damn sight better than they covered bales of hay that stood in its place for over 4 years, and no one complained then, so why should they now.

  25. Did the house remain standing?

    I do not think this should set a presedent, so law should be changed to avoid this loop hole or more green belts will be eaten into; howeverthat said on this unique occasion they should allow it to remain standing.

    In a 100 years it will be celebrated as the perfect folly!

  26. mark turner, you obviously have too much time on your hands as your comments are littered through out this page, although you seenm to have a firm grasp off the law regarding the erection of buildings you have no grasp on life in the real world for the average joe like myself, fair play mr fidler for trying to exploit building regulations and, being in the trade myself know first hand that alot of back handers go about to get planning permission, it is corrupt and as bent as a boomerang,. and not pretty? take your head out your arse mate and look at it . i take my hat off to you mr fidler

  27. I am glad to see that individualism and initiative are still alive and well in this ruined realm of ours ! Also in case no one noticed Mr Fidler is a loyal royalist ( rare in this day and age of politicaly correct do gooders !)
    Should there be any doubt at this point i am totaly in favour of Mr Fidler and all his supporters. I have nothing but contemt for those that are simple minded enough not to realise that corruption exists in planning depts. just as it does elsewhere. Also that those in positions of power (over simplified by the description “the establishment”) will when miffed or annoyed use that power !
    Without adventurers,explorers,entrepreneurs and the likes of Mr Fidler the world would be a very bland place. If attached by a horde of screeming fighting aliens i know who i would rather be stood with,certainly not the mamby pamby citezen with the “oh don’t shoot they might get annoyed ” attitude !
    The same complainers are those that want endless electricity but won’t have wind farms on pretty hills. My surgestion is that instead they should have Nuclear Reactors in their village centres !
    Glad to see some one trying to put the Great back in Britain. keep the flag flying Fidler.

  28. Fantastic construction. If you can be allowed to erect grain silo’s and straw stacks and park scrap wagons on the land, you should be allowed to keep it. Brilliant, Bloody brilliant!!

    And for all the people who have objected, if th shoe was on the other foot im convinced it would be a different story, Bitter and twisted sad folk!!

  29. Re: j2k1 – The shoe’s not likely to be on the other foot though is it, because I’m not planning to illegally knock up a mock castle in me garden.

    Objecting to what this chancer has done is nothing to do with being bitter and twisted, it’s about living as part of a society. Just because you can get away with something doesn’t make it right. If I robbed some stuff from your house but you didn’t notice would I deserve praise for my ingenuity? At getting one over the rich fool who doesn’t even know when the contents of his have gone missing? Of course not, because to take the standpoint that my lawbreaking was somehow heroic would be utterly ridiculous.

    The guy lives on a farm, it’s reasonable that a farm has a barn or silo, no-one would ever have a problem with that. Now there is a castle on there, who could object to a few more houses on the site? Let’s stick a petrol station on there too eh? Maybe a supermarket?

    If you want to know why we’ve got planning regs then I suggest you look at countries where they don’t exist or aren’t enforced – shanty towns all over the place and unsafe, unsightly constructions erected without any thought for the implications.

    The guy isn’t Robin Hood and the planning dept are not the Sheriff of Nottingham; they’re acting in the wider interest to stop cheeky swines like Mr Fidler taking the mick & getting what they want at the expense of others.

    Anyway, I very much doubt that even if he is ordered to knock it down he’ll actually do it. They’ll be squatting in there for years and taking it to European Courts and lord knows what else because while he just does what he wants the council have to go down lengthy official channels.

    Maybe they could take a leaf out of his book and just bulldoze the place at night (while they’re asleep inside?) because in the dark no-one would notice, hence it’s fine.

  30. okay i agree with the greenbelt and planning laws however its looks a lot better than the pile of straw bales and crap around it. surely if the people could live with that in their view they can live with a great piece of art.

  31. He has lost the case at High Court and will have to demolish it, unless he can mount a successful appeal of course, which would probably be more good money after bad. So heroic or just a selfish cheeky swine, maybe he’s not so clever after all. The best of it is, with all the legal fees it will have cost him over the years he could’ve probably bought a real castle by now.

    Full story here for those who are interested:

  32. Wow, what fantastic job he has accomplished and now you socialists want him to tear it down? He should be given a medal for ingenuity! His neighbors should stand behind this guy and unite against oppressive government bureaucrats. The city dwellers are probably jealous because they will never have this opportunity. Sounds like TOO much government.

  33. i just hope the beraters of this chap get their homes reposessed or demolished under a compulsory purchase order. sure knock the mans home down, you could use the land for a runway extension or a lovely bypass. planners have permitted development over sssi.s, in green belt and where it should never have been permitted because they are corruptible. the law on this area is there for the wealthy and always has been. I suggest you critics do some studying of the subject before you shoot your mouths off.

  34. I’ve just seen the news that he has been ordered to takt the castle down after losing in court, but i’m wondering if he still has a chance? I remember the church of scientology was refused permission to build an extension to st hill manor in east grinstead but they uncovered an ancient law which say’s that planning permission cannot be refused to build a castle, so they built a castle instead!
    I’m wondering if that law still holds and if his solicitors are aware of that?

  35. What a beautiful home and what a fantastic job he did! I hope he can keep it. If not, why don’t the council let him rebuild the disguise so that it looks the same way it did before he revealed it, after all the mountain of hay and tarp never bothered anyone, right?

    He would be welcome to build a house on my plot in the Blue Ridge Mountains, anytime!

  36. Daz the ex-pat says:

    “Don’t have any dreams, aspirations or exhibit ingenuity and you will do fine with socialism.”

  37. Well at last the High Court has brought to a halt Fraudulent Fidler’s illegal activity. Let’s look forward to the ceremonial burning of this architectural aberration following this successful bringing to book of an arrogant moneybags who thinks the law of the land does not apply to him. Bring it on. Well done Reigate&Banstead planners,and well done the High Court.

  38. Well, to all the cretins above who have sung the praises of this imbecile who thought he could outsmart the planning laws, his High Court appeal has been lost (as posted above). So ‘Mr Naive CJ’ above and ‘tony twat clifton’ – thank goodness you have no say in the running of this country. Get the thing demolished! Why the hell should some big headed twat (and he is a very arrogant man) be allowed to deceive everyone and ride roughshod over the planning laws? They are there for a reason – to protect the Green Belt from shite like this. And as for ‘CJ’ – yeah right, of course the system is corrupt – get real mate, you need to stop tarnishing the whole system with your own blinkered view. I’ve worked in the business for years and it is certainly not corrupt! Come on, name me one specific example…

  39. As for Charles Crosby’s ‘lawful rebellion’ malarky… (isn’t that a contradiction in itself?) yeah right, good luck but it won’t get anyone anywhere!

  40. Would Mark of the family Turner care to expound on his obviously ignorant remark?

    “Contempt, prior to complete investigation, enslaves men to ignorance.” – Dr John Whitman Ray

  41. What would the legal position be if Mr Fidler’s castle became a listed building? It meets many of the criteria for Grade 2. It is architecturally unique and of social and historical interest. Can the owner apply for listing?

  42. TOURISM is the answer to Robert Fidler’s situation. It’s currently one of the hottest items on the net. Well let’s milk it for all its worth. By having guided tours through the premise, explaining why and how it was done, and giving the local towns folk an opportunity to create side business, like a memorabilia shop with a portion of the proceeds to the city coffers or a local pub naming an ail after the castle or naming a part of the castle after the lead councilmember and/or a famous person. By having “fresh” money going into the city coffers, why should the city tear it down. also, have Mr. Fidler claim that the construction has yet to be finished, so why should they tear down something, when it’s not even finished yet?

  43. Well done to find a clause if you can find it. A house of individual character,careful you could upset other people`s aspirations. How many barons,lords squires of past probably went marauding the globe,returning with untold wealth, displacing local whole settlements etc etc and built homes to reflect their own hard work?
    Today we have a bureaucracy with councils with lawyers, inspectors,more inspectors and inspectors inspecting inspectors… One fine house and THEY come down like a ton of bricks on ya How come whole housing estates and retail parks get built along with motorways on green belt land?
    While Im at how about Britains city centres having their guts ripped out of them (Im from Birmingham!)and questionably when some piers of this land in their stately dwellings,in financial straits last century lost their homes to destructive fires which we now see as lost heritage?

  44. you are a very talented man to build such a beautiful building best of luck on getting to keep it.It does not look out of place and blends in with its saroundings very well.

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