SSSI Woodland Sold at Auction
Date of Article
Jul 29 2009

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Environmental consultant Alan Sheppard has literally put his money where his mouth is and bought a piece of a nature reserve at Carter Jonas' Property Auction on Monday 27 July.

The Coombe, at East Harptree, in Somerset, contains the remnants of once important Richmont Castle and a wealth of plants and wildlife in its 22 acres.

Harptree Coombe

One of a number of Mendip gorges, The Coombe is an ancient woodland with the attendant interesting species that go with such a gem and is now listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance thanks to its richness in shrub and tree species.

Mr Sheppard, who lives near Bath and is a member of the main board of SLR Consulting, says he views buying The Coombe as a bit like buying a work of art.

“When I saw The Coombe advertised I looked at it a couple of times as I’m originally from the Chew Valley so know the area well. I thought it needed to be conserved and managed and I will be encouraging safe local use. The first thing I will need to do is concentrate on improving the footpaths.

“In return, I will get personal enrichment from owning it and this is something I have always wanted to do.”

Tori Osborne, of the Wells office of Carter Jonas, who organised the auction at which Mr Sheppard bought the property for £60,000, said documentation showed this is only the third time The Coombe has changed hands since 1805, with the last owners in possession since 1920.

“Many people who have grown up locally will have walked The Coombe and be familiar with its treasures,” added Tori. “The importance of the area way back in history can be inferred from the presence of the castle but sadly all that remains are the circular stone foundations of one building, which some suppose to be the keep. There are also many interesting plant species in The Coombe.

“I had hoped that the property would go to someone with local connections who would value it for what it is. This is certainly the case now that Mr Sheppard is the new owner and it’s great news that he wants to encourage local access to The Coombe.”

Guide price for The Coombe was £50,000 to £60,000. The auction was held at Swan Hotel, Sadler Street, Wells on 27 July.

For more information about future sales, contact Carter Jonas in Wells on T: 01749 677667 or E: