SEALED bids are invited for university house which was once home to botanist and broadcaster David Bellamy.
The 19th Century Observatory House, is in the grounds of the university’s original astronomical and meteorological observatory, in Durham, which was founded in 1839.
The university owns the Grade II listed observatory – still used by the Department of Geography to collect meteorological data – which is separate from Observatory House.
The building was built in 1897 for Professor Ralph Allen Sampson with express instructions that the build cost was “not to exceed £1,500” and eventually came in £90 under budget.
While at Durham, Professor Sampson’s research included studying the motions of Jupiter’s four Galilean satellites, work for which he later won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1928.
The property, which sits in a site between Windmill Hill and Observatory Hill, was later home to David Bellamy when he was a lecturer in the botany department of the university.
In his book Jolly Green Giant he described it as “a great place in which to raise our now multicultural family”.
Most recently, the property has been used as student accommodation.
Matthew Wright, estate surveyor for the university, said: “It is in a lovely location, our residents loved its rural setting and proximity to both the city centre as well as the academic buildings on Mountjoy.
“Unfortunately it can’t easily be reconfigured to provide the residential facilities that students expect at Durham in the 21st Century, so the difficult decision was taken to dispose of the property.”
James Platts, a partner in Knight Frank, which is handling the sale, said: “It is open to a range of uses subject to planning.
“It is accessed by way of a private drive and it is on a large site in one of the best areas of Durham City.
“As such its appearance on the market is a rare event and as a result it will attract a great deal of attention.”