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WITHNAIL AND I CROW CRAGG SOLD

Tuesday February 17th, 2009
Image‘CROW CRAGG.’ GOES FOR THREE TIMES THE ASKING PRICE

Fans of the cult classic Withnail and I are said to be delighted that the building immortalised as ‘Crow Cragg’ in the movie’s notorious Uncle Montague episode has been bought by a bona fide fan. Mind you, exactly how delighted pub landlord Sebastian Hindley was about the final auction price is open to debate.

Sleddale Hall was originally priced at £90,000 but was raised to £145,000 by Savills auction house in London due to the high level of interest. The auction room was packed with fans of the movie but there were only seven actual bidders. The auction itself was a lively affair which ended with Mr Hindley bidding a staggering £265,000 for the uninhabitable Cumbrian farmhouse located in the middle of nowhere.

But the landlord of the Mardale Inn in Penrith is a Withnail and I fanatic and positively pleased as punch to have bought the property and prevent it becoming an 'exclusive retreat for the rich and famous'. The 40-year-old intends to restore the 19th century building and turn it into a place for the legions of adoring fans to visit and pay homage to their favourite movie.

'It would have been sad if Sleddale was bought by someone rich who didn't understand what it means,' said Mr Hindley. 'All the folk who go up there and leave their little bit of graffiti, that's part of the heritage of the place. It's as important as Wordsworth's home to this area… I'd love to turn it back to how it looks in the film. I first went there 15 years ago. It's a classic British comedy, and I see Withnellys, as I call them, around here all the time… We once had the girls from (pop band] Atomic Kitten visiting when it was snowing heavily… Their Range Rover got stuck, and when they got out they were all wearing high heels.'

Now Sebastian Hindley has a real job on his hand. There is no road to Sleddale Hall, no power supply or even drainage system. It has been vacant for decades and parts of the building date back to 1722. To restore the property, build a road and a car park, the landlord must first obtain planning permission from Eden District Council and the Lake District National Park before he can even begin what is sure to be a long and arduous process. But judging by the popularity of the ramshackle hall I’m sure he will have no shortage of volunteers to help out especially since he has vowed to keep the graffiti left over the years by thousands Withnail and I pilgrims.

Mr Hindley has asked fans to e-mail other suggestions to admin@mardaleinn.co.uk.
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