What if someone you knew stacked huge hay bale walls and built a castle inside, unbeknownst to everyone but you? Would you tell? Would you use the word “unbeknownst” when telling about it?
How about this… could you keep it a secret for more than four years?
Well, unless Robert Fidler, 59, of England had absolutely no friends, or friends who never visited his home, somebody managed it. Now that the wall of bales is gone, authorities want to tear down Fidler’s castle.
This story (more on it in a minute) reminded me of a man I know who has a piece of land with forest around the perimeter. You’d never know by walking the property line that within that forest is a meadow. In that bare patch, he has a small place with running (well) water, a bathroom, a bedroom, a full kitchen, electricity, and climate control. He can watch wild turkey and deer wander into the field each morning and sometimes at dusk, unless he just wants to watch DishNetwork.
Admittedly, his place is function over form, not something that onlookers would slow down to see. There’s a much more important distinction, however, when comparing him to Robert Fidler.
Fidler’s home was deemed illegal because it’s in an area that prohibits construction. Apparently, the very thing — the
hale bay hay bale fort — that allowed Fidler to build and move his family into his castle, is the thing that may be his legal undoing. Although the law states that a structure built without approval can stay if it’s been in place at least four years, the hidden state of the home has drawn the ire of the local legalrati (made up word that it turns out has been used elsewhere). No fair if it’s not in plain view, they say. Legally, I’m sure that will be difficult to dispute.
Update: On 2/3/2010, Fidler was ordered to demolish his castle.