A Grade II* listed building where a former prime minister was born has been sold for a fraction of its value.
Historically-important Windlestone Hall near Rushyford was sold by Durham County Council for £241,000, although it is believed to be worth just under £2m.
The birthplace of Sir Anthony Eden is set in 25-acre grounds and was once used as a prisoner of war camp for female German prisoners during World War Two.
County councillor John Shuttleworth said: "Given a lot of councils need money it shouldn’t have been sold for this amount. The sale has been handled badly and the property should have gone in excess of £1.5m.
"Three bedroom detached houses in the area cost that much," he said.
The new owners reportedly plan to restore the country home back to its original splendour.
It features a clocktower, billiard room, library, stables and servants’ quarters.
The 19th-century property had been on the market since 2006 and an offer was accepted by a developer subject to planning consent. But the proposal was rejected in 2010 after years of negotiations.
English Heritage, who had been working with the council on the sale, denied it was responsible for delays in the hall being sold.
The deteriorating state of the building over the years, coupled with poor market conditions are thought to have triggered a slide in its value. The council had provided 24-hour security to protect it from vandals and metal thieves.
Prior to 2006, the estate was occupied by Windlestone Hall School, a local authority school.