A HISTORIC former church fit for a duke has sold at auction for half a million pounds.

The Old Church, on the edge of Amberley in the heart of the South Downs National Park, has stunning views of the surrounding countryside and was originally built for the Duke of Norfolk in the 1880s.

Henry Fitzalan-Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk, was also the Earl of both Arundel and Surrey between 1856 and 1860.

The freehold property in The Street in Houghton has more recently been used as an antiques shop.

It was among 83 lots in an online auction held on Wednesday and was offered with a guide price between £480,000 and £520,000.

Sam Kinloch, director and senior auction appraiser who covers Sussex for auctioneers Clive Emson, said the historic building had attracted “keen interest”.

He said: “We understand this unique detached property was built for the Duke of Norfolk in the 1880s and has recently been used as an antiques retail space.

“Set in just under a third of an acre of newly landscaped gardens, the Old Church has recently undergone an extensive schedule of modernisation, including a new roof and electrical upgrades.

“The property now has planning consent for a sympathetic residential conversion or extension, providing flexible accommodation over two floors, although we are not privy to any plans the new owner, who successfully bid £500,000, may or may not have.”

Clive Emson has been holding virtual auctions since the lockdown was introduced.

Managing director James Emson said: “Our June auction was once again held solely online because of restrictions in place, and was packed with interesting lots for discerning buyers, with a long-term view beyond current economic events.

“For example, yields on rental income continue to be attractive because the UK base rate is at a historic low of 0.1 per cent. Some banks are paying as little as 0.01 per cent on cash savings.

“Given these financial dynamics we saw buy-to-let investors and owner-occupiers acquire 75 per cent of the 65 lots in our May sale, with post-auction offers still coming in.”

Clive Emson’s next online auction is on Wednesday, July 29.