Cloaked by choking creepers, its glazing dimmed by a cataract of grime, and elegant rooms littered with collapsed ceilings, a once-grand manor house stands forlornly awaiting salvation.

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Auction consultant Jonathan Cumby looking around the interior of the building.

Cloaked by choking creepers, its glazing dimmed by a cataract of grime, and elegant rooms littered with collapsed ceilings, a once-grand manor house stands forlornly awaiting salvation.

In its pomp Bessingham Manor near Aldborough was home to a long-standing Norfolk family, linked to farming and brewing - but with its inevitable aristocratic eccentric.

Step up Denham Spurrell - a man who at the age of 91 learned to fly a plane so he could visit a friend in Bournemouth - and whose bear, brought home from travels to India, escaped and attacked the housekeeper.

Today the danger lurks inside the house itself, with its crumbling ceilings and floors meaning visitors wear hard hats rather than Victorian toppers.

But when it comes up for auction in a few days time it could make up to £900,000 - but the buyer will have to spend another £1m to bring it back to its former glory.

The three-storey house with a vaulted cellar, eight main bedrooms, another four for servants in the roof, and a range of outbuildings including stables, was built in 1870 for Daniel Spurrell, on the site of two previous manor houses.

The Spurrells have links going back 500 years to Bessingham and neighbouring Thurgarton, where some of the family still live.

As well as being farmers, they were related by marriage to brewing families such as the Watneys, but during the Victorian times also included professions that ranged from scientists and clergy to an archaeologists and Bible translator.

Daniel Spurrell owned the manor house until his death, a few months short of his 90th birthday, in 1906, when it passed to son Denham, with his flying and bear-keeping exploits, who died in aged 93 in 1952.

In recent years it was owned by former pilot trainer Robert Gamble, but it got beyond him, particularly after some faulty roof repairs let the rain in, said John Parsons of agents William H Brown.

Outside the manor looks run down. Inside the scale of the task is evident. Above the kitchen, with its abandoned ovens, scales and pots hanging on the walls, two floors are missing - revealing a radiator hanging half way up the walls and bottles of pop in a bedroom hearth.

In a ground reception room there is the incongruous mix of a yellow 1960s suite and a Victorian harmonium. Next to the stables is a “thunderbox” toilet, an abandoned workbench and a bell frozen to mid swing by rust.

The former 52 acres of grounds is now down to five, but includes, near the gateway a flint tower folly.

“At a rough estimate it needs around £1 million spent on it but then it could be worth several millions,” added Mr Parsons.

But because of its location in sought-after rural North Norfolk he felt it could convert into a hotel, retirement home, hospital or even an up-market spa - or restored into a magnificent family home by “someone happy to take on a challenge” such as a London buyer looking for a Norfolk retreat.

More than a dozen people are viewing the property in the coming days ahead of the auction on September 10.

Full details of the sale, at Barnham Broom Hotel, Golf and Country Club on Thursday, September 10 from 12.30pm contact 01603 598975 or visit www.williamhbrownauctions-norwich.co.uk

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