Pattens' cottage put up for sale

THE estate agent describes it as ''far from the madding crowd'' but makes no mention that Cromwell's Rest, a cottage near the city of Bath, is Governor Chris Patten's other home in England.

The Pattens have put their former constituency home in the village of Conkwell on the market for GBP135,000 (HK$1.55 million) - a sum which would not buy much more than a Mid-Levels dog kennel. Even in Britain it is not exactly expensive.

The prospective buyer will find a four-bedroom cottage, part of it a former chapel, down quiet country lanes, bearing little resemblance to Government House.

The Pattens bought the property in 1978 before Mr Patten became the Tory MP for Bath in 1979, and they have now decided to sell.

''Cromwell's Rest would be ideal as a second home,'' according to local estate agents Chrisp Cowley. That was exactly what the Pattens used it for, their principal London home being an apartment in Victoria.

''Built of stone, the main chapel has earlier origins than the integral 1876 stone-built Victorian chapel which it incorporates as the main reception room. Much of the original character remains.'' ''Far from the madding crowd, yet accessible to all the amenities of Bath and the surrounding unspoilt countryside.'' It sounds just the sort of place to write one's memoirs after a high-profile job overseas. Any takers?