A HISTORIC house in Salisbury is up for sale for the first time in 600 years.

For a minimum of £5 million the grade-I listed Malmesbury House in Cathedral Close could be yours.

It is where King Charles II came to escape from the plague in London in 1665 and where the composer Handel often visited and performed for friends.

The nine-bedroom house with annexe and 17 th Century orangery, has changed hands before and was owned by the Cathedral for many years, but this is the first time it has been on the open market.

The Harris family took over the house in 1660 and it is named after the third James Harris, who became the Earl of Malmesbury after a diplomatic career. The earliest parts date back to the early 1400s, but its front extension and facade may have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren or one of his local associates.

The current owners, George and Jayne Apter, acquired the property in 2006 from the widow of former Conservative MP John Cordle. Mr Apter, who ran a business hiring out film and TV props, said it had to be shut for two years while they restored it. He said the house is homely and has many advantages.

He said: “It’s everybody’s idea of what a stately home should look like, but without all the overheads.” Charles Stone, of Savills, who are handling the sale jointly with Knight Frank, said: “I have sold a number of houses in the close but this has exceptional architectural interiors. The quality is amazing. This, coupled with its historical connections and the fact it has not been on the market for 600 years, make it so special. It has been beautifully restored by the owners. The plasterwork is of such high quality. It is the sort of property that does not come up that often. The Cathedral Close is also very secure.”