Britain’s oldest house isn’t a clay hut or a stone cabin, it’s the prehistoric cavern at Kents on the English Riviera. Under the ownership of the Powe family for 120 years, the two-acre site has become a popular attraction open seven days a week, rain or shine, to the area’s 4 million annual tourists. And now, for $3.1 million, the cave system may also be a lucky buyer’s next home business.

Kents Cavern is a legally designated monument located within the large UNESCO Global Geopark. Britain’s first Stone Age inhabitants arrived in this winding subterranean complex 500,000 years ago. The Neanderthals made it their home 400,000 years later. A jaw fragment unearthed here still marks the oldest human remains found in northwest Europe – and in 1924 Kents Cavern also inspired Agatha Christie’s novel ‘The Man in the Brown Suit’. Contemporary programming held under the stalactites today includes film screenings, yoga, and even weddings.

Gilly Woodland and Alan Duckworth married in what is believed to be their first wedding at Kents Cavern on October 4, 2008. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

The current owner is the great-grandson of Francis Powe, according to The Guardian, who bought the complex from Lord Haldon and used his land to sell kindling and stone, only giving underground tours on the side. Tourism became the main focus of the country when William Pengelly began digging up prehistoric body parts there in the late 1800s.

After 23 years at the helm, the current owner wishes to retire. None of his relatives are ready to take the helm, so the Powe family abandons the complete site for sale with Bettesworthincluding not just the caves, but an acre of wooded trails populated with lifelike replicas of Ice Age animals and a three-bedroom cabin.

A historical exhibit at Kents Cavern. Courtesy of Bettesworth

In total, the Powes invested $1.2 million in the site building a metered parking lot for 50 cars, a gift shop, offices, galleries and a restaurant for 100 people. They have licenses to sell food and alcohol, and existing relationships with vendors in town that they are willing to share.

“We went to market on May 11,” Matthew Bettesworth told Artnet News, noting that it’s hard to estimate how long this site might be up for grabs. “We have already generated significant interest, so we hope to complete a sale in a reasonably short time.”

Bettesworth says the Powe family are hoping for a motivated buyer “to continue the legacy of the caves, but also to grow the business”.

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