A DERELICT former Chard bank with a huge vault which is believed to have stored the Crown Jewels during WW2 has been sold for £211,000.

The former Natwest bank, in Fore Street, was thought to have been used by the Bank of England to protect Royal gems from German bombers during the Blitz.

The Grade-II listed bank is also said to have stored vital documents and banknotes.

The Georgian three-story building had a freehold guide of £150,000 to £200,000.

It sold for £211,000 on Thursday, February 7 during an auction at the St Mellion International Resort, St Mellion, Cornwall.

The vault measures a massive 383.63 sq m (4,000 sq ft).

Commenting on the sale, auctioneer Graham Barton said that the new owner would turn the former branch into shops and flats however he stressed that the buyer didn't have "a clue" about what he was going to do with the vault.

Mr Barton continued: "At first glance this is simply a prime town centre building with the potential for a number of flats and a shop or two with land to the rear having scope for a new build residential scheme, plus parking and garaging.

"The near unique twist in the tale comes at the north of the site under a huge protective bund (a constructed retaining wall around storage) where there is a vast underground vault.

"Local legend has it that the Bank of England stored vital documents, banknotes and even the Crown Jewels here during the Second World War.'

"How much truth lies in the tale is unknown but on the basis that the enemy aircraft knew where Threadneedle Street and the Tower of London were but had probably never heard of 7 Fore Street, Chard, it might just be true.

"It would certainly help explain the amazing 'above and below' ground feat of building and engineering.

"It's a well-known rumour in town."

Graham added: "Whatever its history, today the property offers a diverse array of opportunities for sub-division, newbuild and conversion, all subject to the necessary consents."