A millionaire property developer has been ordered to pay total damages of £300,000 for illegally destroying the interiors of a Grade II listed house.

The 16th century house in Monmouthshire was the inspiration to the popular hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful”. Its composer, Cecil Alexander, was believed to have written the lyrics there.

Kim Davies has admitted to making 37 unlawful changes to the property, saying that he had verbal agreement from planning officers. Irreparably damaging the house’s regency features, he replaced parquet flooring with modern tiles, removed ancient timber and stone windows to put in plastic ones, installed a mosaic-clad jacuzzi, ripped out an Elizabethan staircase, and fundamentally reworked the entrance hall.

He also inserted headstones from children’s graves, taken from a nearby village graveyard, into the walls the house as decorative stone plaques.

Prosector Nicholas Haggan QC said: “Layers of history were ripped out and discarded. The impact of the works has been immensely damaging.”

The court heard how the listed building specialist Michael Davies described the alterations as being the worst example he had seen during his 25-year career.

National Park planning officers called at the property after seeing it advertised in the Sunday Times.

Davies has already spent in excess of £440,000 on his own court costs, but if he does not pay damages within the month he will be sent to jail.

Judge Daniel Williams told the defendant that “it would not take a specialist to look at what you have done to that house and to conclude that it was criminal,” adding that the new interiors were comparable to “the hidden palace of an Iron Curtain dictator.”