They say you can’t put a price on a view, but there’s no doubt that the guide price of £7.5m to £10m quoted by Savills (01392 455740) for one of Devon’s most spectacular coastal properties, Redlap near Dartmouth, is largely based on its magnificent setting in a private, frost-free valley that runs down to the sea, with views stretching from Start Point and Slapton Sands to the west, and the landmark Mewstone to the east. And despite its aura of total tranquillity, tales abound of nefarious goings-on at the house, which has evolved over many centuries.

The existence of a priest’s hole indicates the existence of an important house here in the 17th century, although the present main house is mainly of Georgian design and layout, with sunny, south-facing principal rooms facing south over the gardens and down to the sea. In the 18th century, Redlap was owned by a governor of Dartmouth, who was actively engaged in the smuggling trade, constructing false walls in the hall to conceal the smuggled contraband.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save; Get the Ipad edition

Rumours of a tunnel from the house to Redlap Cove have existed for centuries. In the 1930s, Redlap was owned by the impresario and actor Cyril Maude, one of whose favourite guests was the Poet Laureate, John Masefield, who may have been inspired to write Jim Davis, the story of a boy smuggler, while staying there. Latterly, peace and harmony have prevailed at Redlap, which has been greatly improved in recent years and now offers comfortable and well-appointed accommodation for sporting family life as well as formal entertaining. The grounds of 30 acres surrounding the house include the cliffs down to the high-water mark and Redlap Cove, a delightful sandy beach otherwise accessible only by water.

The present owner, who has enjoyed everything that Redlap has to offer for the past five years, has left the 8,500sq ft, seven-bedroom main house, with its tropical gardens running down the water’s edge, in more or less its original format, but has created a new 7,000sq ft guest-house and pool complex with unbroken sea views a short distance away, and established beautifully landscaped gardens with clipped hedges and stone walls protecting a series of paths leading to the clifftop Jacuzzi and fire pit.

* Country houses for sale in Devon

  • Tim Courtney

    Please email brochure