Country houses for sale

Britain’s most exotic – and spookiest – three-bed semi opens to the public

An ex-council house in Essex has been turned into the bizarre, spooky and delightful 'Talliston House' over the course of 25 years. Now it's opening its doors to the public.

A little over a quarter of a century ago, a man named  John Trevillian bought an old council house in the Essex village of Great Dunmow.

Here’s what it looked like back then:

Nothing unsual in that, of course: this three-bed semi-detached house a few miles away from Stansted Airport is as ordinary as they come.

Or rather, it was as ordinary as they come. Now it’s anything but.

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Talliston House: The stairs

For 25 years, John and a team of artists, volunteers and local tradesmen worked to completely transform the house into… well, words defy us, but we trust that the pictures on this page will tell the story.

There are 13 separate designs in the house – “locations”, as John calls them – designed to recreate eras from 4000 BC to 2228AD. As well as the decoration and furnishings, more than 1,800 antiques are dotted around the place, whose original floorplan remains untouched from the moment that the project was started.

Talliston House: The conservatory

Among our favourite bits are the 1920s New York-style office, the Japanese conservatory and a flight of stairs that look as if they come straight out of a fairytale castle.

As for the bedroom inspired by gothic horrors? We’d rather not sleep there, thanks very much all the same…

Talliston House: One of the bedrooms

The house was finished in October 2015, and for a while was put up for sale. Now, though, there is a different plan: John is opening the house up to the public via the ‘Invitation to View’ scheme.

Talliston was opened for a few days last year on a trial basis under the scheme, but this year it’ll be open on the last Sunday of every month to anyone who pre-books.

Talliston House - bathroom

A visit will cost £15, and includes a 2 1/2 hour guided tour as well as tea and cake – while all of the proceeds go towards the upkeep of this utterly unique place.

Talliston is not a business as such,” explains John, “so all proceeds go to the maintenance of the property. Each room has its own smells, sounds, candles… there are over 50 styles of lightbulb! All costly things to upkeep.”

Talliston House: The shed

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