Penny Churchill takes a look at a magnificent house near Truro.
After a decade of battling headwinds in the wake of the financial crash and the tortuous Brexit negotiations, Cornwall’s country-house agents are once again riding the crest of a wave. ‘The market in Cornwall has recovered well in the past 18 months and there is good demand for prime country and waterfront property,’ says Falmouth-based estate agent Jonathan Cunliffe. ‘Ironically, the county’s appeal has only been enhanced by the current and recent lockdowns, as people adjust to more time at home and the restrictions on overseas travel.’
His firm got 2021 off to a flying start with the recent launch in Country Life of gorgeous, Grade II-listed Trevella at at a guide price of £2.5 million.
The house is in St Erme, four miles from the cathedral city of Truro, an elegant Georgian country house set in 14 acres of gardens and grounds in the heart of the Cornish countryside, roughly halfway between the dramatic cliffs and sandy surf beaches of the north coast and the sheltered deep-water estuaries and wooded creeks of the south.
The present owners — who’ve been here a decade and a half — have during their tenure made many improvements to the property, including the addition of a large kitchen extension into the rear courtyard garden.
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Behind the classic Georgian façade, the porch leads through to an entrance hall with a parquet floor and an open fireplace.
The central reception hall — the heart of the house — leads to the main family living and reception rooms. These include a large sitting room, a library and an elegantly proportioned dining room and, behind that, the impressive kitchen/breakfast room. There are six first-floor bed-rooms, three in the main house and three in the rear wing, with further living space and attics on the second floor.
The garden cottage was renovated in 2017 to provide further two-bedroom guest or holiday accommodation. Outbuildings include a traditional stone barn with loft space used for children’s parties, stabling, a tack room and a hay barn.
Trevella’s idyllic 14 acres of gardens, bluebell woods, herbaceous borders and paddocks — part of a wildlife sanctuary that has existed here for more than 50 years — are particularly spectacular in April and May, when the magnificent magnolias and rhododendrons can be seen in all their glory.
Despite its rural location, Trevella is close to all the Truro schools, including the highly rated Polwhele House prep school, which is three miles away. For buyers who need regular access to London, Truro offers a main-line railway station with an excellent overnight sleeper service to London-Paddington, as well as easy access to both the A30 and Newquay airport.
Trevella sits in an ancient landscape scattered with Bronze Age mounds; the surrounding parish is named after St Hermes, who was born in Greece and died a martyr in Rome in 120ad. The property is shown in Domesday as a smallholding attached to Killigrew, the seat of the Arwenack family who founded Falmouth in 1600.
In the 18th century, Trevella was owned for many years by John Haweis, a Truro doctor who died in 1760, leaving the house to his sister, from whom it passed to David Haweis of Killiow. However, the will was so complicated that soaring legal costs led to it being sold in 1782 to John James, who built the Georgian extension to the original medieval house in 1790.
In 1815, the house was damaged by fire and the interiors destroyed. Although uninsured, it was rebuilt at a cost of £1,500 (£134,563 in today’s money) by its then owner, George Simmons, who also acquired the neighbouring Polglaze to improve the approach to Trevella; the curious Tower Lodge that was the gatehouse dates from this period.
In 1935, Trevella was bought by William Bickford-Smith Esq. In 1954, the house and estate were purchased in turn by Lord Falmouth of Tregothnan as a wedding present for his daughter, who lived there until 2006, when the house was sold to its present owners.
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