Property of the week: Stunning Grade II listed home inspired love at first sight
Becky Sheaves visits a charming thatch on the gentle southern edge of the Dartmoor National Park.
When owners Yvonne and Nigel Ellis walked through the front door of Willmead House 17 years ago, they announced there and then that they wanted to buy it.
"We just fell in love with Willmead in an instant," remembers Yvonne. "It is so beautiful and with such a wonderful atmosphere."
And today this charming thatched property on the gentle southern edge of the Dartmoor National Park is even more attractive, thanks to the extensive work the couple have carried out over the years.
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Strutt & Parker, the selling agents are holding an Open House day today (10 to 4pm), and Willmead is taking part, to give as many househunters as possible the chance to look around this very special property. Willmead will be open between 10am and 4pm today. For details, call 01392 215631 or visit www.struttandparker.com.
It is clear to see the property has been much loved by the current owners and is now in excellent condition. "When we came here, the two stone barns were very dilapidated and one had no roof at all," remembers Yvonne. "So we had them restored, with help and advice from the National Park."
Willmead is a stunning Grade II house, dating back to the early 15th century, or possibly even earlier. The farmhouse still retains the basic structure of a Devon longhouse.
The house is within walking distance of the pretty village of Lustleigh and only three miles from the A38, so it is not isolated. however, it is secluded with a great deal of privacy and no immediate neighbours.
The property is approached over a long private drive. The beautiful entrance porch has a cobbled floor and the original heavy timber front door is still in place, worn smooth in places by centuries of use.
Inside, there are many stunning original features, too. The sitting room has a superb inglenook fireplace housing a wood-burning stove, with a bread oven and exposed stonework. The dining hall is a magnificent room extending right up to the eaves, overlooked by a minstrel's gallery and with impressive original timber beams. But there are also contemporary touches here to make life comfortable – the kitchen/breakfast room has a four-oven oil-fired Aga and a Miele electric oven.
Yvonne and Nigel used to live in Surrey, and Nigel commuted into London for his work in finance. "But when Nigel retired, we wanted to get right away from London and the bustle of the Home Counties," Yvonne explains. "We looked for quite some time but when we found this house it was love at first sight."
The property sits a mile and a half from the village of Lustleigh and has a footpath directly from the garden through fields to the village. Here, there is a well-known gastro pub, less than ten minutes away on foot.
The market town of Bovey Tracey is within easy reach for everyday shopping, as it is only three miles away.
"We love it here because we have our privacy, but we are not in a remote setting," Yvonne explains. "We are in the Dartmoor National Park but here we have gentle countryside of fields and woods and are not actually on the moor itself."
The property comes with 31 acres. The gardens are superb and include a wild woodland area on the hillside, which is full of bluebells in springtime.
The fields are currently let out to local farmers for grazing sheep but could easily be taken back in house if the new owners wanted to have their own livestock or horses here.
An interesting former inhabitant of Willmead was the Rev William Davy in the early 1800s, part of the Davy family of scientists who invented the Davy mining lamp and diving bell. He built his own printing press, which he used extensively and created a garden at the property, which Nigel and Yvonne have restored.
The two stone barns at the property now provide additional accommodation and storage, not to mention an impressive billiard room. They could be used for holiday accommodation, subject to planning approval.
So why leave such an idyllic place? Regretfully, Yvonne and Nigel feel it is time to downsize now that they are both in their seventies.
"We are moving to a newly-built flat by the sea," Yvonne explains. "It is the practical thing to do at our age – but it will be a terrific wrench to leave even so."
Their sensible decision means that a truly wonderful home is on the market for the first time in many years. There can be no doubt that the lucky new owners will have many happy times here in the future.
Willmead, Lustleigh, Devon
Property: A Grade II listed Devon longhouse, with two converted barns and 31 acres, near Bovey Tracey and in the Dartmoor National Park
Viewings: Strutt & Parker, the selling agents are holding an Open House day today, and Willmead is taking part, (from 10am to 4pm) to give as many househunters as possible the chance to look around this very special property.
Location: Down a private lane a mile from the pretty village of Lustleigh. The market town of Bovey Tracey and the main A38 are less than three miles away.
Accommodation: Four bedrooms in the main house, plus a guest bedroom and bathroom in one of the barns.
Outside:Superb gardens, woodland and paddocks, 31 acres in all. Two restored and converted stone barns.
Price: £1.65 million
Agents: Strutt and Parker, Exeter, 01392 215631, www.struttandparker.com