Everything on a grand scale at farmhouse
It's a dazzling day in late September and I am eating a sun-warmed fig straight from the tree. It's luscious, sweet and completely delicious.
No, I am not on a Greek island, nor on a break in the South of France. I'm in South East Cornwall.
Dunstan Lodge is the original farmhouse that once owned the land now occupied by the world-renowned St Mellion Golf Course. This imposing but family-friendly house has now come onto the market for the first time in more than a decade.
"This is the sort of property that hardly ever comes up for sale," says Sam Elias of Bradleys , who is showing me around. She explains that the owners have already made the move further west into Cornwall to be near their grown-up children.
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"It's just so huge, with so much scope."
She's right, this house certainly is quite something. The original property was once a typical, if rather grand, Cornish farmhouse. But just as the nearby farmland is now a top-class 450- acre golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, where the likes of Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer have competed, the farmhouse too has undergone a transformation.
The farm's former living room is now a spacious hallway, where the stone fireplace and old bread oven is a feature, as are the huge slates of the farmhouse floor. In the dining room and the 23-foot long living room, high ceilings are adorned with ornate plaster mouldings and ceiling roses and a fireplace is stunningly carved from white marble.
But beyond that, the farmhouse's stone walls have been pierced through to lead to a stunning 60-foot long garden room which wraps right round the front of the house. This brings light and views into the ground floor as well as creating a south-facing space in which to relax or entertain. The garden room in turn opens out onto a decking balcony and the thoughtfully designed and well-established 2.4 acre landscaped garden.
Suffice to say, Dunstan Lodge is no ordinary Cornish farmhouse.
"It's just such a desirable place to be," says Sam. "You've got the world-class St Mellion golf course literally on your doorstep with all the additional facilities of its spa and the restaurants. But because the farmhouse has its own access, you are completely tucked away and tranquil, with views over open countryside."
It certainly is a peaceful spot and the potential traffic and comings and goings of the golf course do not impinge on the property. On the day I visit, the house is bathed in sunshine and one can imagine what a relaxing place it must be to live. "It's also the perfect house for socialising, though," says Sam. "There is just so much space for parties and entertaining here."
There certainly is. The house is blessed with so much space that it would be ideal for owners who have a big family or simply enjoy entertaining. There's also plenty of room for guests to stay over, too. Downstairs, a single storey annexe is connected through an internal door and has a 16 x 15ft kitchen, two bedrooms and also has a drive-in garage with internal door, and its own sun-trap patio area.
"It could be ideal for a teenager or an elderly relative to live in," says Sam. It has, usefully, been designed with disabled access in mind. There is a paved wheelchair ramp at the entrance and a huge 14 x 10ft bathroom where the top-of-the-range double-size spa bath offers plenty of bubbles and relaxation as well as an enormous easy-access wheelchair-friendly shower.
By now I've literally lost count of the number of rooms I've looked at – there is even a 25 ft basement room and a 36 ft internal garage – and I still haven't been upstairs to the first floor. So Sam and I make our way up the grand staircase and find ourselves on a light, roomy landing so well padded by expensive carpeting that my feet feel like they are bouncing on springs.
It comes as little surprise to learn that the owners ran a successful construction company. Everything here is on a grand scale, top-of-the-range and built to last.
There are four double bedrooms on the first floor, all with lovely views over the pretty farmland of this quiet, rural area. The master bedroom also has its own dressing room area and an enormous en-suite bathroom – 12 ft by 10 ft.
"You'd never guess we were 20 minutes away from Plymouth, would you?" asks Sam as I gaze out of the windows over fields and trees, with glimpses of the golf course. I have to agree but this house is by no means out in the sticks. Just a short drive from here, along quiet hedge-lined lanes, and you are on the main A38 road leading from Cornwall on up to Saltash and over the Tamar Bridge to Plymouth and Exeter. But as Sam says, you'd never know from the peace and tranquillity of the house and its surroundings how well connected it is.
All the four first-floor bedrooms have their own en-suite bathrooms and are decorated in a quiet, neutral style, with plain walls and white woodwork. In fact, the décor throughout the house is very much a blank canvas and rather reminds me of a top end hotel. You could move in straight away and live very comfortably or add your own design ideas to personalise the house to your taste.
As if four double bedrooms were not enough, there is a further set of stairs up to a simply vast top floor. Here the previous owner used to have his office and hold meetings. But this is no cramped office space in the attic. It is a huge light-filled space, 38ft long, where a king-size bed and sofas are dwarfed by the proportions. This room even has its own kitchen area.
Rather like the annexe downstairs, this top floor could be the answer for an extended family looking for accommodation for older children or relatives. Or perhaps it could suit a live-in nanny, or other staff. Alternatively, it would make an absolutely wonderful games and entertainment suite.
Outside, the house has secure electronic gates leading into its sweeping drive. The detached double garage has a large room over and is, in itself, the size of a modest three-bedroom house. I particularly admired the cleverly-designed garden, which benefits from the attentions of regular visits from a professional gardener. It is filled with thriving, well-established plants including lots of sculptural shrubs, heathers, pampas grass and hydrangeas.
Once again, the owners' interest in construction is evident in the garden's top-quality hard landscaping and stone terracing. This means that although the garden surrounds the whole house, almost of it is south-facing. No wonder the fig tree flourishes here.
The house has a double garage internally and another double garage in the garden. But the garden also has a paved helipad with landing lights. It is tucked away behind a hedge in a paddock so that you'd never know it was there.
Once I venture through the small unassuming gate, there is the helipad, complete with a sturdy 40ft x 32ft building previously used as a helicopter hangar.
"This building lends itself to so many uses," says Sam. Indeed it does, and with its own access drive and parking. It is positioned so as to avoid creating extra traffic to the house. "Live/work ideas of all sorts could be ideal for this. It is a very flexible building, built to such a high specification," says Sam.
I could see it being used for some sort of small business, or to store classic cars. Or perhaps as the "boy's toys" workshop of every man's dreams.
All in all, this is a house that is perfect for a lively, vibrant family to enjoy. It has clearly been the venue for plenty of fun, parties and entertainment over the years. No doubt it will soon be a secluded, yet sociable, family home once again.
It is on the market at £850,000 with Bradleys (01579 382999).