A labour of love
Tikembret has been a labour of love over the years since we moved here in 2002. This is how we came to find it, or rather how it drew us to it.
Towards the end of the 1990s it was becoming clear that with the end of seasonality, and the success of Sainsbury’s buy-one-get-one-free, our fruit farm in the Midlands was rapidly becoming unviable.
Ann and I made the decision to sell up and move at Easter in 2001. We had decided to move to Cornwall and convert a farm into holiday accommodation, to run as a business.
We had three young sons, Nick, Will and James who were all still at primary school so the move for them would be easier than if they were older.
We sold our farm in September 2001, having spent much of that summer looking for the ideal place; we wanted several buildings to convert, a place on the coast-side of an arterial road, and a quiet peaceful location. It wasn’t easy to find the ideal spot but just as we were contemplating renting temporary accommodation, we found it!
Degembris Minor Farm, as it was then known, was owned by Cornwall Council and had been a dairy farm. The very grand early Victorian farmhouse was known locally as the best council house in Cornwall!
The property was badly advertised but we eventually discovered it late on a September evening. We decided to travel down first thing the next day and speak to the agent on the way, trusting we could visit.
The property was up for tender. The agent told us we were too late as the tender was officially up at 5pm the previous day, but as the bids had not yet been opened we had until Monday. Without being able to get inside the house we checked out the land, buildings, position and we were blown away with the place and just how perfectly it fit our criteria. We sat in the car writing a bid committing us to buying the place after a two hour visit without going inside the house.
In the final conversation with the rather long-winded agent later that week, I was told that someone else had bid more than I for the property but that he, it turned out, did not have the money. It was ours!
It took a huge amount of work to get the place in order and we finally opened the first cottages in the summer of 2007, having renamed the property Tikembret, which is a medieval version of Degembris (meaning ‘house on the confines’). The cottages are named after local mines (‘wheal’ means work or mine in Cornish).
We sold the house in 2010 and moved into another barn conversion around the corner. Now there is just one conversion left to do, in the courtyard – watch this space!
The photographs below were taken in 2005 before we started our renovations. They are lodged with Cornwall Council Archaeology Department.