I love reading the property pages and either drooling over the images of some mansion or other far out of my reach, or congratulating myself on having found the house of our dreams in our little corner of East Devon.
It's been some time since I posted news of either Budleigh or Brewster houses for sale, but my thoughts turned to drooling the other day when my friend Annie and I decided last Saturday to walk to Sidmouth. Actually we got the bus to Otterton, so we cheated a bit. But tackling the steep climb along the coast path after a picnic on Ladram Bay beach was quite tough enough.
Ladram Bay pebble beach showing one of the stacks
It's a fairly straightforward well-indicated walk to Sidmouth through the woods and then down the other side of Peak Hill, and then up again of course - because it's Devon and valleys are the main feature of the county's landscape. But suddenly you find yourself on the road leading down into the town, and passing some fairly droolable properties with magnificent views over the bay.
Jane Austen: while staying in Sidmouth she reputedly fell in love with a young clergyman who sadly died
Fate seemed to have had a hand in guiding us down that twisting Peak Hill road. For just as I'd been wondering whether the Museum should be doing something to mark Delderfield's centenary we suddenly found ourselves walking past the house which he'd apparently had built for himself in the 1950s. And there was a 'For Sale' notice outside.
The view from 'The Gazebo'
I wouldn't argue with any of that. "£1.5m?" I wondered as we carried on down the hill past the "lovely private gardens" sheltered from curious eyes by a high stone wall. With only just three bedrooms, one of which could serve as a dining room, I saw that it was indeed a cottage rather than a mansion, so revised my estimate downwards. But still, with that view... The actual guide price of £795,000 didn't seem astronomical. And there is that literary link. "A famous author's house!" to boast about at your intimate dinner parties prepared on that pale green Aga I saw in a photo of the kitchen. So I'm not all that surprised to see three days later that 'The Gazebo' is under offer.
R.F. Delderfield (1912-1972)
But what of Ronald Frederick Delderfield? He's certainly someone with local links of which Fairlynch is aware. Butterfly Moments, his biography by Marion Lindsey-Noble is on sale in the Museum shop. And I see, thanks to Topsham blogger Ray Girvan's scholarly article at
http://www.devonhistorysociety.org.uk/2009/11/changing-landscapes-changing-names.html that Delderfield describes a real part of the coast between Budleigh and Exmouth in his 1950 novel Farewell the Tranquil Mind. Clearly he loved our area. In 1947 he even wrote a book about it called The fascinating history of Budleigh and district: A curtain peep at a thousand years.