3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Devon Life today click here

Through the keyhole: Burgage House in Totnes

PUBLISHED: 15:07 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:07 24 July 2017

This is a striking home with all mod-cons

This is a striking home with all mod-cons

Matt Austin

The past meets the present head-on at Burgage House in Totnes. Chrissy Harris went to see a home fit for the modern age

Here we are, stood on an ancient site in England’s second oldest borough, staring in wonder at a high-tech glass cellar door that opens with the touch of a button.

There are many parallels to be drawn between the old and new, of history and of progress but for the moment, all I can say is: “Aaaarrrggh! That’s so cool!”

“It is, isn’t it?” says Mike Cast, owner of Burgage House in Totnes.

“This is quite extravagant but it’s great, such a clever design. I can store 2,000 bottles of wine down here and it’s all kept at 12 or 13 degrees. Perfect.”

Mike and Yve says their open-plan ground floor copes well with visitors and is perfect for family get-togethersMike and Yve says their open-plan ground floor copes well with visitors and is perfect for family get-togethers

The wine cellar is just one of the many ultra-modern features that make up this smart new-build in the heart of town.

Mike, 61, and his wife Yve, 58, really have thought of everything, from the incredible lighting system to the surround sound audio network, well-positioned works of art, steel and American walnut staircase and electronic gazebo.

This is as high-tech as a house gets and to think that it has all been built on a narrow strip of land that dates back to medieval times.

Burgage House takes its name from the fact it has been built on a ‘burgage plot’ an Anglo-Saxon term used to describe thin strips of land behind a townhouse.

Mike and Yve says their open-plan ground floor copes well with visitors and is perfect for family get-togethersMike and Yve says their open-plan ground floor copes well with visitors and is perfect for family get-togethers

In Totnes, these plots are the width of the merchants’ houses in Fore Street and used to be smallholdings.

This site was one of the last of its kind, a fact Mike and Yve quickly became aware of when they first started looking at building their dream home here.

“It took us a long time to get planning permission,” says Mike, with a slightly weary look.

“The conservation people wanted it to stay as it was because it was one of the only ones left,” adds Yve. “But it was in such a state.”

There are lots of aesthetically pleasing things in Burgage HouseThere are lots of aesthetically pleasing things in Burgage House

The land had been neglected for years and was massively overgrown by the time Mike stumbled across it just over three years ago.

He had bought a former solicitors’ office on Totnes’ Fore Street as an investment and converted the premises into a shop and two flats.

Once that project was complete, Mike turned his attention to the ‘jungle’ out the back and wondered if he could build a house on the site.

“It was so overgrown. Even if you were in the SAS, you wouldn’t have got in here,” says Mike. “Anyway, we started clearing it and we found this little pedestrian gate that we didn’t even know existed.”

This is a comfortable, modern home in the heart of TotnesThis is a comfortable, modern home in the heart of Totnes

The discovery marked the start of a long and complex planning process that eventually led to a fairly long and complex building process.

A few local residents weren’t happy about the development and made their feelings known, something Mike says he “totally understands”.

Then there was the logistics of trying to build a new house with very limited access for lorries etc.

“I think if we’d known then what we know now, we would never have done it,” says Mike. “That’s a typical Grand Designs-type saying, isn’t it?

Mike�s workspace is full of interesting objects and works of artMike�s workspace is full of interesting objects and works of art

“We had an archaeologist standing outside with his arms folded every day between 10am and 4pm for six weeks.”

The couple were certainly up against it so it’s all credit to their determination and commitment that Burgage House is here at all, let alone one of the most striking homes in the area.

The whole family has been involved in making this place look great, with evidence of each of their skills dotted all over the house.

Mike’s daughter Lucie, who runs a successful contemporary handbag business, stitched the leather bannister running up the steel and wooden staircase, created by her architect designer boyfriend Simon Hampshire.

�We pushed the boat out here and did a marble bathroom,� says Mike�We pushed the boat out here and did a marble bathroom,� says Mike

Simon also came up with the design for the table and his father, David, worked on the handrails.

“It’s a real family house. We’re so lucky,” says Mike, gazing out into the back garden where his mum’s ashes lie under a tree.

“So I’ve got my mum under the left tree, my dog under the right and the kids are living in the flats.”

Lucie, 24, and her brother Henry, 26, currently live in the flats Mike owns on Fore Street.

This is a comfortable, modern home in the heart of TotnesThis is a comfortable, modern home in the heart of Totnes

What’s that like?

“To be fair, we moved into their space because they were living here first but we hardly see them,” he says. “They were here yesterday for Lucie’s birthday though. That was great.”

Mike and Yve say they’re delighted with how well their new home copes with lots of visitors – something they’re used to.

For ten years, the couple ran Gitcombe House in Cornworthy, a huge Georgian mansion guesthouse, which they sold in October 2013.

Mike and Yve Cast have created a home fit for the 21st CenturyMike and Yve Cast have created a home fit for the 21st Century

“It was beautiful but every window rattled,” says Mike. “It was so drafty. In the winter it was bloody freezing. You had fires there because you had to have fires. We have fires here because they look nice.”

There are lots of aesthetically pleasing things in Burgage House put there, well, just because: from the wonderfully ornate 1970s Italian chandelier in the landing to the crochet deer head in the entrance hall.

“We’re really pleased with how it looks,” says Mike, agreeing that his home functions pretty well, too. “It was all tested out last Christmas when there was about 10 of us here. We were all laughing, dancing and bouncing around. It really did work.”

See castmade.co.uk

Mike and Yve Cast have created a home fit for the 21st CenturyMike and Yve Cast have created a home fit for the 21st Century

The architect for the Burgage House was Jon Capel of Harrison Sutton Partnership and the project manager was Richard Goulden of Goulden and Sons.

A well lit home

“The lighting is fantastic in this house,” says Mike. As well as some special looking lamps, uplights and downlights, there are even spotlights on the balcony that change colour. “When we moved in, there was a bit of a fault with the wiring,” says Mike. “It meant that the lights were flashing, going from green to red and back again.” One onlooker apparently told the couple “It looks like a strip club up there!” Thankfully, the problem was soon corrected.

This is a striking home with all mod-consThis is a striking home with all mod-cons

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Friday, August 3, 2018

From a hot tub Land Rover to a Romany caravan, Claire Saul picks out 7 Devon holiday lets that make hot topics for conversation

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two former city dwellers have found peace, quiet and a stunning home in an East Devon village. CHRISSY HARRIS went to visit The Old Rectory in Plymtree

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

The redevelopment of some rural Devon barns has unearthed a very unique link with our greatest statesman

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A creative couple with a passion for nature took on a derelict farmhouse in North Devon and used it to inspire their life’s work. CHRISSY HARRIS went to find out more | Photos: Matt Austin

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The luxury tree top escape is nestled in the grounds of The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in the North Devon countryside

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Devon’s iconic Burgh Island, famed for its art deco hotel and links to Agatha Christie, is being sold by owners Deborah Clark and Tony Orchard after almost 17 years.

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

The new owners’ renovation is expected to last a year and is planning to provide guests with vastly different experiences to what is currently offer

Read more
Thursday, March 22, 2018

As quirky homes go, a water tower on the site of a former asylum is certainly up there – quite literally. Chrissy Harris climbs to the top of a very impressive restoration project

Read more
Friday, February 23, 2018

It’s next to a famous hotel but this two-bedroom timber house in Gidleigh Park is in a league of its own. Chrissy Harris went to see how a beloved 1920s ‘kit home’ has been transformed into a luxury pad

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tucked away but in a prime position, Chrissy Harris visits a light, bright and cheerful home with a very impressive outlook

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Add colour to your garden now with the top flowers of March and this season will be all the brighter

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Peter Betteridge are offering customers the chance to win a luxury Vispring bed worth £3000 as part of their Craftsman Day and sale on Friday 16th February in their Honiton store

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Houseplants are a hot interior trend at the moment and can completely transform a room - but they have their downsides! Gardener and broadcaster Toby Buckland delivers his expert advice

Read more
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link
 
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Local Business Directory

Devon's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search