<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER 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-togethers Mike 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-togethers Mike 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 House There 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 Totnes This 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 art Mike�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 Totnes This 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 Century Mike 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 Century Mike 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-cons This 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

Monday, July 24, 2017

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

Read more
Monday, July 17, 2017

Catherine Courtenay discovers peace and calm in Fi Reddaway’s garden on the edge of Dartmoor

Read more
Monday, July 10, 2017

When it comes to enjoying a spectacular view over the Devon countryside, the only way is up. Chrissy Harris visits a clever tree top house, built with romance in mind...

Read more
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kate Haskell visits a holiday park which is changing perceptions…and also has top quality food from a familiar face on the menu

Read more
Monday, May 22, 2017

Misha and Lucy Smith have used their combined expertise and vision to give a centuries old building a strikingly modern feel. Chrissy Harris went to see their versatile family home

Read more
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A once-derelict farmhouse and barn near Ashburton has been restored to become a peaceful paradise, writes Natalie Millar-Partridge

Read more
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Escape it all and enjoy your garden with the perfect view - from your very own garden room

Read more
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pig’s nose, Pendragon and Sack of Sugar...RHS Garden Rosemoor is planting a new heritage orchard featuring these and around 40 other of the county’s unique apple varieties, writes Catherine Courtenay

Read more
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The superbly stylish Tavy House is a triumph of city chic and rural charm. Chrissy Harris went to meet the owners who have certainly made their mark on this very contemporary Victorian villa

Read more
Monday, March 27, 2017

Stunning but well hidden, the magnificently grand Strode House sneaks up on you. Chrissy Harris went to look around this big and beautiful home

Read more
Monday, February 20, 2017

Coleton Fishacre at Kingswear was once the weekend retreat of theatre impresario Rupert D’Oyly Carte. Now the National Trust is restoring it to its original 1930s glory, as Nicola Lisle discovers

Read more
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gardeners in Devon who plan to grow food crops this year are being invited to a special seed swap event this month.

Read more
Monday, February 13, 2017

The views are stunning, but it’s the utility room at Drake House that has Chrissy Harris hooked

Read more
Monday, February 6, 2017

Every month we feature our favourite Devon home for sale from the town, the coast and the country

Read more
 
Its Christmas advert link
 
Pure Weddings advert link
 
South West Life advert link
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad
Devon Life Application Link


Local Business Directory

Devon's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search