Devon's prettiest homes: A riverside new-build in Appledore
PUBLISHED: 11:38 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:38 26 March 2019
Life's never dull when you've got miles of estuary, rescue boats, wild horses, and people to watch. CHRISSY HARRIS takes in the views from a delightful waterside home | Photography: Rob Coombe
Typical. You wait to visit a house in Appledore and then two come at once. Just a few days after visiting last month’s Through the Keyhole, I was back up in one of my favourite bits of North Devon to see another amazing place, this time a modern new build on the other side of the village.
Number One, the Lifeboat Strip is, as its name suggests, right next to the area’s lifeboat station, and therefore commanding views of the Taw and Torridge Estuary come with the territory.
From their unique vantage point, owners Mark and Clare Flower can see as far as Hartland Point, the village of Clovelly and back across the sand dunes at Saunton, with everything in-between.
“It’s incredible,” says Mark, 61. “We soon realised that you could find somewhere that just looked out over the blue sea but this changes twice a day. There’s always something to look at.
“The sea’s at its farthest out at the moment – you can always tell that by looking at the lifeboat,” says Mark, pointing to the bright orange RNLI rescue vessel, just about bobbing around in the very shallow water.
“You can see Lundy Island and the Burrows if you look that way,” says Clare, 57. “It’s lovely seeing the wild horses there.”
Yep. Sigh. It’s pretty easy to work out why the couple chose this particular spot to build their dream holiday home.
Mark and Clare found this patch of land after a two-year search up and down the south coast of the country, from Poole to Fowey.
When they came across a slightly sorry-looking detached bungalow with planning permission on an odd-shaped plot in Appledore, they knew it would be perfect. They could build two houses, keep one as a holiday home/let and sell the other. It wasn’t the first time they’d done this type of thing.
Mark, a civil structural engineer and Clare, a chartered surveyor, run a property consultancy business in Hampshire and have been working with holiday lets for years.
The couple have six children, three of whom are chartered surveyors and their son, David, is an architect and led the build. To say this project was in safe hands is an understatement.
“It was interesting having my son as the architect,” says Mark. “He had to keep telling me, Dad, you’re the client. You can’t keep going straight to the contractor, asking for this, that and the other. He had to put me in my place on a few occasions!”
Once clear boundaries were defined, the year-long build was straightforward, really straightforward.
“You see all these Grand Design programmes and you must hear it interviewing people about all the things that can go wrong with building houses but it went incredibly well,” says Mark, perhaps sensing the slight disappointment in my face.
“We took a chance because we didn’t know any of the builders here but the ones we used, Anderson and Evans in Barnstaple were really good,” he adds.
“It overran a little bit but that was more to do with us making slight changes.”
The triangular shaped plot was tricky to work with but it could have presented far more challenges to less experienced property developers.
Mark, Clare and David have used the space perfectly, creating a contemporary house, which somehow manages to slot in rather unnoticed among the Victorian terraces nearby.
Clever tricks such as framing modern aluminium-finished sliding doors with Portland Stone and combining glass balustrades with local stone boundary walls, mean this house doesn’t show off too much from the outside.
But inside, it’s a different story. Everything urges you to drink in that view. Huge windows let it in through the lounge and kitchen before you head upstairs to see even more of it from the sheltered roof terrace.
“The view just isn’t interrupted by any lights or buildings,” says Mark, as we gaze out, yet again. “Wherever you look out there, it’s all natural and unspoilt.”
“We’ve sat out there on the roof terrace until midnight before,” says Clare. “It’s surprisingly sheltered from the wind. You’re right on the front but you don’t feel too exposed and it gets the sun all day. It’s beautiful.
“We watch the rowers and the fishing boats. It’s very quiet – apart from when they get a shout at the lifeboat station - but that’s always interesting to see.”
You certainly don’t need a TV here. Appledore is the entertainment.
“The people are so friendly, warm and welcoming,” says Clare. “We love it.”
“Everybody has been so complimentary about what we’ve achieved here,” adds Mark. “It’s a superb place.”
Here, here. However, other beautiful homes in other parts of Devon are available. I promise I’ll try to visit somewhere else next month.
A WORD FROM THE ARCHITECT
Clare and Mark’s architect son David led the design project. He says: “Formulating the early stages of the design was very much a balancing act. On the one hand we had to tackle the challenging shape and topography of the site, whilst remaining respectful to the surrounding properties in the conservation area.
“On the other, we had maximise the opportunity to create a contemporary building fitting for the unique, sought-after plot.
“We are thrilled with the result, and are particularly proud of the estuary-facing elevation which can be enjoyed from different viewpoints as the tide oscillates throughout the day.”