Positioned with unparalleled views directly overlooking Falmouth Harbour is this exceptional Georgian Grade II-listed double-fronted villa, arguably the best Georgian townhouse in the South West of England. Beautifully designed and recently renovated to an exacting standard, the house is set over four light-filled levels with six bedrooms and extends to over 5,300 sq ft internally. The painstaking restoration encompasses countless historic and complementary details, with architectural fittings, cabinetry, sanitary and brassware from England’s very best suppliers; works were carried out to the highest standard by local craftsmen and artisans. The home has a private southwest-facing tiered Georgian garden and much-coveted parking for multiple vehicles. Additionally, there is a charming one-bedroom ancillary guest cottage at the rear of the house. Falmouth has a rich maritime history and is brilliantly positioned on the south cornish coast, benefiting from the county’s best beaches. Direct trains from Truro to London Paddington run and take just over four hours, with hourly services; Cornwall Airport (Newquay) is 50 minutes’ drive away.
Setting the Scene
One of Falmouth’s landmark houses, this home is one of a pair of grand waterfront villas. The houses were built in 1792 by Sir Francis Basset, 1st Baron de Dunstanville (of Poldark fame), who made his mark developing Portreath, exporting ore from the family’s copper mines. He soon began building substantial residences for the wealthy packet ship captains around Penryn and Falmouth on the family’s land. This house was subsequently let on tenancies for families drawn to Falmouth for its naval importance when Britain was overseeing a growing empire overseas.
Owned by just six families in its entire history, the house had been structurally well-preserved. However, many of the original features were lost over time. Recent works have brought this remarkable home back to its original glory, involving a total overhaul of the entire building. Brickwork pointing and interior plasterwork repairs are all lime-based, the Welsh slate roof has been reinstated, and all the six/six sash windows to the front of the house have been replaced, with the rear windows refurbished. While the home has meticulously been brought back to its original incarnation, it remains a functional modern home, with three-phase power, a total high-grade replumb, rewire and Tado smart heating controls throughout.
The painstaking restoration also encompasses countless historically based and newly introduced details, including handsome Berdoulat kitchen cabinetry, Carron cast-iron radiators and Optimum Brasses ironmongery. Handsome chimneypieces feature Esse wood-burning stoves, and bathroom fittings are by England’s very best suppliers, including William Holland, Barber Wilsons and Chadder and Co. Electric plates throughout the home are uniformly flush, unlacquered brass. Where lost, Georgian plasterwork, cornicing, window boxes, shutters, architraves, and door frames were reinstated using existing examples for historical accuracy. Carrara marble has also been employed generously in all wet areas throughout the house. The attention to the most minute of details in the home is exceptional. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is set back from Stratton Place on an elevated position behind original wrought-iron railings with fleur de lis finials. Granite steps ascend to the front garden with a circular central lawn bound by well-stocked beds and a stone path around the perimeter. The main elevation of the house is pleasingly symmetrical, with the lower-ground floor constructed from granite ashlar. The upper floors are brick-fronted and laid in Flemish bond in a wonderful pattern of red and grey blues. The roof is laid with Welsh slate, and two glass dormer windows are inset. The rear of the house is built in a more vernacular style, its elevation made from coursed rubble stone. It offers a pleasing juxtaposition and is punctuated with a slate tile-hung two-storey outshut, a later Victorian addition.
The front elevation is five bays wide. The new six/six-sash windows have painted keystones set into the red brick voussoirs above, and there are painted quoins at either side of this elevation; the eaves feature a beautiful cornice of rosettes and triglyphs. Dressed granite steps ascend to the entrance balcony, bound by original handrails. The grand pedimented and round-arched central doorway is flanked by Roman Doric fluted half-columns and has a cobweb fanlight. A separate set of steps descend to the lower lightwell, which is wide and wraps around the entire house, offering independent access to both the lower-ground floor rooms and the rear garden.
Entry is to the wide interior porch and onto the central hallway. The house is built on a double-depth plan, with four main rooms on each floor. Original floorboards have been hand-restored, retaining the originally raised grain and stained a rich brown. A tall archway with a grand architrave leads to the fine open-well open-string staircase, which lies directly ahead, with simple stick balusters and a French polished mahogany handrail atop.
The drawing room has a Carrara marble chimneypiece and inset log basket, accommodating a working fire. Walls are bathed in Bauwerk’s limewash paint, in their greyish ‘Moth’ colour. Most principal rooms have this paint treatment, lending depth to the spaces. At the rear is the enveloping sitting room, where walls are papered in deeply embossed, dark grey Lincrusta wallpaper. The tall painted-oak chimneypiece has an Esse Lionheart woodburning stove with a top plate inset. An original glass-faced cupboard is set into one alcove.
The kitchen and dining room form a bipartite open space over 30 ft in depth, with dual aspect windows flooding the room with light. Views to the harbour and onto St Mawes and Flushing across the bay are exceptional from the front-facing rooms, even from the ground floor due to the house’s raised position. The dining room is set out at the front of the space, grounded by a great antique Kilkenny marble chimneypiece rescued from a home in Knightsbridge and installed by the current owners. This is inset with a Clearview woodburning stove—wainscoting features around the walls, with further Bauwerk paint used for the lime plaster walls above.
A large archway with fine mouldings opens to the kitchen at the rear. Cabinetry is custom-built for the room by Berdoulat, and the integrated appliances are by Liebherr. An Esse six-door black enamel stove is set into the hearth, with two plates and an integrated induction hob for convenience. English Delft tiles are set above here, and the two Shaw’s butler sinks; the latter features specially commissioned designs illustrating many of the house’s previous inhabitants. An antique oak drying rack is positioned above the sinks. Brass wall taps are by Barber Wilsons, and a separate butler prep sink also has a custom-finished wall-mounted brass Quooker tap. The kitchen pantry is set to the side with a freestanding dresser with oak shelving; a cold room and wine store is at the end of the space, with an original champagne riddle.
The ground floor’s rear porch has original flagstones and acts as a boot room. It has a large butler sink atop Berdoulat furniture, brass Barber Wilsons taps and an unusual concertina folding door to the garden. A newly installed oak staircase descends to the lower ground-floor rooms. Ceiling heights are excellent as the entire floor has been dug down further, with an exceptionally high level of damp proofing employed – the same used for the local harbour walls. Underfloor heating has been installed underneath the hand-chipped limestone flags throughout this floor.
At the front of the plan is a bar and games room, with a further Esse Lionheart wood-burning stove set into the exposed-stone hearth. Crafted from walnut, the bespoke bar runs along one wall with a brass counter resting atop. A dishwasher and champagne fridge are integrated, and there is an ale pump. A butler sink sits to one side, resting atop a stand by Berdoulat, with an antique oak drying rack above. Adjacent is a playroom, though it has an original chimneypiece behind the climbing wall and electric points have been cleverly positioned to accommodate a bedroom, should it require a change of purpose. A home gym is set at the rear of this floor, and there is also a large utility-cum-boiler room. There are also two excellent wet shower rooms, the larger with Chadder and Co nickel-plated brassware and the smaller with Barber Wilsons unlacquered brassware, both in traditional designs.
On the first floor are four large bedrooms and two bathrooms. The Victorian outshut is home to a spacious bathroom with tall ceilings set into the open pitch roof. A William Holland burnished brass bateau bathtub has Aston Matthews brass taps and a rainfall shower above. The custom-built Berdoulat vanity has Carrara marble resting atop, and two Lefroy Brooks sinks are inset. All bedrooms are carpeted with fitted sisal from the Crucial Trading Company and have original chimneypieces; views from the front bedrooms to the bay are wonderful. The second bathroom has a Jack-and-Jill arrangement with the main landing and one of the bedrooms, home to a roll-top bath set beside the window to enjoy the views, and a separate and spacious marble-clad shower area, with further brassware by Barber Wilsons.
On the uppermost floor, among the generous eaves, is the principal bedroom suite, encompassing the entire plan of the second storey at over 1,000 sq ft. Oak rafters and joists have been left exposed, lending an almost barn-like quality to the spaces, and the ceiling is inset with conservation-grade roof lights. Flooring is reclaimed Welsh oak, specifically chosen for its distinct patina to echo the wooden planks on the floors below. A William Holland verdigris bateau bathtub is set in one dormer window. The views stretch from Greenbank Quay across the water in Flushing, round to Falmouth harbourside, taking in Trefusis headland, St.Mawes Castle, Falmouth Docks and the National Maritime Museum. A window seat is set into the second dormer, and a bed can be positioned to capture the same remarkable views. The dressing room is exceptionally generous. Here, banks of wardrobing have been made by the acclaimed Cornwall cabinet maker Samuel F. Walsh, with details made to mirror existing joinery in the house. The en suite has a spacious Carrara marble-clad shower enclosure, double ceramic sinks and nickel-plated brassware by Chadder and Co. This floor has a private entrance from the ground floor, with stone steps descending along the exterior to the rear garden terrace.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens to the rear of the house are southwest facing, with hard landscaping forming a series of three terraces leading to the very top of the plot at Penwerris Terrace, where there is private parking space for up to eight cars and separate access to the gardens. There is an additional service entrance to the gardens from the front of the house, along the side lightwell.
Immediately from the rear porch lies the charming ancillary cottage, attached to the rear of the house with its own separate entrance and recently wholly overhauled, with one bedroom and an open plan living room and kitchen. The courtyard terrace here has limestone flags underfoot and an incredible array of planting in the raised beds, with mature palms and lilies. Wisteria and clematis climb some 30 feet up a towering boundary wall; the scent is lovely in summer. Stone steps descend to the rear lightwell, which wraps around the lower ground floor and offers further access to this floor, bound by original decorative Georgian railings.
Granite steps ascend to the second tier of the garden, also featuring the same railings but with a cannonball found in the harbour acting as the base for the main baluster. Here Millboard decking, a hardy composite material cast to mimic grained oak, is used for flooring and as casing for flower beds and the terrace. The garden is entirely bound by old redbrick walls, tile-capped with beautiful miniature slate tiles in a charming vernacular manner. An apple blossom tree is positioned centrally, while succulents and tropical plants, including an excellent selection of ferns, banana plants, calla lilies and camellias, respond well to Cornwall’s favourable mild climate.
A path winds through the garden leading to a gate and the second tier to what is currently a kitchen garden, also fully walled and with a charming Edwardian greenhouse. The views across the harbour are exceptional from this position, and the area could be further developed as an additional seating terrace if required. The gardens culminate behind a further wooden gate with the private rear driveway and direct access from Penwerris Terrace. Many of the neighbouring driveways along the terrace have been developed to create independent homes, with this being one of the few remaining undeveloped plots. Subject to local planning consents, this plot could make an excellent second and fully independent home from the main house, and three-phase power has already been installed here, with immediate capacity for an EV charger if required.
Out and About
Cornwall’s south coast, facing the English Channel, is the fairer counterpart to its rugged, Atlantic-bashed northern side. This is the Cornwall of sheltered fishing villages, fields that gently slope into tidal creeks and verdant gardens filled with exotic plants that take to the warm summers. The St Mawes pedestrian ferry links Falmouth to St Mawes and the Roseland Peninsula with the Fal River & Estuary easily reached; the ferry runs three times an hour all year around and takes in both Pendennis and St Mawes Castle, as well as beautiful views of the coast. Seals are often seen on Black Rock from the ferry. This area of Cornwall also has some of the UK’s best sub-tropical gardens, including the National Trust Trelissick Gardens, Trebah and Durgan, located close to the Helford River. The opportunity for picturesque coastal walks is boundless.
Falmouth is built around the world’s third-largest natural harbour. In the summer, the town is a haven for sailors, with club racing finishing three times a week on the water within sight of the house. The port regularly hosts high-profile yachting and water sports events, including the Tall Ships and former America’s Cup J-Class yachts. Falmouth Yacht Marina is a 10-minute walk upriver and just 100 yards from the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and Greenbank Quay.
The cathedral city of Truro is approximately 20 minutes by car and offers good private schooling and mainline rail links to London Paddington. It has a small high street with a good selection of independent shops and cafes, a cinema, galleries, museums and a theatre. 108 Coffee House, Red Elephant Beer Cellar and Great Cornish Food Store are of special note. Falmouth has an excellent university, a great selection of sandy beaches and the landmark National Maritime Museum. The town has plentiful independent provisors, with an increasingly excellent range of restaurants, including Hylton Espey’s Michelin-starred Culture restaurant at Custom House Quay.
Further fine dining Michelin star and high-profile restaurants are abundant in south Cornwall, including Rick Stein in Padstow, Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, Michael Caines in Maenporth and Porthleven, and Paul Ainsworth in Padstow and Rock. Dorian Janmaat at the Idle Rocks in St Mawes, just across the bay, is also recommended.
Newlyn is around 45 minutes by car, a popular town that has been renowned for its art scene since the 1880s, when painters like Stanhope Forbes and Henry Scott Tuke congregated there and at St Ives, creating work that captured everyday Cornish scenes in the impressionist style. Their legacy is continued today by the Newlyn Art Gallery, established in 1895 to display work by members of the Newlyn School but now focuses on contemporary artists.
The geodesic biome domes at the Eden Project, designed by Nicholas Grimshaw in the late nineties, are around 50 minutes’ drive to the northeast, Tate St Ives to the northwest is 45 minutes’ drive, and the popular towns of Padstow and Newquay are also easily reached by car in 55 and 45 minutes, respectively.
Truro School, Truro High School for Girls and Mount Hawke Academy are among some of the excellent schools nearby, as well as more locally, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and Falmouth School in Falmouth Town.
Travel links to south Cornwall are very good, with the A30 dual carriageway just north of Truro giving fast access to the M5 motorway at Exeter. Direct trains from Truro to London Paddington run just over four hours, with hourly services. Cornwall Airport (Newquay) also provides regular shuttle flights to London Gatwick, Stansted and many other seasonal European destinations and is 50 minutes’ drive from Stratton Place.
Council Tax Band: G
Falmouth is named after its position at the mouth of the River Fal. In 1540, Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle in Falmouth to defend Carrick Roads. Sir John Killigrew created the town of Falmouth shortly after 1613. The castle was an important strategic point in defending England from the threat of the Spanish Armada in the late 16th century and the later Civil War. Falmouth harbour continued this defensive tradition, with Royal Navy squadrons permanently stationed here in the 18th century.
The Falmouth Packet Service operated out of Falmouth for 160 years between 1689 and 1851, its purpose was to carry mail to and from Britain’s growing empire. Although a natural harbour, Falmouth Docks were fully developed from 1858, and remain the largest port in Cornwall. Tourism became a secondary industry in the area after the Cornwall railway reached Falmouth in 1863.
Interested? Let’s talk
- The Plot Thickens: six homes with glorious gardens for saleGardens / Homes
- Inspiration of the Week: a shore winner on the Suffolk seasideHomes
- A Private View: the irresistible charm of Emma Milne-Watson’s Georgian rectory in West SussexHomes / Interiors
- A Private View: finding the former glory of a Georgian townhouse in IslingtonHomes
- A Home with a History: reflections on rural life in Gavin Plumley’s Tudor house on the edge of EnglandInterviews