WELCOME TO SCHOFIELD'S HOUSE
PUBLISHED: 12:04 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:21 30 August 2017
Once home to a young Phillip Schofield, The Bulrushes occupies a quiet corner of Cornwall - just minutes away from the vibrant town of Newquay and its famous beaches...
Take a slow drive down a narrow road in Crantock which cuts a swathe through gently rolling fields (watch out for the deer) across the ford (check your brakes) and you will find yourself outside an immaculately restored lime rendered 17th century mill house. Stop awhile outside and you’ll notice the hardwood windows are painted in a heritage olive-grey to complement the traditional lime render, a casually placed garden seat provides the perfect spot to take in the tranquil surroundings.
Welcome to The Bulrushes. Now split into two homes, the current owners rent out one side, while occupying the smaller half part of the year. Bought in 2009, it took Sam Wood and Chris Shaw two years to find the house they wanted and decided unanimously on what was originally named Trerice Mill. They were drawn to its quirkiness, the beautiful setting, the peace and tranquillity that surrounds it despite being close to the North Coast – Crantock and Newquay’s world famous Fistral Beach is a mere ten-minute drive away.
We were looking for a property that was close enough to local amenities and the beaches of the north coast, yet secluded enough to be unaffected by near neighbours. It took over two years of renting in Cornwall before we found the right property for us,’ says Sam.
Bought as a family home, the mill was already split into two homes – with the smaller side used as an annex – with nothing but secret doors on the ground and first floors hinting at the space beyond.
Today we are welcomed into The Bulrushes, the larger side of the mill house which has been newly renovated and interior designed to delight visitors who can rent this slice of Cornwall idyll through Unique Homes.
Through the front door and its small porch, we enter the main room of the house. The low-beamed ceiling is painted in light cream colours to brighten the room, while differing shades of blue are used – from the light-painted shutters in the windows that line the exterior wall, to the petrol blue of shelving that sits snugly under the unobtrusive stairs to the first floor.
The eye is immediately drawn to the porthole mirror that sits over the fireplace and reflects back the whole room in all its quirky and cosy style. The long room is broken into a dining space dominated by a huge scrubbed wooden table, where vintage chairs and a sheepskin draped bench provide plenty of seating and a cosy nook by the fireplace which is sectioned off by a high wooden bench created from ancient wood that holds outsized blue glass lamps. Created from three reclaimed granite blocks seemingly perfectly balanced, the fireplace encases a wood-burning fire. The naturally aged and weathered granite is very much in keeping with the type of fireplace that would be expected in a property of this age and provides a focal point to the 35ft long room and has the added benefit of acting as a heatstore – radiating heat for several hours after the fire has died down. A vibrant blue velvet Chesterfield sits opposite the black blue wall which cleverly manages to camouflage the flat screen TV on one side of the fireplace. A pair of vintage chairs flank the sofa, just begging to be curled up in on cold dark nights with a glass of wine and a good book – perhaps something by Winston Graham or Daphne du Maurier from the bookshelves.
Recent, extensive refurbishments have been carried out under the expert guidance of interior-designer Siobhan Hayles whose transformation of the lounge, staircase and bedrooms reflects the unique nature of this old house.
The owners are proud of the house’s history. And rightly so. In a county where the fisherman’s cottages that line ancient harbours and the grand edifices of mine captain’s houses reign in our minds as the epitome of Cornish architecture, this former flour mill (circa 1680) offers a link to a different side of Cornwall’s past.
Without a straight line or right angle in the building, there is no purpose in seeking perfection in evenness of finish,’ they admit. We have tried to maintain the warmth of character of an ancient cottage with the comforts and luxuries of modern day living. We are continually looking towards the next stage of refurbishment and have tried to use local craftsmen for all the work undertaken, drawing on their expertise of working with the eccentricities of old cottages such as ours.’
The mill house was once part of the Trerice Estate, the 16th century home of the Arundell family which is now under the careful stewardship of the National Trust. When the mill closed it became a store for furniture and staff who worked at the big house. And when it was sold on to the local farm, the servants were replaced by farm labourers. But the remains of the leat that drove the wheel of the mill remains in the gardens.
The mill has been through a few names in the centuries since it was built - both official and unofficial. Jump forward a few centuries and you will enter the rather basic home of Old Granny Willett. Her family rented the house for more than a century from the mid-1800s. As a widow, she lived in two rooms of the house, but allowed herself the luxury of heating through a Cornish range cooker but refused to have an internal toilet - although she relented in her later life to having running water installed. In honour of this formidable Cornishwoman, many older residents of Newquay, know the mill as Granny Willett’s House. For younger residents (and visitors) it has a different name: Schofield House in honour of former resident Phillip Schofield, who’s family moved here during the 1980s; legend has it his old bedroom is now the family bathroom. He was soon fronting children’s TV alongside Gordon the Gopher in the famous BBC broom cupboard (his teenage bedroom is opulent by comparison), before joining Sarah Greene in Going Live.
The Bulrushes features a farmhouse style light green painted kitchen. Here the deep sill of the window provides the perfect breakfast bar for two where you can while away an hour or two spotting deer and other wildlife in the gardens opposite.
The kitchen combines old world charm with contemporary living: a five burner induction hob, double oven and dishwasher. A nearby utility room – which could be mistaken for the kitchen itself – houses the other white goods associated with 21st century living.
Head up the painted stairs and step up into a snug master bedroom which holds a huge double-bed facing a low window looking out to the garden. You can also indulge in a spot of stargazing through the perfectly positioned skylight. Head out along the light-strewn corridor which ends abruptly with a secret (locked) door leading to the other side of the house still used by the family. There’s another connecting door in the house – see if you can spot it!
The Bulrushes is available to rent through