- Through the Keyhole

PUBLISHED: 16:17 28 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

- Through the Keyhole

- Through the Keyhole

Sterling House in Marazion is an unusual property in terms of its size and location. Ian Wilkinson talks to its owners Ed and Mod Le Froy

Its quite unusual to find a period house of this size and particularly in a place like Marazion

This bed belonged to my fourth great grandfather, Thomas Le Froy. He was linked romantically to Jane Austen and the authors famous character, Mr Darcy, is thought to have been modelled on him

The small town of Marazion is a Cornish gem. A close neighbour to Penzance, it is, in character and ambience, far removed from the busy port town. Set in the beautiful Mounts Bay with the spectacular backdrop of St Michaels Mount, it has clean sandy beaches and panoramic views towards the Lizard and Lands End. It is a popular centre for wind surfing, kite surfing, sailing and, of course, surfing on Marazion beach and nearby Perranuthnoe.

Sterling House is on North Street and forms part of a small group of substantial Georgian town houses. The current owners are Edward and Mod Le Froy. Ed, a graphic designer by profession, grew up in Ireland and then lived in London for 18 years. His wife Mod, also from London, has a background in architecture. In their early 30s the couple sold their businesses in the capital and moved to Cornwall. They share an interest in surfing and since an important element of their graphic design business concerned surfing accessories and clothing, Cornwall seemed a natural destination. At first they rented a house in Sennen and then moved to the village of St Hilary. The birth of their son, seven years ago prompted Ed and Mod to look for somewhere a little less remote, which led them to Marazion and Sterling House.

Apart from offering a wider range of facilities for their young son, Marazion was also an ideal base for a trio of surf related businesses set up by Ed and Mod GB Surf School, GB Boarders and GB Boardriders, the latter being a charity focussed on disadvantaged children. Both the house and Marazion are perfect for us, says Mod. Its quite unusual to find a period house of this size and particularly in a place like Marazion. It has seven bedrooms, stunning views and a lovely garden and both Ed and I have large families so theres room for everyone to come and visit. And we can also use it to accommodate surfing customers.

The history of the house is uncertain. It seems likely that the original dwelling was a much smaller fishermens cottage with the rear of the house being extended first and then later a substantial Georgian front added in the early 1800s. At this time it is more than likely that the house was occupied by a person of some standing possibly a sea captain or other professional. In later years it was a school, then a boarding house. By the middle to end of the last century the house had fallen into disrepair. However it was then bought by the Oscar-winning film producer Simon Channing Williams who renovated the property to a very high standard and introduced some long overdue modern amenities. When we bought the house most of the work had been done, says Ed. We had to have some work done on the roof and some internal decoration but basically it was as you see it now.

In her past life, Mod was an architectural historian for the Royal Institute of British Architects. She can therefore appreciate the standard of renovation undertaken by the previous owner.

On the ground floor are three main living rooms the lounge, a dining room and a large kitchen. Light floods into the bright lounge from the large south-facing windows. The focal point of the room is an original period fireplace, together with a neutral colour scheme, rich carpeting and a mixture of comfortable, classic furniture. Only a contemporary light and a large flat screen television remind you that you are in the twenty first century. Throughout the house the furniture has been perfectly matched to the style and function of the room and it turns out that this evident expertise is no accident. Ive recently started a new company that specialises in the renovation of old British furniture and re-covering it in exciting contemporary styles! Ed tells me.

The dining room has rich wall covering hung with a variety of paintings with large French windows opening out on to the garden. In front of the window, a splendid rocking horse has pride of place and the room is furnished with leather armchairs and a circular dining table. In contrast, the kitchen is unashamedly modern with granite worktops, contemporary units and one of the largest stainless steel ranges that I have seen outside a professional kitchen!

The original staircases leading to the upper floors give access to seven bedrooms, all of which are en-suite. One of the smaller bedrooms on the first floor houses an enormous four-poster bed. This bed belonged to my fourth great grandfather, Thomas Le Froy, Ed tells me. He was linked romantically to Jane Austen and the authors famous character, Mr Darcy is thought to have been modelled on him. The bed and some other articles of furniture that were passed down to me, while of no great value, are naturally of great interest to Jane Austen aficionados.

The sea captains room occupies the whole of the top floor and is the most spectacular room in the house. It is reminiscent of the stern cabins occupied by the Master of the great sailing ships of the past. The room is incredibly long with great cast iron pillars and has wonderful views of the bay. It is furnished very much in a period style and if a sea captain had once owned the house, this is surely where he would have spent most of his time!

At the rear of the house, a small courtyard garden with palms and shrubs leads through wooden gates to extensive lawns and flowerbeds. Secluded and far removed from traffic noise and the hubbub of the town, surrounded by exotic plants and the heady scent of flowers you could be in another world. Truly the crowning glory of a beautiful and elegant house.

While the Le Froy family lives in Sterling House during the winter months and early spring, it is available to let during the summer months.

For further information visit: www.cornishcottageholidays.co.uk


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