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Coleton Fishacre

©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert

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Visitors walking the delightful South West Coastal Path from Kingswear along the Dart Estuary will spy this delightful family home, built in the 1920s for the D'Oyly Carte family. Like many visitors to Devon, the D'Oyly Cartes fell in love with this scenic area.

They saw the idyllic location whilst sailing their boat between Brixham and Dartmouth and decided to build their dream holiday retreat, complete with 30-acre tropical gardens.

Rupert D'Oyly Carte was the son of the founder of the D'Oyly Carte operetta company, who also owned the Savoy Hotel. He and his wife frequently entertained distinguished guests with their London social connections, no doubt enjoying music from the Bluthner piano which remains on show
©NTPL/Chris Vile
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in the saloon.

Nestled into the steep slopes of the combe, overlooking Pudcombe Cove, is the long stone-built house with its steep Delabole slate roof, mullioned windows and tall chimneys. It was designed by Oswald Milne, assistant of Edward Lutyens, and built in the Arts and Crafts style which was in vogue at that time.

The house remains only partly furnished, but has some superb Art Deco light fittings. The main 12-metre (40-foot) long sitting room displays elegant touches of Modernism with stunning views of the gardens. Just outside, the vine-draped loggia was the perfect place for al fresco dining and entertaining.

The house has a very homely atmosphere, particularly as Gilbert and Sullivan's popular operetta music plays in the background and there are frequent art exhibitions which fill the house with local colour.

The bedrooms are furnished with 1930s oak furniture in keeping with the period. The National Trust even had the original Raoul Dufy fabrics, designed especially for Lady d'Oyly Carte's bedroom, reprinted and used for the curtains, cushions and seatcovers.

Beneath the house, in a natural amphitheatre is a terraced garden, richly planted with
©NTPL/Dennis Gilbert
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unusual species. The small winding paths and steps make it an enchanting place to explore. The gushing stream is lined with all types of plants and the mild seaside climate has allowed a veritable jungle of exotic plants to thrive here.

Down on the bay, the owners built a tidal saltwater swimming pool which is still in place.

In the spring the mature specimen trees of magnolia, vivid red Chilean fire trees, tulip trees, dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias put on a beautiful display of colour. Visitors should drink in the splendid sea views from the gazebo in the midst of these luxuriant south-facing gardens.

The National Trust arranges a guided walking tour of the gardens each day for those wanting to know more about the New Zealand and Mediterranean plants. Many of the plants had to be identified by the National Trust botanist as they were so unusual.

The award-winning "Taste of the West" tea room serves excellent Coleton cream teas and there is a lovely plant centre selling plants propagated from the gardens. There is also a shop selling Art Deco themed gifts and china to complete your visit.

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Bus services:
Stagecoach in Devon 120 Paignton-Kingswear; otherwise Stagecoach in Devon 22/4 Brixham-Kingswear (with connections from Paignton). On all, alight ¾ mile south west of Hillhead, 1½ miles walk to garden

View local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website

By Road:
3 miles from Kingswear; take Lower Ferry road, turn off at toll house (take care in narrow lanes). 6 miles from Brixham, take A3022 to Kingwear, turn left at toll house. Narrow entrance and drive

By Train:
Paignton 8 miles; Kingswear (Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway) 2¼ miles by footpath, 2¾ miles by road.

On Foot:
South West Coast Path within ¾ mile.

Ordnance survey reference:

Coleton Fishacre Postcode for SatNav: TQ6 0EQ


+44 (0)1803 752 466
+44 (0)1803 753 017

Brownstone Road

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