The National Trust owns several properties in South Devon and they all have something to commend them, but I think my favourite has to be Coleton Fishacre.
It’s a bit out of the way, but that’s one of the attractions of this estate that includes a magnificent garden that sweeps down to the sea and a house that evokes the bygone jazz age of the 1920s.
The man behind the creation of Coleton Fishacre was Rupert D’Oyly Carte, whose father, Richard, was the producer of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas.
Rupert, who incidentally was also the inspiration for P.G Wodehouses’s Rupert Psmith, inherited the family business including the Savoy Hotel and Claridge’s in London.
It was on a sailing trip between Brixham and Dartmouth with his wife Dorothy, that he saw the potential of the valley above Pudcombe Cove for building a home on the coast.
It’s not difficult to see why they chose this spot, and in 1923 he set about building Coleton Fishacre which took three years to finish.
After completion, Dorothy lived here permanently, while her husband came down every weekend after spending the week in London running the business.
He had already started to change the design of his London theatre and hotels to a more Art Deco style, and he introduced the same style at Coleton.
Although most of the original furnishings were sold years ago, a visit to the house still has that 1920s feel to it. The Saloon and Library are my particular favourite rooms.
In 1936 the couple separated, and the house was passed on to their daughter, Bridget, although she never lived here.
She sold it in 1949 to Roland Smith, the owner of the Palace Hotel in Torquay, and in 1982 it was offered to the National Trust who opened it to the public in 1999.
One thing that I really like about the house at Coleton Fishacre is that it feels like a home – and surrounded as it is by a fantastic garden, it just has that nostalgic feel to it that you just don’t get everywhere. I love it.