A rare catch on the river­side in Corn­wall

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Buying And Selling -

this part of the West Coun­try, 300 miles from Lon­don. It cur­rently has eight be­d­rooms and a string of re­cep­tion rooms, bath­rooms and boat stores, but can be con­fig­ured in dif­fer­ent ways. The lay­out means one part can be used as a self-con­tained three-bed­room hol­i­day let or as a guest wing, or even rein­te­grated into the main prop­erty to cre­ate a huge 4,000 sq ft fam­ily home.

Seventy years ago, things were dif­fer­ent. This was a three-storey stone barn with a slate roof, an old limekiln and an ad­join­ing store, un­til all three were turned into a home in the late For­ties by the neigh­bour­ing Trelowar­ren Es­tate, which sold it on in 1951.

The prop­erty is light and spa­cious, but its finest points are out­side. There is a sub­stan­tial quay, with wa­ter frontage along much of the six acres of grounds, and views across the creek and the river to­wards rolling farm­land hills as far as you can see. In short, it’s bliss.

There’s a hint of lit­er­ary her­itage as French­man’s Creek, the in­spi­ra­tion for Daphne du Mau­rier’s his­tor­i­cal novel, is just along the Helford River. Yet Bish­ops Quay is more rem­i­nis­cent of Swal­lows and Ama­zons: from one of the ter­races it’s easy to imag­ine fam­i­lies play­ing in a time­less idyll. “It was rather like that. Our en­ter­tain­ment many days was chil­dren on the mud­banks, us spot­ting king­fish­ers and herons, then sail­ing up to the pub,” re­calls Kate Kirby, who is sell­ing up.

Since she moved in around 1970, the view has hardly changed at all – most of the sur­round­ing area is pro­tected – while the Helford has re­tained its leg­endary sta­tus as one of the coun­try’s pret­ti­est sail­ing havens.

She’s looked after the hol­i­day let sin­gle-hand­edly for those decades, while her late hus­band, Ben, was fish­ing with a vengeance. In 1968 he bought a small trawler and went to sea, land­ing fish at the house be­fore tak­ing it to New­lyn, Corn­wall’s main fish­ing port.

“At first I’d take fish to give to lo­cal peo­ple or to sell door-to-door, but there was too much, so it be­came a fam­ily busi­ness,” says Kirby, whose son con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion to this day. There is a cold room and stores on the quay; the large fish­ing boat isn’t in­cluded in the sale but could be ne­go­ti­ated sep­a­rately. Any buyer of Bish­ops Quay could take on the fish­ing busi- ness and the life­style that goes with it. But Jonathan Cun­liffe, the es­tate agent sell­ing the prop­erty, feels this charm­ing house could now take on a 21stcen­tury use.

“This re­ally is one of Corn­wall’s finest prop­er­ties,” he says. “Peo­ple wait years for an op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase some­thing with this com­bi­na­tion of lo­ca­tion and fa­cil­i­ties.

“The buyer now may be some­one who’s sold a busi­ness or is re­tir­ing, but I can imag­ine all this space and the set­ting be­ing per­fect for some­thing like a cook­ery school. You could catch the fish, cook it, and stay in bou­tique rooms over­look­ing the Helford,” he sug­gests.

Cer­tainly, food is the new re­li­gion in Corn­wall, with a record 33 en­tries in the 2019 Good Food Guide and a string of Miche­lin stars. Per­haps that will be Bish­ops Quay’s fate, al­though it is tempt­ing to hope it is snapped up by a fam­ily who may fol­low on the Kir­bys’ tra­di­tion.

And what about that re­mark­able story about how this house was ac­quired by the Kir­bys? In the late Six­ties, they worked in Hel­ston and were asked by a well-heeled lo­cal with sev­eral nearby homes where they wanted to live. “On the river would be lovely, but too ex­pen­sive,” Kirby said at the time. Her dream was to come true, as she was told that if she could pay for the in­di­vid­ual’s new five-ring Aga, then a princely £3,500, Bish­ops Quay could be hers.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, they found the money and the deal was done. The 2018 price tag might be very dif­fer­ent, but there’s no deny­ing that, over the in­ter­ven­ing near-half cen­tury, this slice of Corn­wall has changed lit­tle. Let’s hope it stays the course. Bish­ops Quay is on the mar­ket at £3mil­lion through es­tate agent Jonathan Cun­liffe

The view of the Helford river from one of the be­d­rooms at Bish­ops Quay, Corn­wall Bish­ops Quay, with its six acres of grounds, is on the mar­ket for of­fers over £3m with Jonathan Cun­liffe

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