Beach houses with views that inspired two great 20th-century writers

A spectacular surfers’ paradise beach house, with views over the lighthouse Virginia Woolf described in one of her most famous novels, is up for sale.

The modern three-bedroom house is in the seaside hamlet of Gwithian in St Ives Bay on Cornwall’s north coast, and overlooks 160-year-old Godrevy Lighthouse, which Woolf used as the basis for her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse.

Although the novel is set on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Godrevy Lighthouse is widely acknowledged as the inspiration for the seminal work and attracts visitors from around the world.

Woolf spent her summers until she was 13 staying at Talland House in St Ives looking out across the bay towards the rocky outcrop, crowned with the white lighthouse and many features described in the novel were drawn directly from her time spent there and the local landscape.

The beach house for sale is further round the bay from St Ives, set on extensive sand dunes close to the lighthouse.

With an asking price of £1.5 million, the house is on the market for almost seven times the average sold price for a property in the TR27 postcode.

For that money you get 2,500sq ft of architect-designed living space with uninterrupted panoramic views over the surf beach and lighthouse beyond.

The chalet-style house has an open-plan kitchen/living/dining room under an 18ft-high vaulted ceiling, with a glazed wall facing the sea – perfect for whiling away hours watching sea storms when the weather’s too bad to brave the wraparound deck, accessed through bi-fold doors.

There are also two double bedrooms and the main bathroom on the ground floor.

Upstairs a galleried chillout area also offers lighthouse views and there’s a large master bedroom suite under the gabled roof.

The bay is not only a surfers’ paradise but is also home to a variety of wildlife, including a protected seal colony in a cove a short walk around the cliff.

Camborne station is a 12-minute drive away, from which direct trains to London take at least four and a half hours.

If your literary tastes are slanted more towards mystery and suspense, you should head to Daphne du Maurier country on Cornwall’s south coast where another impressive waterfront home with stunning seaside views is available for just under £1 million.


£950,000: the four-bedroom house near Fowey in Cornwall

The house in Readymoney Cove is one of only a handful of properties in a secluded spot at the mouth of the Fowey River, less than a mile away from where the author of Rebecca and The Birds – memorably adapted into a film by Alfred Hitchcock – lived.

Du Maurier set many books in Cornwall including Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel and Frenchman’s Creek, often using the county as a backdrop for her historical novels.

Fowey is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world, attracting large amounts of commercial and leisure traffic today, and getting quite a reputation for smuggling in the past – perfect fodder for the writer of atmospheric novels. 

The cottage currently for sale dates back around 300 years but has been given a complete overhaul by the current owners – who bought it as a “wreck” in 2007, according to Dominic Skerry, director of Lillicrap Chilcott, the agent handling the sale.

Having “spent a fortune on it”, the current owners now rent it out for around £1,700 per week as a holiday let in high season. 

The four-bedroom cottage is 50 yards from a sandy beach and features an upstairs living space with an open plan dining room and kitchen opening out onto a balcony with views of the estuary.

Downstairs, as well as three bedrooms and a bathroom, there’s a slate-paved terrace and a detached workshop.

“People tend to hold on to these homes for 30 or 40 years, so it may only be once in a lifetime opportunity to buy it,” says Skerry.


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