Spring 2015 Updates and Offers!

Cream Tea Spring Offer at Downe Cottages

Spring 2015 Cream Tea Offer at Downe Cottages

A delicious Devon Cream Tea (homemade scones, Rodda’s Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve) will be waiting for you in your cottage for any stay arriving before 22nd May. Just give us a call or e-mail to book this Special Offer.


FREE WI-FI at Downe Cottages

We are pleased to announce that free wi-fi is now available in all our cottages as well as in our Reading Room – so all guests can stay in touch with the 21st Century if they wish!

We have also provided a printer for guests to use in the Reading Room (which can be accessed at any time) so your boss can relax as well as you – you will now be able to download and print all those urgent messages from the office!

 iphone on bed


Don’t forget the Gym!

Finally, may we remind you that the Gym is now up and running at Downe (even if you aren’t!) with Life Fitness aerobic equipment in the Atlantic Room at Downe. It’s a super place for very civilised workouts!




Gone on the Wind

I bumped into one of our visitors in the garage, let’s call him Mike.

Mike was packing up after his visit and, while his head was deep in the boot of his car, he said in somewhat muffled tones:  “You and Lynda must be very proud of what you’ve created at Downe.”

I did what an Englishman does when paid a compliment and changed the subject.

Visitors to the Cottages and to our home have often said similar things but Lynda and I really don’t have that feeling of pride that one might expect.

The reason is that we haven’t created Downe. We’re not sure we have really owned it as one does a normal house. We have merely taken care of it.

There have been buildings at Downe in various forms for centuries.

Downe House, our home, began as a thatched one room dwelling above an open stone barn over five hundred years ago. That first family lived, worked and died in their home above the cattle and sheep.

Since then generations have been born here, lived, worked, loved and died here.


Complete families have come and gone with as much impression upon Downe as a field of corn.

Lynda and I are a part of Downe’s history but no more than a small part that is already lost on the wild Atlantic wind.

I think of the farmer and his wife who built the “L” shaped barn, one of the five barns that we converted into cottages. It is a lovely building and either the farmer or his wife had a real sense of design and purpose when they decided that they needed to add more farm buildings in the decades after Waterloo.

We barely changed the front of the barn when we renovated Downe. We merely removed a later generation’s concrete add-on to reveal the original structure. Nearly all the openings with their brick surrounds are original.  The stone walls are original.  The slate roofs merely replaced what was their originally.

I think of that farmer and his wife and their sense of design. They built something of simple beauty that nearly two hundred years later people stand and admire.

Now they really do have a reason to be proud.

The Admiralty Map

Hanging on the wall of my home at Downe is an old map.

My father, who has been dead for over thirty years, gave me this map early in my marriage. He had brought it at a house clearance sale as part of a job lot of books and paper decades before he gave the map to me.

The map is a dull beige without much vital imagery (I imagined a bored cartographer filling in details in a dark and smoky tent) and shortly after receiving it I popped in up in the attic with some old books.

Several houses and attics later we purchased Downe.

As we were clearing the attic of our former home some six months after buying Downe, I came across the map rolled up in box of books. I remember pulling the map out of the cardboard box and unrolling it up in the attic and thinking to myself as I did so “It’s a pity the map isn’t of Hartland.”

I also remember the hairs on the back of my neck lifting and my shoulders going cold as I saw in front of me an Admiralty Map published in 1882 of the coast line between Trevose Head and Bull Point i.e. the North Devon and North Cornwall coast line.

Hartland Point is near the middle of the map and is highlighted because of the Light House. And Hartland Point is where Downe is.

It was a very odd moment and the questions came quickly. “How did Dad get the map?”

“Why did he give the map to me?” (I’m one of six children so why me?)
As my teenage daughters used to say, “Spooooky!”

Anyway, that’s why there is a pretty dull vellum map hanging framed in our drawing room.

Did It Myself!

As someone whose attempts to carry out the simplest DIY have long been regarded by Lynda as comic highlights of the week, I get a delicious pleasure when even a simple repair goes well.

Something happened in the Pump Room this morning. I spent an hour or two playing Don Quixote to the windmill, expending energy and emotion, getting nowhere.

A phone call produced the simplest of suggestions: “Have you turned the black valve by the first pump to the off position?”


I left the Pump Room in a state of mild euphoria.

I could conquer Everest.

Or even hang a picture!

Downe never fails to delight.

New lights at Downe

Yesterday we brought some solar lamps to pop into the flower troughs around the cottages.

We do this each year and it helps create a lovely atmosphere in the late evening at Downe. It prompts guests to sit out for that half hour longer in the evening with a glass of wine drinking in the atmosphere.

It is quite magical with the sound of the waterfall in the courtyard and the cloudy half light from solar lamps and the lights on the stone circle.

The lamps were made in China and the boxes were clearly labelled “white solar lights” when we purchased them. The receipt clearly says “white solar lights” and the individual packaging was clearly labelled “white solar lights”.

Last night we discovered that “white” has a different meaning in China.

At about eight p.m. when we went into the office to check our emails we noticed bright colours in the courtyard and wondered what was going on.

We roared with laughter at the pretty red, green and blue lights around the courtyard. It was as though Christmas had returned for Easter.

It was magical in a very different way and for a moment we thought of opening it as “Hartland’s Illuminations” for the season!

Jeremy swears blind that during the night he heard a plane circling with a view to coming into land.

Obviously they will have to go but it was lovely for a evening.
Downe never fails to delight.

01237 441881 | reception@downecottages.com