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13 bedroom equestrian facility for sale

Cape Cornwall, St. Just, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19

Sold STC £2,750,000

Property Description

Key features

  • 3 reception rooms
  • 10 bedrooms
  • Awe-inspiring sea and coastal views
  • Geo-thermal heat pumps and underfloor heating
  • 3 bedroom apartment
  • 3 paddocks and school
  • Walled garden, garaging and stable block
  • Grade II Listed
  • 11,660 sq ft

Full description

Tenure: Freehold

Magnificent coastal house built for Captain Francis Oats, former chairman of De Beers.


Porthledden occupies a truly magnificent position above England's only Cape, and possesses some of the most fascinating, spectacular, sea and coastal views in the south west of England. The quite incredible vista takes in the western approaches and Atlantic Ocean with the beautiful Isles of Scilly on the horizon.

To one side of the Cape lies Priest's Cove; a traditional fishing cove with colourful lobster boats and a slipway. Priest's Cove is wonderful to swim off and there is a large manmade salt water pool. On the other side of the Cape you'll find Porthledden Bay; a wide rocky bay with plenty of rock pools to explore and good swells for the very experienced surfer. The South West Coast Path, managed by the National Trust, borders Porthledden's grounds and the coastline is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and more recently a World Heritage Site. The coast path runs west towards Cot Valley and on to two of Cornwall's finest surfing beaches; Gwenver and Sennen. Each can be reached within a short drive. Travelling east the coast path takes you across Kenidjack Valley towards Botallack and Geevor Tin Mines and the iconic Crowns; two engine houses that perilously hug the cliff.

The town of St Just is precisely 1 mile inland along Cape Cornwall Road; there are also green public footpaths (across fields and stone styles) providing an attractive walk to the town. St Just has a good sense of community and of its Cornish heritage; both mining and in more recent years, its artistic community. St Just provides just about everything one might need with food stores, a greengrocer, a bakery (the oldest Cornish pasty maker in the World), two butchers, two cafes, a Post Office, surgery and pharmacy, homemade takeaway Pizzeria, a fish and chip shop, four pubs (three of which serve food) and two art galleries.

The St Just to St Ives road is one of the finest drives in Britain. With spectacular sweeping views down to the sea, ancient field structures, granite engine houses, rugged moorland and fascinating villages along the route such as Zennor. Half-way to St Ives you'll pass the award winning Gurnards Head Inn. Indeed West Penwith is noted for its seafood and other fine restaurants including Ben's Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, the Old Coastguard in Mousehole and The Beach Restaurant at Sennen Cove. St Ives itself offers a multitude of good restaurants including the Porthminster Beach restaurant, Porthmeor Café and Seagrass alongwith wonderful galleries including the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Famously referred to as "The loveliest village in England" by Dylan Thomas, Mousehole is a short drive away, where pretty stone cottages, two fine restaurants, the famous Ship Inn and art galleries are clustered around the sandy beaches of the small medieval harbour. The harbour-side town of Penzance offers a cinema, theatre, organic shops, supermarkets and a mainline railway station whilst Chapel Street is famous for its galleries and historic Georgian architecture. To the south of Porthledden, the open air Minack Theatre, positioned high above the incredible Porthcurno beach, attracts visitors from far and wide, as does the surfing centre of Sennen with its vast stretch of sand and pounding Atlantic surf.

Communications to Cornwall are mostly dual carriageway with the A30 from the M5 at Exeter to Penzance. The London Paddington - Penzance mainline ends overlooking Mount's Bay just yards from the sea. Its sleeper service departs Penzance late in the evening, pulling in at Paddington at 5.30am. Nearby Land's End airport benefitted in the summer of 2014 with the development of two tarmac runways, while Newquay airport offers daily flights to London Gatwick. It is worth noting that the present owners run a successful internet company with offices in London and Truro, from their home at Cape Cornwall.


Porthledden was built by Francis Oats; a local mining captain by the age of 20 and later Chairman of De Beers and close ally of Cecil Rhodes in South Africa. Francis was brought up in St Just and Cape Cornwall; later held a significant shareholding in Levant, Cape Cornwall and Kenidjack mines but made his real fortune in the gold fields and diamond mines of South Africa at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Francis championed the welfare of the Cornish miners who followed him in their droves to South Africa. He ensured De Beers paid for a home visit for each ex-pat miner every year and pushed through the introduction of water hydrants to suppress the silicon dust produced by the heavy mining drills which was the main cause of miners' lung or Silicosis.

Francis bought the Cape and built Porthledden from the rewards he received from his company directorships and leading role in South African mining. Porthledden was completed in 1909 and Captain Francis Oats died in the care of his daughter in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1918.

Since Francis Oats built Porthledden as a gentleman's residence, the house has been a hotel in the 1920s and 1930s - with a pioneering landing strip where part of the Golf Club now lies. It has also been a gentleman's club, an evacuee school for girls during WW2 and a wedding venue. It lay empty for over twenty years until 2003 when a Grade II Listing, lobbied for by many people in St Just and Cape Cornwall, helped to provoke its sale and the subsequent start of an extensive 10 year restoration program.

This painstaking and meticulous restoration of Porthledden began in 2004 after the present owner's purchase of the house. The then 21 bedroom mansion was stripped back to its granite shell with the roof, all 200 windows, lintels and internal surfaces removed. It was then put back together by local Cornish and South West craftsmen but with a few modifications which left the house with 13 larger bedrooms, most with en suite bathrooms and other larger room spaces such as the strikingly spacious kitchen/dining area.

Taking careful account of the stunning coastal location, and under the direction of the architectural team who look after the Duchy properties in West Cornwall, the restoration was professionally approached as a marine project. For example, the only new metals permitted in the reconstruction were non-ferrous such as bronze for the window casements and door furniture and marine grade stainless steel for all fixings. All of the new granite used for flooring, walls and the terraces is from the same source as the original stone; Cornish silver grey granite from De Lank quarry in Bodmin Moor. Francis Oats sourced the distinctive roofing slate from Cumbria. Much of Porthledden's slate had to be replaced but very fortunately the property's blue-green Westmoreland slate is still quarried today in the Lake District.

The main house is entered through an inner and outer entrance hall into a magnificent 24ft square reception hall panelled in English oak with a central staircase to the first floor, and door to the west-facing terrace. From this impressive hall, there are three main reception rooms, including the 'Elizabethan' drawing room with its ornate plaster work ceiling, and a fabulous 38ft family kitchen. All of these rooms have open fireplaces and sea views taking in the Brisons rocks. The kitchen was designed by Christian Paul and handmade in quarter sawn oak by Rozen, and includes an electric four-oven AGA with worktops in granite and oak. There is a useful utility room off the kitchen which in turn opens into the inner courtyard. Also off the kitchen is a large conservatory/plant room.

On the first floor, a huge landing enjoys wonderful views through the oriel window down over the Cape, the Isles of Scilly on a fine day and out to sea. Two principal west-facing bedrooms have private exquisite bathrooms, with three children's bedrooms sharing a huge bathroom, again beautifully appointed with great taste and style. There is a useful laundry room on this level. There are five further bedrooms and four luxury bathrooms on the second floor, with a door out to a flagstaff balcony with marine stainless steel flagpole.

Accessed separately but also with a link in to the main house, the three bedroom apartment is a spacious and very well appointed residence in its own right. A large kitchen - again by Christian Paul and Rozen has an open vaulted ceiling with exposed A-frames, an AGA Rangemaster, black granite worktops and oak-topped island unit. A well planned utility room separates the kitchen-dining room from the twin aspect sitting room which enjoys wonderful views of the Cape, out to sea and also over the walled garden. There are two bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor, with a beautiful master suite on the first floor, with its own luxury bathroom with separate shower.

A broad terrace spans the width of the house on the west elevation and leads to the large, sheltered walled garden to the north. This is laid mainly to lawn, but includes a kitchen garden with raised beds, a potting shed using the same stone and slate as the main house and a clever sunken children's trampoline. From here an archway has been created leading out into the west paddock, which rolls down towards the Cape and sea with a pathway through the walled garden framing the fantastic vista.

As if the magnificent house and sea views weren't enough, almost unheard of for a seaside house in the west country of England, Porthledden has superb equestrian facilities. A stable block houses four loose boxes, a barn area and a tack room, whilst there are three paddocks and a school. Additionally there is a deep triple width garage with three large hardwood sliding doors to the front. The stable and garage block is built to the same exacting standard as the house using the same materials and could easily be adapted for an alternative purpose. In all, the land including gardens, lawns and three paddocks, extends to 7.2 acres.

Mains water, electricity and drainage. Two ground source heat pumps with under floor heating in the majority of rooms supplemented by over 50 fully restored floor-standing period radiators fitted with superb British brass valves. Central sound and multi-media system in all reception rooms and bedrooms with hard wired Cat 5 internet cabling, in-ceiling speakers, Wi-fi and Bluetooth compatibility. There is extensive spot-lighting throughout the property which can be dimmed at will with the use of the sympathetically designed resistive action toggle switches.

Square Footage: 11,660 sq ft
Acreage: 7.2 Acres


From St Just, follow the road to Cape Cornwall. Continue past the school and follow the road towards the sea. The gated entrance to Porthledden will be found on the right hand side just after Cape Cornwall Golf Club and shortly before the road drops down towards the cove and Cape itself.

More information from this agent

Listing History

Added on Rightmove:
16 February 2015


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