by Helen Hayes
In this edition of Meet the Owners, we are heading to Chudleigh to speak with the owners of a delightful country cottage.
Nick and Rachel Hurrell have recently started holiday letting their beautiful farm cottage in Devon this year and they started off with a challenge on their hands! As their property went live on our website, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Covid-19 lockdown, throwing self-catering cottage holidays into turmoil. On the 4th July, lockdown was lifted and they quickly recovered the lost time, going onto achieve 12 weekly bookings in quick succession as well as bookings for 2021. This is a true indication of the quality this fabulous property has to offer.
With a season full of bookings ahead, I was lucky to catch up with Rachel to find out more about the cottage and their love of all things to do with conservation.
The Hurrells moved into Ruggadon, a 15th Century farmhouse and cottage just over four and a half years ago. They were looking for somewhere that had good communications with the outside world but also with much needed privacy. Rachel explained; “We found a small oasis of 30 acres that surrounds the house, which is close to the eastern fringes of the Dartmoor National Park.
The previous owner just like us had been very keen on conservation and had looked after the wildlife but the inside of the farmhouse and cottage needed a lot of updating. We set to work and finally finished renovating the cottage last year with the view to start letting in the spring. We signed up with Helpful Holidays and went live as lockdown was announced!” she said. The cottage has a lovely open plan living space and a fabulous kitchen with marble style worktops, sleeping four (maximum 3 adults) in two elegant bedrooms, a master double with a kingsize bed and a twin room and a shared bathroom, all with lovely countryside views.
With conservation playing such a big part in how they live their lives, I asked Rachel how they went about creating and maintaining the grounds surrounding the cottage. Rachel enthused; “We were incredibly lucky that the farm came with a wildflower meadow. During the dig for victory campaign during the war, 97% of meadows were ploughed up for food and never put back. They are incredibly important habitats and support a myriad of insects which in turn support small animals and birds. Wildflower meadows only thrive when the grassland has been unimproved – so it is important that there are no fertilizer’s or chemicals anywhere on the farm. It is also important not to cut too early – the seed has to have set in order for it all to germinate next year. It is at it’s best from April – July.
The Teign valley is one of the last spots in the country where lesser and greater horseshoe bats still hang on in any significant numbers. They are now incredibly rare but we are lucky that you can see them from afar flitting about at dusk. Bats, I think, are misunderstood and maligned animals but they are a sign that things are working. They can’t survive without insects – they can eat 3000 a night. We hope that people coming to stay in the cottage will enjoy what we are trying to do and the peace surrounding the farm. Anyone who stays here is welcome to walk round the fields and enjoy the beautiful views and wildlife”.
Knowing how much time and energy the couple have spent on the grounds, I was intrigued to hear about their inspirations for the renovation of the cottage. After some research they discovered that the buildings were started in the mid 15th to mid 16th centuries. The barn that is attached to the cottage would have originally been a threshing barn. Sometime in the late 19th century they began to make cider and the large press in the barn was installed. The cottage was the pound house, where the apples would have come into the building and been stored and crushed before going to the press. Within the cottage they have managed to perverse and maintain the workings of the cider press and made them into a feature.
Rachel described; “If you walk up to the top field you will still see some of the old apple trees some of which are over 100 years old and still bearing fruit. Orchards are another incredible habitat and it is our intention to start replanting fruit trees to rejuvenate the site. Planting starts this winter.”
Whilst you may choose to just hunker down and enjoy the peace and quiet of Ruggadon, once you arrive there is still a huge amount to do and see in the area. For those wanting to go out and explore there are many choices from the wonderful Exeter Cathedral to the great beaches on the South Devonshire coast, it will keep you busy all week. There are attractions for the children and historical houses in the bucket load to visit all within a short drive. For a quick day out you can hop over the border into Cornwall and maybe even visit the Eden Project.
When speaking to the many owners of the properties we pride on our website, it is always nice to hear why they choose to work with us. Rachel explained their decision; “We have rented a house before but it came with frustrations. When I mentioned the problems we were having to a friend, they recommended Helpful Holidays, so when we came to renting the cottage I went straight to them. My friend was right – it has all been incredibly straightforward and the staff have been lovely to deal with.”
And here I left Rachel, tending to the gardens in readiness for the Autumn. If you would like to find out more and book Ruggadon Farm cottage take a look at the full property description here. https://www.helpfulholidays.co.uk/cottage/Devon-Ruggadon/Ruggadon-Farm-Cottage-1043280.html
Check out more of our Meet the owners posts on our blog.
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