This November we welcomed some very special guests to the Boconnoc Estate.
Over 80 years ago, Mr Peter Brown and his family lived in what is now our beautiful Dairy House. Peter and his family joined us at the Dairy House for a cup of tea and a slice of cake to share his memories of the property and times gone by.
Peter remembers living in the Dairy House when he was a young boy in the 1940s, and although the building has since been renovated to allow for guests to stay, many of the original features remain. He points out where the stairs in the front room of the house used to be, and he can vividly remember the layout of the property when his family lived there. Peter,(who has a remarkably sharp memory at 86 years old)recalls the comings and goings of the working dairy. “Dairy maids would be in the pantry pressing butter into blocks using huge paddles. The farm hands who worked on the estate would carry the churns of Guernsey milk that they had milked by hand, across the fields to the dairy using wooden frames on their backs. It was very hard work.” He remembers local people queuing up outside the dairy house to collect their milk in glass bottles, all ‘straight from the cow’, not like nowadays." Coming from a family of carpenters, Peter and his father worked on the estate fixing the doors, windows and cutting glass for Boconnoc House, he also used to adjust all the clocks in Boconnoc House to Daylight Saving hours.
Peter kindly gave us a fascinating list he had written of all the staff on the estate in the 1950s, this included;
2/3 Office Staff- Lostwithiel Office , 1 steward, 1 Clerk of the works, 3 Carpenters, 1 apprentice 2 Masons, 1 apprentice, 2 Masons labourers, 1 painter, 2 Sawmill workers, 1 Chauffeur/van driver, 3 Gardeners, 1 Gamekeeper
Wood staff; 5 wood workers
Home Farm and Roselyon staff; 1 farm bailiff, 8 workers
For a time during the Second World War, Boconnoc Estate was commandeered by American troops, Peter recalls hearing the sound of the metal dishes being washed in the catering tent that had been erected for the troops in the grounds.
‘During the Second World War, Cornwall provided accommodation for both troops and storage facilities prior to the invasion of mainland Europe. Commanded by Major Gen Charles H Gerhardt, the 29th UD division was stationed in camps between Falmouth and Plymouth, before their embarkation to Omaha Beach during the D- Day landings. The camps, providing tents for the troops and areas where equipment could be stored, were situated in wooded areas near small roads in the country. The Boconnoc Estate, having many paved roads and extensive woodland, was a prime site for munitions to be deposited and was requisitioned by the Americans. Ammunition dumps and tanks were scattered across the estate. Boconnoc House was occupied by several American units, while the troops were camped in the park. David Chapman, an estate worker, recalled that the Americans were popular with the children and that the troops sometimes went swimming in the Bath House pool. Chapman remembered the airplane that crashed at Boconnoc.
“A German airplane landed in the wood near the school. My father (who worked for many years on the estate with the horses) took me to see it- we didn’t get too close. We could see the plane burning. We could see the tail of the plane was on fire as it was flying. It was not high enough for the crew to eject.” *
* Excerpt from the book ‘Boconnoc- the History of a Cornish Estate’ written by Catherine Lorigan.
As a four-year-old child, Peter also remembers the German aeroplane crashing in the grounds of the estate.
“I was in my bedroom upstairs and I remember looking out of the window and seeing an aeroplane on fire heading straight towards the house. It was a shocking thing to see as a young child.”
The Dairy House today
Fast forward to today and the Dairy House still has the charm and character of its past but has been lovingly transformed into a unique property that sleeps up to 8 guests. With interior design by the hugely talented Sarah Fortescue, the Dairy has been brought back to life for guests to enjoy for years to come.
We’ve loved hearing about the time Peter spent living here in the Dairy as a child and we’d love to hear from anyone who has memories of Boconnoc’s past. If only the walls had ears…
Sleeps 8 | 4 Bedrooms | Dogs welcome | From £821 for a short break