Talland House No More?

I usually like to plan my blogposts ahead of time. I’m an organised person and like to know what I’m doing, plan my posts, when they’ll be written, what on, &c. &c. HOWEVER, I’ve just read an article on Blogging Woolf (which can be found here) that has made me want to write this impulsive post.

As many of you will know by now, I’m writing my dissertation on Woolf and have grown so passionate about her life and her works. Talland House in St Ives was the family’s holiday home, of which they spent three months of the year in. Living in London, St Ives in Cornwall was a great spot for them to spend the summer months, enjoying the bay, the sea and even Godrevy lighthouse, which inspired Woolf to write one of her most famous novels, To the Lighthouse. Although the novel is set in the Hebrides in Scotland, the detailed descriptions of the house are identical to Talland House and Virginia’s memories whilst growing up there.

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The view of Godrevy lighthouse from Talland House

From this house, which is so important to Woolf’s career and is the epitome of her childhood, the whole of St Ives bay can be seen and also Godrevy lighthouse. But this could all be ruined. The area is “under threat by the proposed construction of a six-story block of six flats and a car park”. This view, which plays a massively important part in literary history, might be wiped out for good.

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As you can see from the above picture, the red line demonstrates the tallest building currently, but it does NOT block the bay. Once these flats go up, anything below the red line will be invisible and so the view from Talland House will become a view of the sky.

A local resident of St Ives, Chris Roberts, has already written to the council, claiming:

It will be an eyesore for one of the few places that is still available to residents of St Ives to be still affordable to live. The building behind is listed* and the view from it was the basis for Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse book.

“The building in front has already damaged this view. People living nearby have to suffer due to the bad road system in the summer, so building works throughout the winter will remove the only bit of calm.”

I cannot believe anyone is genuinely considering ruining this iconic landscape that is so important in the literary culture.

Talland House is still up and running and has been divided into five holiday flats, which accommodate between two and six people each. Two of the first floor flats have balconies overlooking the bay and lighthouse, something you should go and see quickly before it is ruined. Woolf remembers when she revisited the house, having not been back for ten years.

We could fancy that we were but coming home along the high road after some long day’s outing, & that when we reached the gate at Talland House, we should thrust it open, & find ourselves among the familiar sights again…We passed through the gate, groped stealthily but with sure feet up the carriage drive, mounted the little flight of rough steps, & peered through a chink in the escalonia hedge. There was the house, with its two lighted windows; there on the terrace were the stone urns, against the bank of tall flowers; all, so far as we could see was as though we had but left it in the morning. But yet, as we knew well, we could go no further; if we advanced the spell was broken. 


If you are interested in staying at Talland House, the owners can be contacted by email (talland@fsbdial.co.uk) or by phone (01736 769 368) or by post (Talland House, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2EH).

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