Charity selling £15.7m Cornish hamlet defend sale

Trevalga still
Trevalga Credit: ITV News

A trustee of a charity which is selling a £15.75 million north Cornish hamlet has been defending the reasons for the sale.

Tenants on the 1199 acre estate at Trevalga launched a 'Battle for Trevalga' campaign against the sale in August, fearing they could be evicted from their rented homes.

Trustees of the Gerald Curgenven Will Trust say they no longer have the funds to fully look after the estate.

79 old John Wakeham, a trustee of the Gerald Curgenven Will Trust for over four decades, says “a battle presumes a winner, but what does a win look like?” 

In a letter sent to tenants of the Trevalga Manor Estate, which includes the manor house, 6 farms and 16 homes, Mr Wakeham said: “It has been nearly 12 weeks since my meeting with Trevalga’s tenants in the village hall at Boscastle where my co-trustee Rebecca Perry and I, explained in detail why the time has come for the Trevalga Manor Estate to be sold, and our intention to sell it in its entirety to provide the best chance of protecting the existing tenancies and the character of the estate.''

Trustee John Wakeham Credit: ITV News

The trustees, Mr Wakeham, a retired auctioneer and land agent, Rebecca Perry, a commercial artist and hotelier, and Mark Bromell, a chartered surveyor, say they have a legal duty to pay Marlborough College the proceeds from the full market rents raised from all residential and farm tenancies on the estate. The trustees are also responsible for protecting the capital value of the estate.

Mr Wakeham explained: “These old Cornish properties not only require an increasing level of repair, but also material improvements to meet today’s expectations. The only money available to the trustees is rental income, and Marlborough College as a registered charity itself requires its correct share of that income.''

He continued: “Any improvements, or modernisation, of the properties cannot come from rental income and must come from borrowing or liquidating an asset, namely selling part of the estate. By selling individual properties we would begin the break-up of the estate, damaging value in this rare and integrated coastal mix of unspoilt property.”

Serena Partrick Credit: ITV News

Trevalga resident and campaigner Serena Partrick told ITV News that she, and other tenants feel the estate isn't being marketed to attract a 'benevolent' buyer that might continue to rent the properties to local people.

She said ''We stayed quiet for 4 or 5 weeks and the first advert came out in Farmers Weekly. There was no request to keep people in their homes, the Assured Shorthold tenancies were highlighted, and Trevalga was suggested for amenities, leisure, redevelopment and the establishment of a shoot. Our worst fear is that this precious piece of Cornwall that we all love and that so many people love will be unrecognisable in 10 years time.''

The Battle for Trevalga campaign group is now holding a fun day in Trevalga on 17th September from 4-9pm to raise funds towards legal advice.

Gerald Curgenven died on January 10th 1959 leaving in his will trust the income from the market rent of homes and farms on the Trevalga Manor Estate to Marlborough College. He also expressed his wish that the estate would not be broken-up. The Gerald Curgenven Will Trust was later registered with the Charity Commission in 2012.

Louise Moelwyn-Hughes, the Master of Marlborough College said: “The College has already committed to placing the entire proceeds it receives from the sale into a bursary fund for gifted pupils from Cornwall to attend Marlborough College. In this way we can honour the memory and wishes of Gerald Curgenven.”  

A smaller share will be available to distribute for charitable purposes at the discretion of the trustees.

Mr Wakeham added: “Surely, a win for all concerned is the sale of the estate, to a purchaser who holds similar ambitions to those of Gerald Curgenven.”