Hidden in deepest Cornwall lies a grand manor, blanketed in wisteria and encircled by protective stones, bursting at the seams with tales as bold as the walls that lie within. In our latest chronicle, we speak with property owner Monty Whitebloom about how his eccentric Cornish home acts as a retrospective of the colourful life he has lived.

On a blue-sky April morning I headed to the quiet hamlet of Michaelstow in North Cornwall to meet with perhaps London’s (or, indeed, Soho’s) most charismatic and connected of gents. Greeted with a mug of coffee brewed atop the Aga, Monty explains how he and the family were regular visitors to Cornwall before seeking a base of their own in the county. Captivated by “the character of the house, scale of the rooms and delightful gardens” when they first visited The Artist’s Retreat, after a three-month hunt for the perfect family home. This is a property that sits discreet on approach, majestically overlooking the grounds in which it is ensconced. The characterful listed Georgian manor, which sits opposite the church, was originally built in 1760 and formerly the residence of the local vicar.

Fond of Cornwall and inspired by its rich history of mythology and legend, Monty notes, “we wanted to find a place with a pirate ideal - i.e. there are no rules here” - and they have accomplished this with great success.

To the left, a Cornish farmhouse kitchen with Aga; to the right, a library room with chaise

Inside, each room exudes a clear identity; changing from cornflower blue to poppy red to buttercup yellow, sitting amongst handwoven rugs and patchwork throws. It’s a haven of the weird and wonderful; English Victorian taxidermy, furniture gathered “from Sweden to Soho House”, piles of cherished records, 20,000-and-counting books spanning every genre and intriguing artwork which Monty could speak to you about for hours on end, without your interest waning for even a second.

Outside, the birds and the bees (...and moles, tadpoles, and frogs) roam wild. The heated outdoor pool is paradisiacal come June, the eight acres of camellia-scented grounds for wildlings to run free, and the gooseberry and redcurrant-rich fruit garden for gastronomes to get their fill. 

The Artist's Retreat - garden with swimming pool

A true culture club, you can’t help but want to break away and uncover the magic that is found in every corner at The Artist’s Retreat. In-keeping with the property’s name, Monty lights up when speaking about his carefully-curated collection of treasured artwork and their fascinating back-stories. “I’ve been all over the world. And, so, the artwork is the best example of people I’ve met and places I’ve been to,” he says. “Art speaks to travel and life, and all pieces of art have stories. Each room at The Artist’s Retreat combines pieces from my various adventures.”

Despite his various adventures, Monty now happily spends his time on home soil - dividing his time between London and Cornwall. We don’t explore our own streets enough,” he says. “We, as a nation forget about how many beautiful, undiscovered places there are in the UK. When we acquired the house, half of the adventure was discovering those little known, off-the-beaten-track coves and woodland walks that you have the time to unearth when you’re at leisure to explore.”

When thinking about his “dream day” to spend in his Cornish home, he says emphatically “Well, it depends on the weather, of course!” And those familiar with Cornwall’s famous mizzle will relate all too well. “It would be coffee and songbird in the morning, a cooked breakfast on the Aga, a swim or surf at the beach (depending on the tide) or a walk on the moors. Then a pub lunch, back home to lounge around the pool with Provençal rosé, and to dance to my records with friends.” 

To the left, is a study with writing desk. To the right, a large dining table and outdoor bistro set

Looking around this one-of-a-kind home, available to rent exclusively with Unique Homestays, there’s a relaxed and laid-back essence to The Artist’s Retreat that has you immediately slipping into holiday mode. With sprawling living spaces that lend themselves to sociability, there’s also space to enjoy peaceful moments if it’s time to yourself that you crave. And the manicured lawn comes into its own come summer; ripe for games of croquet, sun-lounging with a book, and picnics of Pimm’s and trifle. “When the house is full of activity and noise, it’s when it’s at its best”, he finishes. “There truly is no better place.” 

Eccentrics, here you will meet your match. Book your stay at The Artist’s Retreat