Tagged as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the quaint village of Bantham, England, is tucked away deep in the Devon countryside with no signposts pointing toward it. Quietly situated on the idyllic coast of South Devon, with a few Roman ruins but no such thing as a mobile phone signal, it appears to be stuck in the past. However, there’s a very modern twist to Bantham’s developing story.
A 21st century jolt
Some of the residents, fewer than 200 in number, may be drowning their sorrows beside the wood burning fireplace at The Sloop Inn, Bantham’s one and only 14th century village inn and pub. Rather shockingly, Bantham beach, its dunes and its one-street village — the entire 750 acres — is up for sale for offers in excess of £11.5 million, or about $20 million. Included are a golf course, an oyster farm, boathouse and 21 residential 17th century thatched roof cottages leased to residents. Like many English pubs, the Sloop Inn is owned by a brewery, St. Austell’s in this case, and is not included in the parcel.
A century of family ownership
Nearly a century ago, the charming seaside village caught the eye of Lt. Commander Charles Evans. He purchased the land and everything on it in 1919, creating Evans Estate as overseer. Following the November 2013 death of Evans’ granddaughter, Gillian Goddard, local estate agents announced the sale of the village under the terms of Goddard’s will, according to The Telegraph. Calling it a “steep asking price,” The Independent, the BBC and other national news agencies are reporting widely on interest from potential international buyers. Some are said to be thinking, perhaps wishfully, that there could be interest from Britain’s own National Trust, a membership-based preservation society.
A disagreement about the beach
In March 2014, the BBC reported that Ms. Goddard’s widower explained the decision to sell was due to her upset over a disagreement with some of the local residents. Complaints arose over an unwanted “commercialization” following Evans Estate’s decision three years ago to allow a surfing school and a gourmet burger food truck to set up on the beach during summer in an effort to assist with the running costs of the estate’s assets. According to the BBC report based on conversation with Tony Goddard, his wife subsequently changed the terms of her will, previously intending to leave several million in trust for the estate’s operational account.
His lordship title included
“The buyer will become Lord of Bigbury,” named for the town on the other side of the River Avon’s estuary, indicates both The Telegraph and the listing estate agent Strutt and Parker in the property portfolio. No doubt, buyers who can and would pay a pretty penny for an instant English nobleman’s title will be attracted to this aspect of the deal. James Baker, lead agent from Strutt and Parker tells the newspaper that the remaining directors of Evans Estate will interview the prospective buyer to assure that their interests align with those of the residents. One of them, Barbara Tucker, is quoted as saying, ” “We want someone lovely, because Bantham is lovely. If you are lovely and you have £11.5 million in your pocket, then please come down – we would love to see you!”