You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Tenants of Trevalga fear eviction as £16m village goes up for sale in Cornwall

Cornwall Live logo Cornwall Live 17/08/2022 Lisa Letcher

"I know I am lucky to live where I do. I know this is a privilege. But we do not drive fancy cars, or have expensive clothes. We cannot afford to send our children to public schools, or even buy the houses we live in. But why must you have money to live somewhere beautiful?"

Those are the heartfelt words of one Cornish woman, Serena Partrick, who will fight for the right to stay where she has lived all her life. A fierce battle is ongoing for the second time in recent history at Trevalga, a tiny hamlet and estate nestled between Boscatle and Tintagel, where at least twelve households fear eviction.

The tenanted estate of Trevalga was placed in a will trust more than 60 years ago when Mr Curgenven, owner of the estate until his death in 1959, left the hamlet in trust to Marlborough College. The trust was created so the estate could be preserved and improved 'and as far as possible not sold or broken up'.

Read more: The terrifying flood that ravaged a Cornish village in 2004

It consists of six let farms and 17 further houses and cottages, some of which are vacant, together with a range of miscellaneous property including barns with planning potential. The chapel was sold privately some years ago.

Previously, in 2010, the college tried to sell the estate after receiving legal advice that the trust was invalid because it did not have an end date or ultimate beneficiary. The sale was halted after residents received their own legal advice suggesting the college's position was wrong.

The trust was then formally registered with the Charity Commission as the Gerald Curgenven Will Trust. It has since been run by three trustees and tenants believed the estate was safe from any future sale until now.

Residents are fighting to stop the sale of the estate - which was gifted in a will © Battle for Trevalga Residents are fighting to stop the sale of the estate - which was gifted in a will

Tenants of the 1,200-acre estate had their worlds turned upside down on June 24, when they received a letter saying that it would be put on the market, with a guide price of £15,750,000. The tenants kept quiet initially, believing their tenancies would stand with a new owner after being told the sale was "inevitable".

When the listing for the estate finally appeared, however, there was no mention of keeping the shorthold tenants in their homes, some of which are families who have lived there for generations. They began to fear the possibility of a no fault eviction if the estate entered the wrong hands. The listing describes the estate as "a remarkable, private ring-fenced estate on the north coast of Cornwall with varied income streams and a myriad of leisure, amenity and redevelopment opportunities."

The last Lord of Trevalga Manor, Gerald Curgenven, died in 1959 © Battle for Trevalga The last Lord of Trevalga Manor, Gerald Curgenven, died in 1959

Serena Partrick, Trevalga resident and chief campaigner, has been leading protest efforts. She said: "There are so many questions that need answering, and we have so little time, money or power. They hold all the cards, and people in the village are terrified of what is to come. As am I. For my sister, my nephews, my community, me.

"Many people these days talk of the death of God leaving a vacuum in modern life, but what about the loss of community? Modern families are dispersed all over the world, where people used to share a street with them for their whole lives. People barely know their neighbours.

"I have known the majority of people in Trevalga from before I could talk. They are as familiar as the sky, and just as comforting. This is my home. This is our home. And I will do whatever I must to protect it."

Signs adorn the streets of Trevalga where villagers fear for the future © Battle for Trevalga Signs adorn the streets of Trevalga where villagers fear for the future

A spokesman for Marlborough College has explained that the sale is being handled by the trustees, who are liaising with Savills, and says that it is nothing to do with the college.

A Savills spokesperson said: 'The sale is subject to all existing tenancies with the security of tenants remaining unchanged. The trustees have explored thoroughly the future of the estate within the trust structure that binds them and have concluded it is time for there to be a new owner not so constrained."

A petition has been launched by residents fighting to have the sale reflect the true intentions of the late Gerald Curgenven, who left the estate to the college as he had no children or heirs. The petition can be viewed and signed here.

Savills says the security of tenants will not change - but many are at risk of no fault evictions © Battle for Trevalga Savills says the security of tenants will not change - but many are at risk of no fault evictions

It reads: "There are no second homes in Trevalga, no holiday cottages, no properties emptied of tenants to establish Airbnbs. Few Cornish villages can say the same. However, in more recent years the trustees started to use short hold tenancies and now many people in Trevalga are vulnerable to eviction should the sale go ahead.

"We are a thriving, diverse, rural community, and this sale will devastate us. It is incredible that the trustees would do this during a national housing crisis, with over 21,000 people in Cornwall on our housing waiting list."

Read next:

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Cornwall Live

Cornwall Live
Cornwall Live
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon