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Famous otter creator's home for sale

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 13, 2014

By JEFF WELLS

  • This is the idyllic North Devon home, near Georgeham, that the author of Tarka The Otter Henry Williamson had built for just £125 in the 1970s amd is now up for sale for £900,000 PICTURE: SWNS

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The idyllic home that the author of Tarka The Otter had built on land he bought for just £125 is up for sale for £900,000.

Writer Henry Williamson built a magnificent five-bed manor house on 1.5 acres of land he bought after winning a literature competition for his best-selling book, published in 1927.

The esteemed author spent most of his life living in a tiny writing hut in the sprawling grounds of Ox's Cross, near Braunton, North Devon.

But he spent his final years in the manor house which boasts stunning views of Exmoor, Dartmoor and the sea. The whole rural estate – complete with vegetable plots, greenhouses and ponds – has been put on the market for £900,000.

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Colin Thorne, manager at estate agents Webber's Fine and Country, said: "How the house came about is a lovely little story. Henry Williamson had various traumas through the First World War and came back with an idea generated during the war – the need to find peace and solitude and tranquillity. He wanted somewhere to go where quietness would inspire and give then the chance to work. He found this land and the farmer wanted £125. He only had £25. But he published Tarka The Otter and won £100 in the Hawthornden Prize. He had the money he needed."

Williamson first built a writing hut on a now-separate piece of land near the home in 1929, which sold for more then £125,000 at auction in May.

But in the mid 1970s he built the main Ox's Cross home, designed in beautiful 1950's Arts and Crafts Movement style, where he lived until he died in 1977.

Colin added: "It really is spookily therapeutic. The grounds are just idyllic, with views of Exmoor and Dartmoor on a clear day, and in the winter when the leaves aren't on the trees you can see the sea."

Ox's Cross sits high above the popular North Devon village of Georgeham, with views across to the Estuary of the Taw and Torridge – the two rivers where Tarka lived.

The land is divided into a formal garden, a large vegetable garden, mature trees and a fenced paddock which is currently home to goats. The main house has four bedrooms plus an attic room, a study, a principal sitting room with a galleried landing, a feature Minster style fireplace with wood burning stove, and a staircase with carvings of Henry Williamson's best loved characters.

Downstairs there is a snug with a wood burner, a south facing dining room overlooking the garden and a kitchen with an Aga. The house has only had two other owners since Henry Williamson died in 1977 – one of which ran the property as a tea garden.

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