Next generation to take over historic house the Sands, at Sidmouth

Stella, Stephen, Caroline and Diana in the garden at Sand. Picture: Contributed

Stella, Stephen, Caroline and Diana in the garden at Sand. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

One of Sidmouth’s most historic houses, which has been in the ownership of the same family for nearly half a millennia, will soon be taken over by the next generation.

The Sand, at the bottom end of the Roncombe valley, has been ran by the Huyshe family for over 450 years.

Over the last 20 or so years Stella and Stephen Huyshe-Shires have been resident custodians of the house since the deaths of Stella’s parents.

Her brother Roger had asked them to take on this role on his behalf but, following his unexpected death last November, Stella and Stephen have decided to hand the reigns over to his two daughters.

Stella said: “Roger’s death was a shock for us all but we are immensely pleased that Caroline and Diana are able and willing to move to Sand, with all the lifestyle and job changes that will mean for them.”

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House openings will continue as will the Christmas tree sales, with Caroline and Diana starting to learn the different growing requirements of the orange smelling Grand Fir and the traditional Norway Spruce.

But it’s not just how to do a house tour, or which seedling trees to buy.

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Stephen said: “Like many Devon houses, we have no mains water supply and no mains drainage, so they need to know how to maintain a private water supply, a septic tank and associated pipes and drainage. There is also the historic structure and understanding damp, draughts and special mortar.

“Old houses can be a challenge, and the larger they are, the more challenging they become.”

Stella added that it might seem nice from a distance to have a dining room 33 feet long, but it took some heating. She said: “You have to choose between tossing £50 notes into the boiler and managing a large woodpile to keep the woodburners going.”

After the last house opening on the August bank holiday there will be a gradual handover. Stephen said: “We gave up gainful employment some years ago. Now we look forward to finally being able to retire.”

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