Inside 18th century 16-sided house with quirky interior frozen in time

Inside 18th century 16-sided house with quirky interior frozen in time

A 16-sided house with centuries of history looks as if it has been frozen in time thanks to the protection of the National Trust.

The house, named A La Ronde, was built in Exmouth in the 1790s by cousins Mary and Jane Parminter.

The construction and interior of the rural retreat was inspired by the pair’s travels around the globe reported Devon Live.

From their gallery made of shells to a room with a hand-crafted feather frieze border, Mary and Jane made sure to decorate their home using souvenirs from every place they visited.

And thanks to the National Trust their hard work has been protected.

Usually from March to October A La Ronde is open to the public but like all National Trust properties it has been closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Now, a one-way route around the meadow, as well as the grounds, the picnic area and toilets are open, but you must book timed-entry tickets to do so.

A La Ronde on the other hand remains closed.

A National Trust spokesperson said: “I can confirm that the house is not yet open. The grounds are open and there is a one way route around the meadow. Visitors need to book via the website, by 3pm the day before they plan visit. The website will be kept up to date with any changes.”

The house was divided into a series of square and rectangle rooms, but due to its hexadecagonal shape there were a number of wedge-shaped waiting rooms between them to fill the space.

As the pair were deeply religious, and the church they visited was a boat-journey away, they decided to build their own on-conformist chapel on the estate which they called Point In View, which was large enough to hold 10-15 people.

Beside it were several almshouses which provided a home for Jewesses who had converted to Christianity.

Jane and Mary also created a school room, and planted a number of oak trees around the property, which they hoped would be used to build ships and eventually transport their converts around the world.

Their home was decorated with trinkets, keepsakes and other crafty items which marked their love for artistry and design.

The endearing story of the 16-sided spectacle began in 1784 after Jane’s father, who was a wealthy Devon wine merchant, died.

After helping rebuild Lisbon following the devastating earthquake in 1755 he was rewarded by the Portuguese royal family with a glass factory, which allowed him to expand his business and import bottled wine into England.

Three months after he passed, Jane went travelling to France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and possibly Spain and Portugal, with her sister Elizabeth, cousin Mary and friend Miss Colville before returning to England.

After spending years putting their all into their pride and joy, Jane died in 1811 and was buried in the chapel there, as was Mary in 1849.

Mary’s will had two principal aims: to preserve A la Ronde and its contents intact, and to allow only unmarried female relatives to inherit.

In the 1930s the house was passed to two sisters Stella and Margaret Tudor, who, since they had no money opened the house to the public.

In 1963 the pair considered putting the market, raising it by £20,000 but they were advised against it by their friend John Betjeman who said that the house was only worth in the regions of £6,000 to £7,000.

After they died, the house came into ownership of Ursula Tudor Perkins who eventually sold it for £750,000 to the National Trust in 1991.

Nearly a million pounds and 10 years later the property has been returned to its former glory.

It was re-roofed, rooms were repainted in colours which were in keeping with those of the 19th century and new accommodation for staff as well as visitor facilities were put in place.

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