The Cornish house of artist John Miller for sale
12:15 16 May 2022
The former home of artist John Miller and the landscape in which it sits are both creative and steeped in history. It is also currently on sale.
It’s easy to see why the artists loved this house, situated on the beach at the head of the Hayle Estuary, it’s overlooked by big skies, huge bodies of water and open sandy beaches.
Views like this, spanning the estuary and St Ives Bay, with its golden sands and azure seas, are now an iconic image of Cornwall. And that’s largely thanks to the artist John Miller, who lived in this house.
John was already an established painter by the time he moved to Ferryman’s Rest in the 1990s and would take early morning walks along Porthkidney beach just below the house, inspired to paint by light and landscape which opened before him.
His idyllic Cornish beach scenes, with their glowing beaches and deep blue skies, have been exhibited everywhere and have a global audience; they are synonymous with the county and have influenced contemporary Cornish art.
Ferryman’s Rest is now for sale, and its creative legacy has endured for quite some time, according to current owner Nicola Cannon Brookes.
Nicola and her husband bought the house in 2006 from artist couple Janet Lynch and Ian Brown. She says at the time she remembers the signs of creativity, the paint, the palettes and the smell of oil paint, but she had no idea of the connection to the late John Miller at Penzance in 2002.
This happened thanks to bits of information gleaned from the ‘walking community’ who passed the house on their way to the beach.
The New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives was very helpful, she says, and she eventually made contact with John’s partner, potter Michael Truscott, who lived with him at Ferryman’s. “I never got to speak to John Miller, but Michael was such a lovely man.”
Inspired by this heritage, Nicola invited artist Alan Kingwell to spend time at the house as “artist in residence”. His paintings hang on the walls today, a reminder of the painters who once lived and were inspired by the house.
The house, located under the old St Uny church and with the beach below, was the scene of many happy family memories, says Nicola. Just looking at the water is enough to spend several hours, she says.
‘We never get bored. There are always fishing boats going out, rowers training and in recent years we have had the stand up paddle boards. It is also a very large area for kitesurfers. On a windy day, you’ll get 20-30.
It turns out that Ferryman’s has even more famous connections. Writer Ruth Aspinall was a former landlord, and Lelant-born writer Rosamunde Pilcher was married at St Uny’s Church and apparently loved the walk from there to the beach past the house.
The house and the area have a special atmosphere, says Nicola, who is passionate about protecting the beloved Rosamunde trail.
The path is now part of the St Michael’s Way, part of the medieval pilgrimage route taken by pilgrims from Ireland and Wales, heading to St. James’s Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It cuts 12 miles through land from St Uny’s Church to Mount St Michael.
“There is such a huge history here and at the church, which is 1000 years old, and one of the earliest Christian sites in the country.
“It’s steeped in a huge amount of history – it gives you chills!” she says.
Nicola and her husband both lived in and rented the house for the holidays. They live on a nearby property and have enjoyed hosting people at Ferryman and seeing the effect being in a home in such a location has had on them.
Nicola hopes that a new owner will also fall in love with her story. And if another artist or creative moved in, well… that would be perfect!
Ferryman’s Rest is a four-bedroom detached house, along with John Miller’s former art studio, the Beach House, now a separate two-bedroom residence.
There are steps to the beach, a large sun deck, lawned seating area and a boathouse with perpetual planning.
It’s on the market for £1,500,000 at Lillicrap Chilcott, Truro.