I left you last time at the door of Coleton Fishacre, a 1920s-built arts and crafts house owned by the National Trust. We had just taken a rather strenuous hike along the nearby South West Coast Path and arrived, slightly dazed, at our end point. After nipping into the toilets to try and tame our hair before returning to civilisation, we pushed open the door to the house and were greeted into a home that was plush and pristine in equal measure.

The house was built specially for the D'Oyly Carte family, or otherwise known as the people behind the revival of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. With a hand in the pockets of both the theatre and hotel businesses, the family was incredibly wealthy and Coleton Fishacre was only their holiday home. Nevertheless, the family was struck by misfortune; a love of motoring turned to tragedy when the D'Oyly Carte's son, Michael, was killed at the age of 21 in an accident. 

This ultimately led to the breakdown of the D'Oyly Carte's marriage and clues to this troubled past can be seen throughout the house; from the portraits of Michael left lovingly on display to the separate bedroom Rupert D'Oyly Carte took after his relationship began to disintegrate. 

Despite it having been built as a country retreat, the house became the principal residence for Lady Dorothy D'Oyly Carte. It's not hard to see why she would have wanted to spend her time here; the house was built in accordance with the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement which emphasised simplicity of design and excellence in quality and craftmanship. There are also distinct Art Deco influences in the decor. She spent the majority of her time curating the exotic gardens, many tropical plants of which could survive due to the proximity of this patch of coastline to the Gulf stream.

It's particularly interesting to see the difference between the "upstairs and downstairs" of the house; namely, the family's living areas compared to the servant's quarters. Whilst the family's rooms are lavishly carpeted and expansive, the servant's rooms by comparison are cosy and cramped. I actually preferred the servant's rooms with their kitch lino flooring and granny-chic decor. The other rooms felt a little more dated.

One of the most interesting rooms was the dining room, where two very helpful volunteers shared a number of interesting facts about the room. For example, the pastel coloured cigarettes in the cigarette holder could be ordered by debutantes to exactly match the colour of their ballgowns, and the Parisian painting on the wall was created by a soldier returned home from the war, who made a name for himself on the London art scene and moved to Paris with his wife where they both became artists. (On a less historical note, we were also told how one thieving visitor forewent the true valuables in the room and nicked the fake Victoria sponge on the table...) However my favourite room was the gorgeous lounge at the very end of the visit. Decked in cream, sage green and black, it's almost impossible not to imagine the modern icon of the 1920s, Gatsby himself, enjoying a cocktail in the room whilst admiring the views of the sloping gardens out towards sea.