Lounge Cabin Three Breakfast Room

About Wellington House

Wellington House is lovely, Edwardian house with a very interesting history owned and run by Rosemary and Bruce Hobbs. Here we tell you something about ourselves, together with a comprehensive history of the house.

Rosemary was born in Falmouth, less than a mile away from Wellington House and went to the old Falmouth High School, before doing a secretarial course at Falmouth Technical College, and then starting work as an intern at Cornwall County Council. She worked her way through several departments before settling in the Fire Brigade. She re-located to London in 1980 and worked as Office Manager at Cable & Wireless in the City of London. Returning to Falmouth in 1985 she worked as Marketing Executive for both St. Michaels Hotel and Falmouth Beach Hotel until Wellington House claimed all her time.

Bruce was born in South Wales and lived in London and Buckinghamshire as a child, before the family relocated to Bristol where he attended Cotham Grammar School. He graduated from South Shields Marine & Technical College in 1967 and joined the Merchant Navy, signing on in turn with Clan Line, Union Castle and Bowater. He took the decision to leave the sea in 1982 and took up dairy farming in Devon. He then formed his own company, Landside Engineering, moving to Falmouth in 2003 and re-launching it as South West Boiler Services, specialising in commercial and industrial boiler maintenance. He has seen the inside of most of the breweries, dairies and other factories that use steam in the South West - without him there would be a lot less locally produced beer and cheese for visitors to consume.

Together we intend to carry on welcoming guests to both Wellington House and Below Stairs for the foreseeable future. These days we have a little more help, from Chris in the garden, Geoff looking after the maintenance, and Isobel and Anna helping with the cleaning, ironing and bed-changing.

A History of Wellington House

The house named 'South View' was built in 1913, in the last summer before the Great War, by Lord Kimberley. It was first leased to a Mr. A.E. Lewis, who was the owner of Taylor's Garage (which is now Trago Mills). We have the original lease document with the big red Kimberley seal at the bottom. Mr. Lewis died about 1932 and it is possible the lease was taken over by his sister, who already owned the lease to the attached house next door (Tregenna). The terms of the lease state a rent of just £6.00 per annum, payable on the quarter days, and it prohibited any use as a boarding house or tea rooms.

During World War II the house was probably used as a small nursing or maternity home, and we have found lots of 'surgical green' paintwork under the more recent layers. Someone told me that the current guest lounge and dining room was used as the delivery room - how many babies might have been born here? In these days the kitchen was in the basement, and there was a dumb-waiter to bring food up to the dining room. There was probably a live-in 'cook-general' who slept in a bed in an alcove there, and did the cleaning as well as cooking, although the laundry was probably sent out, as we have not found any evidence of a wash house.

Between 1913 and 1948 the house was probably sub-let and when the lease was first sold on, in 1948 to Mr. & Mrs. Derham, it was certainly being used as a guesthouse. They paid £3,000. Mr. & Mrs. Derham obviously had an eye to a profit because they sold the lease on again less than a month later for £3,750, a very quick profit of £750, which was a lot of money in 1948, when average wages were less than £200 a year.

The house was bought by the Ponting family, as Mr. A.A. Ponting was an Engineer and had been given a job at Falmouth Docks. The house was used for summer guests, when the family moved out of their bedrooms into the basement and even the summer house. During this time Mrs. Ponting Snr. was ailing and bed-ridden, and eventually died in the house. I have been told by a great-nephew that when he stayed in the house in the Fifties, her ghost used to take pictures down from the wall in his room during the night. We have never seen or felt her, but we do occasionally hear unexplained footsteps coming down the stairs and out of the front door, and then later they return and go back upstairs, when the house is known to be empty! Mr. Ponting died in 1974 and his son Viv Ponting took over the lease, and was allowed to buy the freehold from Lord Kimberley. He and his wife Barbara continued to run the house as a guesthouse until he died, when she sold to Mr. & Mrs. Johnson in 1977. The house was now valued at £23,000! They were Yorkshire folk and re-named the house 'Pennine' under which name they too opened for summer guests.

The house was sold on again in 1983 to Stuart and Norma Dallison, from whom Rosemary purchased the house in 1984 when she was still working in London. They had owned the house for less than a year and did not offer bed and breakfast as they had 3 daughters who wanted a bedroom each. Rosemary moved back to Falmouth on Midsummer Day 1985 and after a lot of redecorating, and installing a much-needed new kitchen, the re-named Wellington House opened for business on 1st July 1985 and has been a thriving business ever since. It is a house that needs people to make it feel right, and over those years there must have been thousands of people through the door and sleeping in the beds.

The house was renamed 'Wellington' after the Old-English Sheepdog, who lived here until 1989. He was replaced in 1991 with 'Guernsey' the Flat-Coat Retriever, joined in 1996 by 'Alderney', who in turn was later joined by 'Pooh' who was a Lab/Collie cross, and lived to the ripe old age of 19. The next dog-in-residence was Jake, also a black Flat-Coat Retriever, who was twice rescued, and adored humans, but was not such a good host to other dogs. He followed us wherever we went in the house and hated to be parted from us, making his disgust known very loudly if shut in the garden on his own. He occupied the sofa by the window in the kitchen so that he could see whoever arrived at the front door, and always carried a teddy, wherever he went, on walks and to the beach.

The current dog-in-residence is Cassie, also an Flat-Coat Retriever, who came to us at 12 months and is a handful to say the absolute least! Always loving, but determined to have her own way, and extremely excitable. We are still working on reducing that to calmer levels, having some success, but she would really like to rule the roost. Like all previous Flat-Coat Retrievers she loves mud and water, order unimportant. Probably just as well she is good at getting in the shower.

There have been many changes to the house in all those years - the 4 first floor bedrooms have become 3 to make space for the ensuite shower rooms, part of the attic has become a new bathroom, and the kitchen has had a second makeover in English Oak. The bedrooms have been re-decorated and re-carpeted many times now, as well as frequent new beds and sanitary ware, the last time in 2010/11. The garage was re-built and the drive tarmaced in 2001, and a spacious deck with views to the harbour built at the back of the house in 2008. An extension was added in the winter of 1986, and a self-contained flat was created on the lower ground floor for Rosemary's Mum, Annie. She lived there until she died aged nearly 93 in 2010, when the decision was taken to modernise and refurbish completely and this has now become the Below Stairs holiday apartment.