A tiny Cornish hamlet has been sold to a billionaire real estate family for £16million – ending a decade-long battle and sparking fears families could even be evicted from their homes.
Locals from the picturesque 1,200-acre Trevalga near tourist attraction Tintagel are worried they could be kicked out of their homes with their quiet way of life potentially ruined.
The village on Cornwall’s northern coastline has been bought by the William Pears Group for the eight-figure sum.
Cornwall councillor for the Boscastle and Camelford area, Barry Jordan, said people want to know more details about the new owner’s plans for Trevalga with fears they could be evicted with many on shorthold tenancies.
Locals were irked last year when top public school Marlborough College, where Kate and Pippa Middleton were educated, put the entire village on the market and had vowed to block a future sale.
Trevalga, pictured on a map, is located between the tourist havens of Boscastle and Tintagel in northern Cornwall
Villagers in ancient hamlet Trevalga, near Tintagel, fear their gentle way of life could be ruined after sale was rubber-stamped
Trevalga was put up on the market by top public school Marlborough College. It has been bought for £16million by real estate family the William Pears Group
Sports magnate and boxing promoter Barry Hearn was once mooted as a potential buyer, and even met with villagers as he eyed-up the ancient hamlet.
The 1,200-acre Trevalga estate was formerly owned by Gerald Curgenven, a former pupil of Marlborough College, who left the land in his will to the exclusive school in 1959, with the instruction to ‘preserve it’.
Marlborough College attempted to sell the land off in 2010 after receiving legal advice that the trust was invalid because it did not have an end date or ultimate beneficiary.
However, the sale was blocked after residents hired lawyers who suggested the college’s position was wrong.
Earlier this year, locals discovered trustees had instructed Savills to put the land up for sale with a guide price of £15,750,000, prompting a fresh battle – dubbed the Battle of Trevalga – by residents.
This week, Savills released a statement and confirmed the village had been sold to William Pears.
The Williams Pears website says: ‘Pears Partnership Capital acts as an advisor to the Pears family in originating, arranging and overseeing direct private equity investments in operating businesses.
‘The Pears family have been investing in residential and commercial property since 1952 when the William Pears Group was founded by Bernard Pears and his son, Clive.’
Local residents Serena Patrick (left), Kizzy Lockyear (right) and her son Ruben (centre) campaigned against the sale of Trevalga
Residents had battled to try and stop the sale of the 1,200-acre estate, with signs being put up across the community
The manor of the historic coastal parish of Trevalga in Cornwall is home to just six let farms and 17 other homes – who have lived in the ‘unspoilt’ paradise for decades
The 1,200-acre Trevalga estate was formerly owned by Gerald Curgenven, a former pupil of Marlborough College, who left the land in this will to the exclusive school in 1959, with the instruction to ‘preserve it’
Today the business is run by Clive’s three sons, Sir Trevor, Mark and David Pears who are listed as company directors of Castle Lane Securities Ltd.
‘The family take a long-term approach to financing which has evolved over time to ensure that they act to preserve the capital of the business’, the website adds.
Now villagers are wondering whether the new owners have other plans for the village and they will have their shorthold tenancies liquidated.
Last summer, tenants voiced fears about what the sale would mean for their rented homes.
They protested that the sale contravenes Gerald Curgenven’s original intent to preserve the historic village and landscape, and to continue to provide affordable housing for local families.
Many of the homes are let on assured shorthold tenancies, with some families having lived in the hamlet for generations.
Councillor Jordan said: The residents need security of tenure, they need to know they’re going to be safe in their properties and not be kicked out in 12 months’ time.
‘The most important thing to me is that they’re looked after, they’ve been here a long time and families before them, it’s been going on for years.’
Peter Pracownik, a tenant for 28 years, lives in the village’s clifftop manor house.
He said: ‘Their deal is to make sure everybody remains where they’ve always remained and all the repairs will be done.
‘It will take a while because there’s a lot of repairs – my house alone, £50,000 won’t put it right, because it’s so bad, but they’re working on that as well for me.’
Barry Hearn dines at Buca di Beppo during Leyton Orient’s team holiday in 2011. Hearn had been mooted as a potential buyer of Trevalga and told locals he was ‘probably best news locals have had’ as he wanted to keep village how it is
Sales particulars for the ‘Manor of Trevalga’ describe it as including six let farms, 17 further houses and cottages, two of which are vacant, and a range of miscellaneous property including barns ‘with planning potential’.
In June 2022, the Trustees of The Gerald Curgenven Will Trust wrote to all the tenants of the Manor of Trevalga to tell them they were selling the estate.
Following concerns raised by tenants over the validity of the sale, the Charity Commission was called in.
In September 2022, it concluded that trustees had acted in compliance with their legal duties.
The commission’s spokesman said: ‘This has been a period of great uncertainty and anxiety for the residents of Trevalga and I know that this outcome will come as a further disappointment for those impacted.
‘However, having thoroughly assessed the matter, we have concluded this is not a matter in which the commission can intervene.
‘In this instance, we are satisfied that the trustees’ decision-making and the process followed have complied with the law and our guidance. It is therefore right that we have concluded our case.’
A month later it looked as though Matchroom Sport chairman Mr Hearn was the frontrunner and told the Mail at the time the villagers ‘are 100 per cent secure’.
He said: ‘The No 1 most important thing is no one — no one — would be evicted. I’m probably the best news these tenants have had because I want to keep it the way it is.’
At that time, trustees for the Gerald Curgenven Will Trust said the estate was no longer financially viable, and that it did not have the funds to improve the many period properties let out to residents.
The village dates from the time of the Domesday Book in 1086.