February 20, 2019
I think nearly everyone who has been to St Ives has had a little fantasy about living in Quay House. It is the big house in the corner of the harbour by Smeaton's Pier with palm trees and a garden overlooking the beach. It sits on what is known as Carnsew Rock and often looks like it glows in the St Ives light.
The original building dates back to the 2nd half of the 18th century. It was originally one building, possibly an inn, possibly used by smugglers, although not surprisingly there is no firm evidence for this!
In 1837 it was converted in 3 dwellings and 3 fisheries. The ownership then passed through several owners whilst the buildings were presumably rented out to locals.
In 1905 it was bought by the artist John Mallard Bromley (1858 - 1939) who had moved to St Ives from London in 1897. He married Penzance born artist Selena Wing in 1899 and they moved into Quay House. We believe it was the Bromleys who converted it into one big house. John died in 1939 and Selina in 1940 and the house was then sold on.
It has had several more owners or trustees until in 1989 it was bought by Michael and Gillian Bailey. We think it was then sold on but I'm not clear on this information. There are rumours that it is owned by
a) an American couple
b) someone in the music business (possibly a conductor or musician of a major UK orchestra)
c) barristers/solicitors/architects from London.
d) there is a rumour that David Bowie used to own it/once stayed in it/never knew anything about it.
All we do know is it is a private house and is sadly not available to rent - or buy!
The structure at the front of the house on the beach looks like an old fireplace. Rumours are that it was an old smugglers run, a cellar for keeping fish and nets. But actually it is a little less romantic. It is part of an old adit that was used to redirect the water from The Stennack onto the beach when the sand built up too high. This became redundant when the arches were built on Smeaton's Pier.
If you look carefully, there is the most beautiful stained glass window. When the owners are in and put the lights on at night it shines out.
I am slightly in love with their front door. It is accessed off Quay Street and is rather beautiful!
And that the funny little hobbit cupboard door in the side of the wall is something to do with an indoor swimming pool. Swanky!
If anyone knows any other details, rumours, tall tales or otherwise, do share them with us!
November 02, 2021