Marlborough House was built in 1810 for John Bull, a Packet service captain, who named the building after his ship the Duke of Marlborough. It is a grade II* listed, three storey country house, which features a relief of the ship in a central bay on the front of the building. Bull’s ship engaged in action while out on service, including one occasion when it was mistaken for an enemy off Cape Finisterre and battled HMS Primrose, which came off worse despite outmanning and outgunning the Packet vessel, and the captain was awarded a ceremonial sword for his bravery.
One of Falmouth’s most iconic buildings, which has fallen into disrepair, was visited by bailiffs on Tuesday for an eviction to be carried out.
Stephen Barrett, who has owned Marlborough House in Silverdale Road for the last ten years, was not present when locksmiths, accompanied by police officers and representatives of Savills estate agents, cut the chain on the gates of the Georgian property.
The bailiffs were at the gates of the house some time before 11am to enforce a warrant issued by Truro County Court on November 19 on behalf of the Bank of Scotland. A notice posted on the gates of Marlborough House stated that as England is a common law jurisdiction, the owner had removed any implied right of access to the property. The notice also stated that he would charge anyone entering the property according to what he sees as his common law rights – an observation which did not stop the bailiffs or police.
Concerns had been raised regarding Mr Barrett’s possession of Marlborough House after the building had started to noticeably decay, with local residents and the Cornish Buildings Group noting that the front porch was falling down and the gardens had been left to grow wild.
Paul Holden, chairman of the Cornish Buildings Group, said: “Some members have spoken to me about their concern for Marlborough House, and the way the property is beginning to look run down. It’s one of our most important Grade II* listed buildings in Cornwall, and the heritage value is so important.”
Local residents, who did not wish to be named, said: “Marlborough House is one of the most significant houses in Falmouth. The owner had been planning to restore it to its original splendour, but nothing could be further from the truth. The front porch is falling down. The front has been paint when in fact it should be pink like all the other properties around here.”
Mr Holden added that he felt although people had raised concerns about the house, he felt they did not “want to stick their head above the parapet.”
Nina Paternoster, senior development officer at Cornwall Council, which is responsible for listed buildings in Cornwall, said: “The council is aware of the concerns expressed by residents and local amenity groups and have been monitoring the site. Should there be any change in the condition of the building, further investigations may be undertaken by the council’s Planning Enforcement Service.”
An agent from Savills was on hand on Tuesday morning to carry out an evaluation, saying the company will be selling the property on behalf of the bank in the near future. Eversheds solicitors, who acted on behalf of the Bank of Scotland in carrying out the eviction, said it was “not in any position to disclose any information” on why Mr Barrett was evicted. Mr Barrett could not be contacted for comment.