One of the increasing trends in Westcountry property recently has been a demand for houses with their own income stream.
Buyers, it seems, are on the lookout for homes which can provide the owner with a living, as well as a lifestyle.
And Preston House in the picturesque South Hams area of South Devon is probably one of the most delightful ways to achieve just that.
This 400-year-old farmhouse offers a wonderful opportunity to run a small holiday business and also enjoy life in a truly lovely property.
The main house is one of the finest period farmhouses in the South Hams, and dates back to 1600.
Grade II-listed, it is stone-built and full of characterful period details.
"The farmhouse was built in the very traditional Devon cross-passage style," says owner Steve, who has lived at Preston House with partner Martin for five years.
"Some rather special details such as the beautiful porch suggest the owner was doing rather well at the time the house was built. Although no manor house, it really is a very substantial farmhouse."
Today, the building has been completely restored. The original farmhouse is now a stunning three-bedroomed home, complete with huge kitchen with an Aga, set in a 1.5-acre garden.
The main house has a wealth of original features, giving it tremendous character. The handsome stone façade has a two-storey gabled porch, to one side of which are the original dove holes.
The house has a traditional stone-flagged cross passage from front to back, the customary style in Devon farmhouses dating back to medieval times. Its many other original features include a large inglenook fireplace with two bread ovens and a slate-floored smoking chamber, where meat and fish would have been preserved.
There is a turret staircase leading to the first floor, and other features include exposed beams and lintels, attractive casement windows and slate-flagged floors.
An additional wing was added to the original building in 1750. This now forms a four-star holiday let as a two-bedroomed cottage. In addition, the former threshing barn in the grounds is now another holiday property, with three bedrooms. The barn has reverse-level accommodation, with bedrooms downstairs and an open-plan kitchen/living area upstairs.
A team of experienced conservation architects undertook the barn conversion with painstaking attention to detail. It has many charming features, such as an oak staircase and exposed roof beams upstairs. The clever use of glass in the double- storey glazed entrance atrium brings light and warmth into the building.
"From year to year at least 40% of our holiday bookings are repeat business," says Steve, a former property manager.
"People just love it here because it is so peaceful and yet the location offers so much to do. We are between Dartmoor and the sea, with excellent pubs and walks nearby."
In terms of communications, too, the property is well connected, despite its tranquil location on the outskirts of the village of Woodleigh. "We are mid-way between Kingsbridge and Totnes and less than a 15 minute drive from the A38," says Steve.
This is a delightful part of the South Hams, with protected status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The property is a few miles from the beautiful coastline of Dartmouth, Bigbury Bay and Slapton, with its estuary harbours, rugged cliffs and many coves and beaches. To the north is the dramatic scenery of the Dartmoor National Park.
Closer to home, the property adjoins a green lane which leads to wonderful walks. Many are beside the nearby River Avon, which has footpaths along its banks.
The cottage and the barn are offered for sale with all their fixtures, fittings, furniture, equipment and linens and can provide a handsome income. "We have in previous years rented the cottage and barn with Helpful Holidays, which has been a real success," explains Steve.
Alternatively, the properties would make guest, staff or family accommodation. "This season we haven't taken any bookings yet, in case the new owner does not want to offer holiday lets. But once you do put the barn and cottage on the market, you'll be fully booked within two months, as they are so popular," says Steve.
All in all, Preston House is, quite simply, a real gem. The owners have thoroughly enjoyed their time here and are moving on to find new challenges. This offers the lucky buyer a chance to enjoy a really wonderful lifestyle here, in a very special property indeed.