Gull Cottage started life as a storage cellar during the flourishing pilchard industry in Boscastle. The date of construction is not known, but it is likely to have been between 1780 and 1820. Catches were stored in large wooden barrels, pressed down from the top to extract oils for lamp fuel and blood and brine for use as a fertiliser for local agriculture. Today, the only remaining evidence of its past are the brick niches high in the lounge and dining room walls where once the ends of pressing poles sat.
By the late-1800s, after the pilchard industry had run its course, the fish cellars were converted to housing for fishermen and, later still in the mid-1900s, modernised much as you see them today and sold off.
During the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1980, Trafalgar House, the property development company, quickly demolished the Firestone Tyre factory in London hours before it was due to be protected or ‘listed’. The public outcry that followed led the government of the day to pass legislation to review and protect all the precious properties across the country. And so, seven years later, on 20th July 1987, Gull Cottage acquired its own Grade II listing. Consequently, Gull Cottage does not have central heating. Nor double glazing.
On Monday, 16th August 2004 the two villages of Boscastle and Crackington Haven suffered severe flooding following many hours of unrelenting heavy rain. A volume of water equivalent to 18 Wembley Stadiums flowed through the village in one day. While no lives were lost (seven Sea King helicopters rescued 150 people), six buildings and 75 cars were washed out to sea and 100 houses and businesses destroyed. Gull Cottage remained untouched. £4.5 million has subsequently been spent on flood prevention and is now a topic in many secondary school geography courses.
Niches in the brickwork at Gull Cottage remain from its days as a fish cellar
The boat outside Gull Cottage has become rather iconic: it has appeared in very many photographs, some even for sale.
We're not certain when the boat outside the front of the cottage became a feature: it's believed to have been put outside the cottage in the 1950s or 1960s.
There is a picture in the Boscastle Community Archive page on Facebook of a boat sat in the harbour which is thought to be our boat. We are trying to get verification and permission to include the picture here.
What we do know is that it is actually a full-sized boat with the stern buried underground; that it is in countless photos of Boscastle; and that it offers a welcome break for many a walker's feet.
Whether you stay in the cottage or are walking past on the South West Coast Path, you're welcome to put your feet up for a few minutes and take in the scenery.
The boat seat has been a place to rest weary legs for over 50 years - demonstrated here by Dennis