It seems almost certain this is the one referred to in 1787 (in a description printed in the North Devon Magazine of 1824) as 'the house lately built by Sir John Borlase Warren', the young M.P. for Marlow and future Admiral who owned Lundy from 1775-1781. The new house replaced the Castle as the focus of island life. Here the various owners of the late Georgian period stayed when they visited the island, as Sir Vere Hunt did in the winter of 1810-11, a visit partly recorded in a journal. In their absence it was where the island agent or steward lived, putting up occasional visitors.
Hunt mentions a front and back parlour (in which his more valued things were stored when he left), a kitchen in which he drank his punch in the evening and a hall in which there was dancing on his last night. Apart from his own bedroom, there was a 'dark room' in which he slept when a ferocious easterly was blowing straight up the Millcombe Valley, making his room on that side unusable. He had already had the cracks of the front door stopped with green baize, an extra carpet put down in the parlour, and all the shutters closed.
An inventory was made of the furniture in the Farmhouse in 1822. The Parlour was furnished with a dining table and chairs, a side table, bookcase, two small tables and a number of glasses, decanters, candlesticks and other things for the table. The Small Parlour, apart from one small table had only china and cutlery and a quantity of lumber ('1 oald clock useless, 1 oald tea urn, 4 tooth bruch stands ...'). Over the parlours were two bedrooms ('1 broalken feather bed, 1 mattress bad, washing stand broalken...'). The house also contained a kitchen, furnished with a dresser, a large and a small kitchen table and 2 'green chairs'; a store-room over it containing a bed and more junk; a dairy; and the steward, Mr Mannix's own room in which he both worked ('1 writing desk') and slept ('Feather bed very bad'). There he also kept that essential piece of Lundy equipment, a spyglass or telescope. The total value of all the furniture and chattels and farm implements was £60 2s 5d.
How the house was actually arranged is not clear from this inventory. Mrs M.C.H. Heaven wrote in her ‘Lundy Log’ that the towers contained four rooms and the central section was a dairy. However, as she never saw it herself this is not conclusive. Clearly one of the towers did have four rooms. You would expect the kitchen to have been in the middle bit, with a storeroom under the roof and the dairy next to it (it seems to have been in a semi-basement), but it may have been in the other tower with the agent's room. Other rooms might have been empty. There is no mention of the hall in which Hunt describes his Irish employees dancing, while he fell asleep in the kitchen.
Soon after Miss Heaven's drawing was made in 1838, Mr Heaven altered the house by taking off the hipped tower roofs, adding a second storey in the middle and then putting a shallow pitched roof over the whole house. He of course stayed in Millcombe, so this now became the Farmhouse. It seems to have had two families living in it, at least in the 1850s and 1860s.
In 1849 Charles Kingsley came to Lundy. Afterwards he wrote that he 'dined at the Farmhouse, dinner costing me 1s 9d and then rambled over the island ... Oh that I had been a painter for that day at least!' It must have been on this occasion that he gathered material for his description of the island in Westward Ho! According to the Bideford Gazette Mr John Lee, the ‘Governor’ in 1854, 'provides visitors with board, lodgings, beer, port and spirits at reasonable prices; conducts them over the island, shows the ruins of Marisco’s Castle, the remains of St. Helena's Chapel, Johnny Groat's House, Devil’s Lime-Kiln, and Lighthouse, and the liberty of hunting, fishing and fowling'.
When the Lundy Granite Company was set up in 1863, it took the lease of most of the island, including the farm. At the north end of the Farmhouse they built a Store (which possibly doubled as an ale-house, now the outer bar of the Tavern) and a Storekeeper's cottage (now the main room of the Tavern). At the other end was a bakehouse with lodging for the baker above (the present office). They also built a large new house running back at right angles from the south end of the Farmhouse. This was still unfinished inside when the company folded. It reverted to the Heavens in 1871, and one of the empty rooms was often used for Sunday services. The Store had proved such a benefit for the islanders that it was kept open. The farm was kept in hand for a few years after this and prospered, with a new dairy added at the back of the Farmhouse.
The Farmhouse is divided
During 1982 and 1983, Ernest Ireland Construction Ltd of Bath undertook the work under the supervision of the architect Philip Jebb. For this and the other works in progress at the same time, up to 30 men were employed on the island. They worked in four-week shifts, then had a week on the mainland, travelling by helicopter to Hartland Point then by bus to Bath. The Farmhouse was divided invisibly to provide Old House North and South. At its northern end, the hotel billiard room and the rooms over it were pulled down, and the Marisco Cottage beyond (originally the Storekeeper's cottage and latterly home of Mr and Mrs Gade) was converted into the main room of a much-enlarged Marisco Tavern.
For a short history of Lundy please click here.