Nestled in an unassuming street in Great Dunmow, Essex, UK is a home which is now more dreamscape than reality. From the outside, Talliston House & Gardens looks like your usual three bedroom semi-detached ex-council house, however since buying the property in 1990 owner John Trevillian has transformed the interior of the average looking abode into a wonderland of unique and inspirational locations set across more than six thousand years of history. Hailed as somewhere between design, decoration and art, the project is at its core an exploration of the extraordinary within the ordinary and stepping from a conventional 21st century street into the mysterious delights of Talliston House & Gardens, this concept has certainly been achieved.
Twenty five years in the making, the house and gardens will finally reach completion on Tuesday 6th October 2015 exactly a quarter of a century after the work began and at this point the house will have undergone a complete renovation. The extensive overhaul which took place in each room in the house started with a complete deconstruction of each space which took the rooms back to the brickwork to be built from scratch again. Upon completion of the project not one square centimetre of the original building will remain intact both inside and out.
The most extraordinary aspect of the home’s reconstruction however, is not the time and attention to detail it required but more that John Trevillian carried out this project largely on his own. Confessing that at the start of the journey he could not even wire a plug, John carried out the majority of work from carpentry and bricklaying to landscape gardening and more specialist work such as basket weaving and gold leafing using skills learnt purely along the way. Tradesmen were brought onto the project only when required for building regulations to ensure the electricity, gas and structure complied with standards. John wasn’t always on his own is his endeavour however, and as news of the unique project travelled, a Talliston House & Gardens community formed full of craftspeople, artists, architects and volunteers who have joined the story over the years to lend helping hands.
Each of Talliston’s thirteen rooms and locations have their own story to tell from around the four corners of the globe and the house is now steeped in a rich history despite being less than a century old, due to the 1800 antiques and objects housed within its walls. Likened to stepping into a living, breathing work of art the house can’t simply be visited – it must be experienced and each new space is a step into another time & place.
The house’s interior includes The Voodoo Kitchen set in historic Bayou St John, New Orleans in 1954 and the Watchtower, a living room based on a Snowdonian watchtower built between 1210-1240. The two sleeping spaces in the home could not be further apart in design with one called the Room of Dreams, a guest bedroom in the former Spanish military fortress Alhambra Palace, whilst the other whisks you away to the Scottish Highlands where you will find a Victorian gothic bedchamber simply named the Haunted Bedroom.
Talliston’s outdoor areas take you on an even more vivid journey with the Fountain Courtyard set in the Boyne Valley, Ireland said to be home to a witch but with a real story more intriguing still, a Canadian log cabin deep in the wilderness and a 19th century garden built upon an ancient pagan worship site called the Labyrinth. Additional curiosities include the Starhouse, a starstation in near-space and the Treehouse Sanctuary built upon the flood plain of Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap Lake.
The project needs to be experience to be believed and full information on the transformation, the inspiration behind each area and John Trevillian himself can be found on the Talliston House & Gardens website. Grand tours will be held for visitors to marvel at the magical world of Talliston after the project completion and tickets for the one off weekend event on 16th – 18th October 2015 can also be found here.