By best estimates the house was built just over 190 years ago in the Regency style. For most of its life it has been a private house, occupied by a family (with servants). A number of prominent Sidmothians lived here, including Major Brine ( who fought in the Peninsula War, resident 1853-68 ), Col. Cafe (who won the Victoria Cross in India, resident 1879-1886) and two daughters of an Earl (the Ladies Charlotte and Louisa Hobart-Hampden, resident 1886-1920).
For a short period it was a convalescent home and then in 1965 was divided into three flats. No. 3, in the attic, was formerly the servants quarters, No. 2 on the second floor was formerly the Family bedrooms, No. 1 on the first floor had been Reception rooms & Butler's Pantry. The basement kitchen, scullery, laundry, fuel and wine stores are now garages.
The garden was originally laid out in three parts: The upper third was Stables, Coach House and Kitchen Garden. This part was sold off in 1965 and now forms Claremont Cottage. Only a small brick building (stable & tack room?) remains of this third. The lower third was a "Pleasure Ground" with walks. It is now a wilderness of Rhododendrons with a fine Eucryphia & an Embothrium to hint at a former glory. The terracing can still be seen among the Rhododendron trunks. This, too, was sold off in 1965.
The middle third was the flower garden and lawn. At the division of the house into flats this third was allocated to Flat no. I-and it is this part which is open as part of the Secluded Gardens scheme.
This part of the original garden retains the layout of the Regency garden as is shown by a print of c.1830 and a photo of c.1860 in Sidmouth Museum. We are attempting to put the garden back close to what it was. The volume of shrub growth since 1964 has made the garden a haven for wildlife-fox, badger, even muntjac as well as many species of bird, & butterfly.
Claremont also has a breeding colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats and the garden is one of the few sites in Devon colonised by a terrestrial shrimp from the southern hemisphere.
An advertisement/or an auction at the York Hotel, Sidmouth in the "Exeter Flying Post" for j41'_ Aug 1847
"Lot. 1-An elegant Freehold Villa Residence called CLAREMONT with its coach house, stable, garden and pleasure grounds, beautifully situated on an eminence, commanding a delightful view, with the ocean in the distance, and within a few minutes walk of the shore. "
Kindly note: the summary of the property was written some time ago, perhaps 2005: (author unknown.)
It is worth noting the thatch roof, the three ladies and the gardener. It is also worth noting that the villa has not changed that much including the gardens associated with 1 Claremont, in almost two Centuries. I'd suggest that the ladies are a mother and two daughter or guests in classic Victorian dress. Personally I love the image and am hugely grateful to have the original. Quite how it survived over the years is remarkable. It is truly a snapshot of times gone by.
The document below was written c. 1995. The author is unknown (under investigation). The author lived in the property and as you can see from the document has spent some considerable time and effort to flesh out the history of Claremont. It makes very interesting reading and is by far the most comprehensive document on Claremont that exists.