Photographs courtesy of W. Coombes & Sons



The last word in stylish, high-end holiday living in the heart of the country has been achieved through a project overseen by the architectural team at Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

As well as the usual challenges of listed building and building regulations the architectural team at Greenslade Taylor Hunt also had to navigate around the perils of the pandemic.

Indeed GTH Lead Architect Michila Wilks RIBA kept her attendance at the project site to a minimum until work was completed at Cricket Malherbie, near Ilminster.

The resulting Churchill is breathtaking – bringing new life into disused farm buildings and boosting wildlife.

Barn owls roost in the nearby trees and there are more bats in the area than ever. Part of the planning permission required accommodating a bat loft and addressing a range of ecological issues.

“It’s paradise in a rural setting,” says delighted farmer and landowner Anthony Jeanes.

“We have seen a visible increase in wildlife activity. It proves you can carry out a conversion project and work in harmony with each other.”

The project took 13 months and was overseen by contractors W. Coombes & Sons, of Ilminster, a fifth generation building firm, which has just celebrated 150 years in business.

The first paying guests enjoyed the facilities in July 2021 and unsurprisingly Churchill is booked up well into 2022.

What a transformation from a set of disused farm buildings to a stunning holiday home for up to 20 guests – with plenty of space for 10 more if required!

The architects have taken the footprint of the original buildings to produce the last word in luxury.

The architectural team led by Michila came up with a plan that was sympathetic to the original building, while incorporating the best of modern design.

Extensive alterations, refurbishment and extension of the original building have resulted in a magnificent transformation from tired disused barn to the ultimate luxurious haven.

The swimming pool, which is housed in the original barn is a real showstopper. It incorporates the barn beams and original stonework with enormous modern glass doors, which allow light to flood the space.

It offers everything you could possibly require from a rural escape. The indoors and outdoors blending seamlessly via a large glass fronted balcony that gives uninterrupted views of endless rolling hills and fields.

Understandably architect Michila Wilks is delighted with the result.

“I’m so thrilled. It was a good scheme on paper and it makes my job all the more worthwhile when it all comes together,” she said.

Churchill features a spa hall with heated pool, sunken hot tub and sauna, a well-equipped games room, a cinema room and outdoor space for play and alfresco dining.

The fact that Anthony Jeanes had a clear idea of what he wanted clearly helped. The Development Land and Planning Department had also transformed neighbouring Beaverbrook – a former barn to a high-end holiday let. They used the template of Beaverbrook to inspire an even more spectacular build for Churchill, assisted by a good set of contractors and local craftsmen to bring the idea into reality.

GTH’s work with farmer and landowner Anthony Jeanes dates back decades.

The firm’s agricultural division was initially involved with the Cricket Malherbie site when Mr Jeanes ran a large dairy herd.

More recently he decided buildings on the farm were no longer fit for modern agricultural use and set about the process of converting them for commercial space.

This proved a lengthy and arduous process, but after six years Robert Clark, Commercial Partner at GTH’s Yeovil office, secured planning consent to transform the barns for office use.

An American firm took out a long-term (10-year) lease on the offices, but unfortunately had to pull out after two years leaving the future uncertain.

Again Mr Jeanes turned to GTH and full planning and listed building consent was gained to change the use to residential.

The resulting Beaverbrook, named after newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, a previous owner of the land, was completed and has been run as a successful holiday let.

Spurred on by the success of Beaverbrook work began on the appropriately named Churchill in June 2020 – Winston Churchill was a long-time friend of the lord and a guest at Cricket Malherbie.

Both properties are let out by groupstays.com, a Somerset-based accommodation site, which specialises in luxury properties for large family groups.

The interior design is the domain of Anthony’s wife, Jo, who has a flair for making the spaces both welcoming and luxurious.

To find out how Greenslade Taylor Hunt can help convert your plans into reality please contact the Development Land and Planning Team on 01823 334466 or email michila.wilks@gth.net