Restoring an Old Ruin in Cornwall, UK

Hi Lloyd,

Love Shelter and ever since a friend showed me your book a decade ago I’ve been dreaming of taking a copy of it with me to a hillside somewhere in Europe and seeing what might be possible haha

I’ve done bits of labouring and landscaping and walling over the years here in Cornwall, and have never quite managed to earn and save up enough to get a foot on the ladder towards some land here or even elsewhere as life has been quite hectic. However, I somehow managed to come away with enough money to buy the old ruin I’d dreamed of since being 15.

It’s not on a hillside somewhere sunny yet, but that might be the next one, but it is a very special place in an incredibly beautiful and historic area within a world heritage site.

It was built in the late 1700s to early 1800s and the archaeologists that we have to use here in the preliminary stages of the build because of the surrounding ancient history even found a couple of shetland pony shoes (that were often used by the coast here to pull up carts full of seaweed). We also found an old pair of sugar tongs and a half penny from 1861 which was really cool.

From the patchy information that we’ve managed to find in some of the old records it’s likely that it was lived in by mining and agricultural workers as there is an ancient farm 100m down the track and many disused copper and tin mines scattered all over the fields and into the valley.

I’m probably only one third of the way through the works (with some help along the way) towards reinstating it traditionally and working it into a cosy tiny home that will sleep 2 to 3 and maybe even a couple more outside in a small yurt or something.

We’re hammering out a lot of stonework here in Cornwall through this winter whilst we build a big retaining wall and repair the structure which can be cold and challenging but always rewarding!

When it’s finished I’d like to try and give something back by finding a few people each year from local mental health charities who might benefit from using it for some rest and relaxation during a tricky time.

Aside from never selling it and definitely wanting to live in it myself eventually, the plan is to do up a bigger van and maybe rent the place out for a while and once i’ve saved up enough to buy that piece of land somewhere sunny whilst there’s still time!

It’s going to have oak trusses and a wet laid scantle roof (we have lots of those preserved here that stand the coastal weather) and a mezzanine bedroom in the old building and a more modern extension with sliding doors and a small kitchen and bathroom 🙂

Really hope this finds you well and that you’re both happy and healthy.

Tristan Brown

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

2 Responses to Restoring an Old Ruin in Cornwall, UK

  1. WOW !! Good for you, buying the old ruin and now fixing it up ! Nothing quite so beautiful and solid as stonework !

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