The new Lord and Lady of the Dance: Cornishman, 77, sells historic home to local couple for £500,000 CHEAPER than £2m price tag after they agree to continue hosting traditional pageant in the grounds

  • Michael Jay, 77, says he received plenty of interest for Lismore House since it went on the market in May 2019
  • But he said potential buyers revealed they wanted to buy in the town without knowing what Flora Day was
  • Flora Day is an annual dance event – dating back from the Medieval period – held in town of Helston, Cornwall
  • Each year, as part of the event, the grounds of the £2million property are opened so people can dance
  • Property has been sold to Sarah and Adam Corbridge, who own Wearnes Jewellers in Helston and Falmouth 

One of Cornwall’s most historic homes has been sold for at least £500,000 cheaper than its original £2million asking price, after the new owners vowed to maintain its key role in the town’s traditional dance festival.

Michael Jay, 77, refused to sell stunning Lismore House, in Helston, to outsiders who knew nothing about the Cornish town’s famous Flora Day festival – a day-long dance event believed to date back to the Medieval period.

The grounds of the nine-bedroom country pile are a staging post for the annual May festival, which sees townsfolk dance to celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of spring. 

Mr Jay, who put Lismore House on the market in May 2019, says he turned down potential buyers of the gorgeous Grade-II listed building after they revealed they knew nothing about the Flora Day dance. 

Having been unable to find a suitable owner for the property, he eventually knocked down the asking price to £1.5million.

But the gorgeous Grade-II listed property has now been bought by locals Sarah and Adam Corbridge, who own a jewellery store chain in the area and have lived in Helston for 27 years.

The gorgeous Grade-II listed property has now been bought by locals Sarah and Adam Corbridge, who own a Cornish jewellery store chain and have lived in the village for 27 years

The nine-bedroom country pile (pictured) is located in the quaint Cornish town of Helston and plays host to the town’s Flora Day dance, a centuries-old annual spring tradition believed to originate from the Medieval period

Michael Jay, says he received tons of interest and offers for Lismore House (pictured) since it first went on the market in May 2019

But none of the offers were good enough for Mr Jay, as many of the potential buyers revealed they were wanting to buy in the town without even knowing what Flora Day was

Mr Jay (pictured), 77, who is moving to South East Asia on completion of the sale next month, says he is delighted that property is now going to local couple

The grounds of the nine-bedroom country pile are a staging post for the annual May festival, which sees townsfolk dance to celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of spring


Adam (left) and Sarah (right) Corbridge, who own Wearnes Jewellers in Helston and Falmouth, have bought the property for an undisclosed fee

Mr Jay, 77, who is moving to Thailand on completion of the sale, says he is delighted that property is now going to the local couple, who own Wearnes Jewellers in Helston and Falmouth.

But he says he could have sold the property far earlier, having rejected offers for more than two years so that it could remain in the hands of someone local who understood the importance of its Flora Day connections.  

The piece of local knowledge you would have needed to snap up Lismore house: What is Helston’s Flora Day?

Believed to originate from as far back as the Medieval Period, the Flora Dance, also known as as Furry Day, is an annual event held in Helston

Believed to originate from as far back as the Medieval Period, the Flora Dance, also known as as Furry Day, is an annual event held in Helston.   

Thought to be one of the oldest British festivals still practised today, the event sees locals join together on May 8 each year for a day of dance to celebrate the passing of winter and the beginning of spring. 

Dancers typically wear Helston’s symbolic flower, the lily of the valley, with gentlemen wearing it on their left, with the flowers pointing upwards, and the ladies wearing it upside down on the right.

The event involves a series of dances throughout the day, with the first starting at 7am and the last at 5pm.

Lismore plays an important part of the Flora Day celebrations with all four dances entering the grounds throughout the annual big day in May. 

Lismore plays an important part of the Flora Day celebrations with all four dances entering the grounds throughout the annual big day in May. 

Mr Jay, who was born in the town and has lived at Lismore for the last 27 years, said: ‘I was interested that local people, and hopefully people actually from Helston, would buy the property.

‘It’s quite famous. It’s a historic house in connection with Helston Flora Day. And that has now been established because the people who have bought Lismore are a local family.’

Speaking of other cases of homes being purchased and altered, or worse, demolished, he said: ‘Not this one. I wouldn’t let it go to people from outside.’

He said he had ‘lots’ of interest and offers but always turned them down.

He said: ‘There were several parties that were very keen but they were from up the country and didn’t know anything about Helston Flora Day, so I wasn’t very keen. I was in no hurry to sell the house.

‘It has taken two years, but that is my fault. I wanted to make sure whoever bought it was local,’ he said, explaining none of the other interested parties were ‘good enough’ for him. 

Lismore is synonymous with the town’s Flora Day celebrations, and arrived on the market hours after the 2019 event, the last Flora Day that occurred due to the pandemic.

The grand residence stands in enviable gardens and grounds of some 2.6 acres. 

Ordinarily, each year, Lismore’s picturesque ponds provide the backdrop to traditional dances as crowds gather to watch.

The property was on the market with an £2million asking price with Christophers estate agents and was most recently listed for £1.5 million.

Agents Alan Christophers said at the time the listing went up: ‘As a Helston estate agency we feel extremely privileged to be invited to market Lismore, which has meant so much to generations of Helstonians through the integral part it plays in the Flora Day celebrations.

‘It is a wonderful home with magnificent gardens and we, along with the owner Mr Michael Jay, hope that future owners will wish to continue the association that this superb residence has had with the town’s most important day.’ 

The property was sold for an undisclosed sum to Mr and Mrs Corbridge.  Mrs Corbridge, an actress and model in her early fifties, told the Times she had take part in the Flora Day dance for many years.

She said: ‘We’ve danced through Lismore many times not knowing that one day we would own it. It’s a Cinderella story.’

Mrs Corbridge is not allowed to lead the whole dance because she was born elsewhere in Cornwall. However, as owner of the house she is entitled to lead the dancers into the garden, where they circle the lake before sitting down for a glass of champagne.  

Lismore plays an important part of the Flora Day celebrations with all four dances entering the grounds throughout the annual big day in May

The grand residence (pictured: One of the living room areas) stands in enviable gardens and grounds of some 2.6 acres. Ordinarily, each year, Lismore’s picturesque ponds provide the backdrop to traditional dances as crowds gather to watch

The property (pictured: A dining room area of the property) was on the market with an £2 million asking price with Christophers estate agents and was most recently listed for £1.5 million and was sold for an undisclosed sum

Agents Alan Christophers said at the time the listing went up: ‘As a Helston estate agency we feel extremely privileged to be invited to market Lismore (pictured: One of the living room areas), which has meant so much to generations of Helstonians through the integral part it plays in the Flora Day celebrations

Mr Jay made it very clear that he had hoped that the future owners would maintain the property’s iconic role.

The estate agency also wrote: ‘Lismore plays an important part of the Flora Day celebrations with all four dances entering the grounds.

‘The midday and evening dances go around the gardens and then stop for a rest on the lawns before exiting through the house itself. 

‘It is custom that the owner of Lismore has the honour of walking at the front of the procession through its gardens.

‘Previous owners have embraced the wonderful relationship the property has with Flora Day and it is the very dear wish of the current incumbent, Mr Jay, that the new owners will welcome the opportunity of continuing this tradition.’   

Mr Jay made it very clear that he had hoped that the future owners would maintain the property’s iconic role. Pictured: One of the living room areas of the property

Mr Jay, who has called Lismore House (pictured: The kitchen of the property) his home for the past 27 years, said: ‘I was interested that local people, and hopefully people actually from Helston, would buy the property

The Grade II Lismore (pictured) is synonymous with the town’s Flora Day celebrations, and arrived on the market hours after the 2019 event, the last Flora Day that occurred due to the pandemic

Mr Jay’s revelation comes as statistics released earlier this year showed that although Cornwall has just one percent of England’s population, it has 17 per cent of the country’s second homes.

Locals have asked questions about affordability in recent years. House prices in Cornwall are some of the highest in the country, which has angered locals who say they cannot afford homes there. 

The resort of Megavissey boasts typical property prices of £300,000 – 20 times the average local salary.

A host of famous faces are also homeowners in the county – although they are not believed to rent their properties out.

Dame Judi Dench owns a house near St Ives, while celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay owns three properties – including a £6million mansion in the fishing village of Rock.

Data from Cornwall Council shows where the county’s 13,500 second homes were distributed in 2018

TV hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan have owned Steward House at Talland Bay, near Polperro, since 1998.

Rebecca Hemingway, from Fowey Folk Museum, said: ‘There’s nobody with a view of the sea that’s local — maybe one.

‘It’s too late to do anything about the second homes situation now — it would be nice for the community if there were more affordable homes. There’s a handful at the top, but not enough.’

Escape to the country: House prices of £2million properties in rural areas rise by the fastest rate in a decade

House prices of £2million properties in rural areas have risen by the fastest rate in a decade as wealthy people in cities hunt for countryside retreats across the UK.

Homes in the southwest, the Cotswolds and Scotland were the most popular as well as luxury properties in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Norfolk. 

While countryside homes like these have increased in value by an average of £111,000 (5.5 per cent), a similarly priced flat or house in central London went down in value by an average of £8,000 (0.4 per cent) last year.

Savills researchers believe the change in house prices came as the coronavirus lockdown meant people ‘sought a lifestyle shift and recognised the relative value on offer’.

The price shifts were recorded in the Savills prime house price index, which noted last year saw the biggest growth since 2010.

In the rest of the prime London market (defined as the top five per cent of the market), where £2million would typically secure an additional 1,000 square feet of accommodation and more garden space, gains averaged £36,000.

Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, said at the time: ‘The unique circumstances of 2020, have led to a surge in market activity at the top end of the housing market.

‘This has supported prices and delivered some unexpected gains, but it hasn’t resulted in runaway price growth.’

 

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