The Captain's House
The Captain's House is a large detached house located at the bottom of Mallams, and within the proximity of the villages of Chiswell and Fortuneswell, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The house, together with the attached wall to the south east, has been a Grade II listed building since September 1978. It is not to be confused with another Captain's House on Portland, in Castletown, a large detached house, adjoining Portland Castle.
The large detached house was formerly one of the grandest houses in the Underhill area, however it had remained in ruin for over a hundred years.
The Captain's House is said to date back to the mid-18th century and has been subject to local stories for many years. It stood in ruin for over one hundred years before being privately renovated in the late 1990s. One story stated that the house belonged to a sea captain who was building the house from him and his fiancée, but her death left the house unfinished in his grief. The second story is that the house once belonged to Dr Motyer who was known for exploiting the local's ignorance of medicine over a century ago.
According to a self-published report by stonemason Nigel Copsey, who was involved in restoring the building, the last known resident of the house was John Comben Lano - a quarry agent to the Weston family who had seemingly built the house sometime after 1666. Some historic records had held the house to date from the 1750s, which was largely based on the Gibbsian portico design. However, other sources reveal that those features were added after the original construction of the main body of the house. Comben Lano died in 1866, two years after having been given the house by the Weston family, whilst archive photographs reveal a roof still intact in 1870. By 1895, however, the roof had gone, probably sold for its timbers. In between times the shell accreted a variety of lean-to structures and the remaining ruined rooms were variously used as stables and a forge, whilst the cellar was filled in.
In 1995, work to restore the house began. By October 1998, the Bedford family had moved into the house. The project has been much applauded locally and regionally. Some responses from local people as to whether or not it should have remained a romantic ruin has been the subject of debate. However, the house restoration project had provided a more than comfortable home for the Bedford family, who financed the project themselves, using traditional materials and construction techniques.
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