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© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
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This Ex-Council House in Essex has an Unbelievable Secret Hidden Inside

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 2 April 2017
A labour of love, this seemingly ordinary ex-council house has been transformed over the past 25 years by author John Trevillian into a completely unique self-made house that The Sunday Times dubbed ‘Britain’s most extraordinary home’. The fairytale-esque Talliston House & Gardens will now be open to the public for tours so you can experience the magical interiors for yourself.
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan

It all began with a three-bedroom semi-detached property in Essex 25 years ago, bought by a man who couldn’t even wire a plug but had great aspirations for his home. Each room or garden is infused with a rich narrative that captures a period of history, ranging from 4000 BC to 2228 AD, incorporating more than 1,800 objects sourced from around the world.

© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan

‘Talliston is designed as a place where time has no power, akin to stepping inside a living, breathing work of art,’ explains owner John. ‘It is a massive enterprise, and proves that beauty and magic can be found even in the most ordinary of places. And by being included in Invitation to View’s impressive list of historical marvels of architecture, it is a true testament to what our team has achieved.’

© Gavin Colnan
© Gavin Colnan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan

Maintaining the property’s original layout, the house was painstakingly transformed room by room by John and his growing team of artists, craftspeople and volunteers. The house and gardens showcase 13 locations, each set in a different time and place so each time you enter a different area of the home, you have a new fantastical experience.

© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan

Highlights include the castle-style stairwell, a 1920s New York-style office, the Japanese conservatory and bedrooms inspired by Gothic horror stories. It costs £15 to visit Talliston House & Gardens, which includes a two and a half hour guided tour plus tea and cake. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this unique property. To book your slot, click here.

© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan
© Gavin Conlan