Magical dream of transforming ‘ordinary home into something extraordinary’ set to be realised

PUBLISHED: 08:13 02 August 2014


A 25-year project to transform an ex-council house into “something extraordinary” looked set to collapse just 17 months before it was due to be finished.

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But with the help of the Broadcast, the magical and eccentric dream of one man – who now has a following of thousands – looks set to be realised after being saved at the 11th hour.

Twenty four years ago, John Trevillian set out to turn a very ordinary three-bedroom house in Newton Green, Great Dunmow, into a labyrinth of different locations from different times, which will be eventually become a trust.

But earlier this year, the 49-year-old found himself out of work and unable to afford the £2,500 monthly running costs of keeping Talliston House and Gardens alive.

Mr Trevillian launched an ambitious campaign, featured in the Broadcast, to raise the £250,000 needed to complete the project by October 2015.

He also put the house up for sale, hoping someone would buy it and allow him to continue his vision.

Two days before the month-long campaign ended – with a generous £6,000 donated by loyal supporters, but still a long way short of the target – Mr Trevillian was handed a much- needed lifeline when he was offered a job as a project manager at Pearson Education in Harlow.

He said: “When this all happened I was not able to sleep for two weeks because Talliston is like a child, it could not save itself. I was terrified.

“I feel really proud of everyone who has helped save the house, it could not have been done without them. I knew that I was employable and I could get a job but these things are unknown. I did not know how long it would take.

“When I found out I got the job I thought ‘that’s it, I have done it’. I have taken up my part of the Save Talliston campaign. That was on my to do list and I did it.”

Mr Trevillian’s story attracted worldwide press attention – including live appearances on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and articles in The Sunday Times. He also received countless letters of support from people all over the world.

His highlight was when a group of children, who had just been to Disneyland, said the house, which is home to 1,650 objects and antiques from 27 countries, was better than the iconic attraction.

He added: “The way this house has touched people has just been incredible. Even people who have been unable to donate have offered their time to help.

“This has been such a positive experience and I think it shows that Talliston needs to be done.”

From November 1 the house will be closed to the public so Mr Trevillian can complete the project on the date originally planned.

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