we are john and sarah. we met in a very different world some time ago… we both worked for the bbc making children’s tv programmes. it was a fulfilling but busy life of pressure and occasional panic. home was a tiny basement flat with little light and noisy neighbours, but that was ok – we were rarely there as working hours were long.
then along came bella and everything felt different. we wanted time and fresh air and space with our new daughter, and so we started to hatch a plan. a year and a bit later we made our big leap. we picked up our lives and moved to devon where we stumbled across a magical woodland and knew then exactly what we wanted to do.
Protecting the land
of course, knowing what you want to do and actually doing it are quite different things. years of planning, saving, designing and dreaming followed. we wanted to share the woodland, to make it a place for others to escape to for a little while. but we cherished the space and knew whatever we put in there needed to be very special indeed.
we also knew that we had to tread lightly, we wanted to protect the land and its inhabitants. sustainability was not negotiable. we must do all we can, in any small way, to secure a wonderful wild planet for our future grandchildren. we could find nothing remarkable enough to be worthy of our woodland, we needed something new and that’s when john met kristoffer.
kristoffer tejlgaard is a danish architect based in copenhagen. amongst his many skills he is a master of all things ‘dome’ and the perfect collaborator on our design journey. kristoffer shares completely our green ethos and understood immediately the need for something that would belong to the wood while having no impact on it at all. several designs followed (including something special that we will one day return to!) and many trips for john and kristoffer between denmark and devon. and then, from one of kristoffer’s designs, the truffle was born.
the truffle is a truly unique space. every panel of wood has been cut, sanded and stained here in hatherleigh, and then lovingly pieced together by hand on site at honeydown. and, because they are semi-permanent structures sitting on ground screws, they can be removed without trace when their job is done. we named these buildings ‘truffles’ as they’re coveted, round, rare and precious and they are surrounded by glorious oak trees.
Our woodland home
some friends thought us completely bonkers for taking on this project. we stuck with our policy of making it as difficult as possible for ourselves by starting construction of the truffles during one of the wettest months on record. we opened to our first visitors in august 2021 and we have absolutely loved welcoming people here since that date.
we’re still on a learning curve, we will never stop learning as the woodland has so much to teach us and there are surprises at every turn. and we still have plans, so many plans, for our very special unique woodland home.