Beniguet is one of the houses in Trebetherick which has stayed in the same family for almost seventy years.
The house was built in 1934, the first on the cliffs above Trebetherick Point, by Mr and Mrs Greenshields, apple farmers from Somerset. They had to build a drive from Daymer Lane to reach it, because access was refused from the cart track on the cliffs. All these houses were designed by the same architect and built to withstand Atlantic gales; they had to be white, slate roofed, with wood floors and staircases, and cost £1500 to build. The Greenshields named Beniguet after an island off the Brittany coast where they had previously spent happy holidays; it means ‘Blessed by God’. Having built Drumtarlie to be nearer the sea, they decided to sell Beniguet.
Beniguet was bought in 1940 by Mrs Pamela Gott, wife of (then) Brigadier WHE Gott, known as ‘Strafer’ Gott, serving with the Seventh Armoured Division in the North African campaign. She and her elder daughter Elizabeth had recently returned from Cairo so that her younger daughter Jennifer could be born in England.
At the beginning of August 1942 Lieutenant General Gott, CB, DSO, MC was appointed by Winston Churchill as Commander of the Eighth Army, but on 7th August the aircraft in which he was flying back to Cairo from the battle area was shot down by German Messerschmidt fighters, and he was killed. He has been described as “one of the most popular generals of the North African campaign, and one of the few whose reputation remained intact during the defeat and retreat of May and June 1942.” He was succeeded by General Montgomery – ‘Monty’. General Gott’s name is recorded on the roll of honour and War Memorial at St Minver.
His widow and two young daughters spent the summers of the war years at Beniguet, filling the house with children, nannies and war widows who loved the peacefulness of Trebetherick. Daughter Elizabeth remembers the barricades on Daymer beach and Polzeath, but nevertheless playing on the beach with other children, and walking everywhere because of petrol rationing. One of these visitors to Beniguet was Gill Huddleston, whose father was an army friend of the General’s; years later after her marriage to Professor Nikolai Andreyev she bought The Hut from the Walsham family, which her daughter Katya still owns.
When the Greenshields sold Drumtarlie they kept part of the field on which it stands, but then in 1956 wanted to sell it, and Pam Gott bought this land to protect it from development and preserve access to the clifftop. The family subsequently donated their share of Fishing Cove Field and the rocks below to the National Trust, along with the Jeffreys at Doom Bar House and the owners of Drumtarlie. The Greenshields themselves went to live in Scotland, where they built another house also named Drumtarlie.
Pam Gott gave Beniguet to her daughter Elizabeth (Mrs Taylor) as a wedding present in 1964, and the family have continued to spend holidays there ever since. When Pam herself died in 1985 her ashes were scattered at St Enodoc. Elizabeth’s daughter Fiona was married at St Minver in 1995, and the reception was held in a marquee in Beniguet’s garden.