White Horses was built in 1938 by Lewis Brown, who had bought the land at Trebetherick Point from Ernest Betjeman, the Poet Laureate’s father – he had imposed a covenant on all new building that each house should cost no less than £2,500, to ensure quality.
White Horses was built for Lynam Thomas, a master at Rugby School. He was there with his family when war broke out in September 1939, and though he returned to Rugby during term-time to continue teaching, his wife Peggy and their two sons remained in Trebetherick for about eighteen months. Lynam’s son Nigel recalls being told later about the night of the false invasion alarm in November 1940 when all the church bells were rung throughout the country: Commander Bannerman (father of Lady (Sheila) Walsham) came over from Rock and threw pebbles up at Nigel’s parents’ bedroom window, calling out, “Thomas, Thomas, the Germans are coming, do what you can to protect your wife and family!”. On some nights during the war Lynam Thomas would sit in the porch of White Horses with a rifle and ten rounds of ammunition, said to be the only rifle along ten miles of coastline. Nigel also remembers that barbed wire was set along the clifftop from Polzeath to Daymer, and scaffolding poles as anti-tank protection across both beaches.
Nigel went to school in the Atlantic House Hotel in Polzeath, where West Hill had been evacuated. Fellow pupils included Laurence Grand (Coolgrena), David and Roger Gaunt and others. They were driven there by car, but usually walked home. (Roger Gaunt later became a clergyman, and founded the St Endellion Festival – his daughter Kate still owns St Enodoc Cottage.)
Like Ralph Barlow of Stepper, who was a house master at Sherborne, Lynam Thomas arranged for parties of boys from his house at Rugby to help with the harvest in the summers of 1942 and 1943. They stayed for a couple of weeks in bell tents in the grounds of the house and in the next field, and rode off each morning on their bicycles to local farms, including Pentire Glaze. The house cook came with them from Rugby, and the boys ate their meals in the garage of White Horses. Because of the plethora of schoolmasters with houses there, Trebetherick became known as Beaks’ Row (or Beaks’ Bay, or even Beaks’ Point – depending on who you talk to!).
White Horses remained in the Thomas’ ownership until the late 1960s. Peggy and Lynam had met at Cliff Bank; Lynam was Joc Lynam’s cousin, and Peggy was a friend of Joc’s sister Audrey – they had nursed together at Paddington Green Hospital in London.
Michael and Jenny Regan bought White Horses in 1968. Jenny’s father had served in the RAF at St Merryn during the war and at that time his family lived at Trevone for two or three years, later spending summer holidays in the area. But Jenny preferred the safer bathing on the north side of the Camel. She remembers surprising Peggy and Lynam when she and her husband went to view White Horses, approaching the house on foot from the cliff path with their son Tim in a backpack. Jenny also recalls with admiration Peggy’s cliff-top vegetable plot, but has given up the unequal struggle against the elements.