Sold for £80k: lighthouse beach that inspired Woolf

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The Independent Culture

The Cornish beach that inspired Virginia Woolf's novel To The Lighthouse has been sold for £80,000. A private buyer from London who originally hails from Cornwall bought Upton Towans beach in Gwithian, complete with a view of the Godrevy Island lighthouse, at auction.

All the proceeds will go to the Hall for Cornwall theatre in Truro because Dennis Arbon, a trustee of the performing arts venue who has owned the beach for the past 19 years, wants the sale to be of benefit to the people of Cornwall.

The guide price for the 76 acres of beach near Hayle was £50,000. Woolf's novel, published in 1927, was set in the Hebrides but drew on her childhood holidays in St Ives, where she stayed at a house from which Godrevy Island was visible. A landmark of early 20th century literature, Woolf called her most autobiographical work “easily the best of my books”. She used the money garnered from sales to buy a car.

Planning restrictions mean the new owner is not allowed to build on the land or excavate minerals.

The auction generated interest from the US and Russia, and a three-way bidding war was conducted by telephone. A spokesman for estate agents Colliers CRE said: "The winning bidder now has their own 71 acres of sands and five acres of dunes to play with. Not many people can say that."