The Vine

Below the theatre on the left you will find an area called Glen Sannox.  The remains of both a house and a garden can be seen by closer inspection.

The property that stood here was originally built in the 1820’s.  During its life span the house went through several name changes, the Vine, Vine Cottage and in the 1890s it became Glen Sannox.  The property consisted of the main house and also a coach house and office.  The property was known as the Vine according to the 1851 census and occupied by a Thomas Deane.

Vine Cottage late 1860s. Painting attributed to Emmeline Trimmer.


In the late 1860s Clement Madely Smith bought Vine Cottage.  He had previously lived in London after a career spent as an M.D and Surgeon with the 1st Punjab Calvary, of the Bengal Army.  He was quite a character.  He was especially proud of his beard, indeed after his first wife died at the age 19 of Cholera in India, it was said that he grew it almost to the ground.  Apparently, he usually carried his beard rolled up in his waistcoat. On one occasion whilst at a review of yachts at Cowes, Queen Victoria allegedly asked him to expose the beard.  He was wounded in the Indian Mutiny but generally enjoyed the typical life of an army officer during the heyday of the British Raj.

On his return to England he re-married, but his second marriage was also short lived.  In 1861 his wife Laura died in childbirth and he was left with their young daughter also called Laura who had survived.  Shortly afterwards, Emmeline Trimmer the daughter of a clergyman was engaged to help look after Laura.  As a result of his wife’s death Clement inherited her previous husband’s considerable fortune which enabled him to retire from the Army.

In 1870 Clement Smith married for a third time.  He and his new wife settled at Vine Cottage but also owned property in Cornwall.  By 1881 the family had moved to Argyll Hall in Warren Road Torquay.  Clement Smith died in 1907 aged 79 years after outliving all three of his wives.

During the 1800’s there were around 5 Summerhouses or Whims built on the hillside at Babbacombe where Noblemen and Gentlemen would take tea with their ladies.

In 1890 the then owner renamed the house Glen Sannox.

In 1920 the Council purchased the entire Glen Estate (including Glen Sannox) and formed a café from the old buildings on the beach.  The house became Babbacombe Court and an employee: Mr Robinson, Head of Parks Dept became the resident.  The café was destroyed by fire in 1928 and has been replaced a couple of times since.  Efforts were made to maintain the property but by the 1950s it had become derelict and had deteriorated to such an extent that it was deemed to have become hazardous.

The house was demolished in the early 1960s.  Many local children played there during the 1950’s claiming it was haunted.