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Secular Retreat

Sleeps 10

In South Devon, between the resorts of Salcombe and Hallsands lies a landscape of rolling hills, wooded river valleys, patchwork fields and small villages of old stone houses. It is here Living Architecture invited one of the greatest architects in the world, Peter Zumthor, to create Secular Retreat. 

During Your Stay



If you incur any injuries while on holiday, please let us know. Please see below for Emergencies, and Hospitals for details of your nearest Accident and Emergency Unit.


As is stated in our contract with you, we cannot accept more than 10 people and 2 infants (under 2) in the house.


There is a music player unit on the library shelves. This can be used for playing CDs, internet radio, streaming sites and is Bluetooth enabled for streaming from your personal devices.


If you happen to break anything, please leave a note, as it assists our House Manager in replacing items during the limited change-over period.


If you have requested use of the car charger, the cupboard outside, that houses the unit (and where you found the key to the house), will be left unlocked.

These instructions on using the SecuriCharge unit are also printed large on a laminated sign, kept in the cupboard with the charging point:

Use the key in the lock at the side of the unit to unlock the magnetic flap(s) covering the charge point socket.

Insert your charging cable into the vehicle first and then insert the other end into the charging point socket.

Ensure the status indicator changes to a fixed green light.

To disconnect: remove the plug from the vehicle first then remove the plug from the charging point socket; this allows time for the lock to disengage in the socket.

Ensure the flap over the charge point socket is closed; turn the key.


Our Housekeeping team will come in after your departure to make the house ready for the next guests (see Departure below) and although we don’t expect, nor want, you to clean, it would be hugely appreciated if you could leave the house in a good condition.

If you do need to clean the house during your stay, please only use the products that we have left under the kitchen sink, otherwise you may damage some of the surfaces.

In particular:

There is a dust pan and brush, as well as a vacuum cleaner in the laundry room, which you are welcome to use.

Please wipe clean the hob (it cleans very well with water).

The floors are natural stone (main space) and timber (bedrooms) and although they are sealed, they are susceptible to staining, therefore we would appreciate it if you could wipe up any spillages.


We encourage all our guests to compost all suitable material. The composting bin can be found by the bin and garden store.


Contact number:  07734 323464
(Mon–Fri, plus emergencies).

Our usual hours of operation are within office hours, Monday to Friday.

If you require a prompt response please telephone this number. Please do not email, text or tweet as these means of communication are not monitored out of hours.


We have provided an espresso pod machine and compostable pods to get you started. We also provide cafetiere's and filter coffee. 


You probably don’t want to think about the end of your holiday just yet, but on the day of your departure please do make sure that you leave the house by 10am. We need time for the house-keeping team to get the house ready for the incoming guests.


The nearest doctor’s surgery is: Chillington Health Centre, Orchard Way, Chillington, Kingsbridge TW7 2LB


Please do not fly drones in the area as they disturb local livestock and upset the neighbours.


Please dry any wet outdoor clothes in the utility room, where there is both a condensing dryer and a drying rack for your use.


Should the power trip out at any time during your stay, you will find the consumer fuse box in the cupboard located in the Guest WC - see also EMERGENCY page near the front of this manual.

In the case of power supply disruption to the area, this can be checked on the UK Power Networks

You can register for updates by texting POWER TQ7 2NL to 80876

NB: In the event of a power cut, the WC flush may not work as the water is pumped from the rain-water harvested tank.


If you need to call the emergency services, they will require the full postal address:

Secular Retreat, Chivelstone, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 2NL


There is a fire extinguisher in the wardrobe unit by the front door and a fire blanket in the cupboards near the hob.

However, for anything serious, we would rather you close all the doors (providing it is safe to do so), evacuate the building and contact the fire service.


If a fuse blows, the consumer fuse box is inside the cupboard in the guest WC: behind the door is a ‘push’ panel, which opens to reveal the fuse box. Open the see-through door and reset the trip switch. If the power trips again please call the Contacts telephone number.


If you need access to turn off the water, the stop tap is located in the Plant Room. To gain access, please ring (see Contacts for details).

See Hospitals section for medical emergencies.

See Contacts for other emergencies. 


A simple first aid kit is located in the cupboard above the oven. Please leave it out if you have occasion to use it.


The open fire in the sitting room burns the self-burning logs provided or seasoned logs. Both should be burnt on the grate with a bedding of ash.

NB the fire can burn with its doors open, but we advise that if using the extract hood above the hob, you should close the fire doors to avoid smoke being drawn into the room.

Please make sure that the fire screen is placed in front of the fire when the fire doors are open or the fire is unattended.

Please close the doors before retiring to bed.

Matches can be found on the shelf next to the fireplace.


Secular Retreat sits in a rural location and as livestock are often in the surrounding fields, fireworks are not permitted.

In addition, Chinese lanterns are not allowed as the wires and bamboo supports can be eaten by cattle and cause injury.


The garden and landscaping at Secular Retreat has been created by local design practice the
Rathbone Partnership, providing a combination of lawns, border planting, hedgerows and wildflower meadow.


Secular Retreat is heated through both an under floor wet system (main space and bathrooms), and low temperature radiators (bedrooms).

There are three thermostats in the main space and corridor. We have set these at the optimum temperature and times, based on our experience of the house.

Under floor heating is an efficient way to heat modern buildings as all the heat generated is delivered into the house.

Please be aware that it takes a while for heat to be re-established once turned down or off, therefore we recommend that if you want to reduce the temperature you do so gradually a few degrees at a time.

The fire provides additional heat in the sitting room – see Fireplace above.


The nearest hospitals are:

Accident and emergency - Torbay Hospital, Lowes Bridge, Torquay TQ2 7AA. Tel. 01803 654 003

Minor injuries clinic - South Hams Hospital, Plymouth Road, Kingsbridge TQ7 1AT. Tel. 01548 852349


Hot water (for both heating and from the taps) is produced by the use of a heat pump taking warmth from coils buried deep in the ground, in combination with an efficient immersion heater to boost the water temperature at times when the heat pump alone cannot produce enough hot water – night-time and winter for example.

This means that there should be a readily available source of hot water, provided that not everyone takes a bath, fills the sinks, or takes a shower at precisely the same time.


We have included here in this manual information on how to use the simplest functions of the electrical appliances, but should you need the detailed instruction booklets, they can be found in a black box on the shelves in the sitting room.


When you enter the house, you will find a spare front door key on top of the island in the kitchen. 

On final departure, simply lock the front door and place the master key in the key safe where you found it on arrival.

The spare front door key should be left on the kitchen island where you found it.


Please try not to leave anything behind when you leave the house. If you do, unfortunately Living Architecture cannot accept liability.

Lost property will normally be disposed of if it is not collected within 6 months. Living Architecture may charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs of storage, handling and postage


Secular Retreat is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is surrounded by agricultural land, for both livestock and arable use.

At certain times of the year the house can be subject to the sort of conditions that come with its rural location. This might include insects, flies and the odd field mouse, especially when crops in the area are cut or harvested.

Please respect the countryside and local residents at all times.


Please park your vehicle(s) in the graveled area provided. The stone path leading to the front door should not be driven on.


Sadly no pets are permitted to stay or visit Secular Retreat. Please make sure that you and any guests to the house respect this. 

Due to their locations, we are able to accept a dog at Shingle House in Kent, Dune House and Balancing Barn in Suffolk, Log House in Norfolk and Life House in Wales.


In order to meet the requirements of the local authority, please sort rubbish using the bins in the kitchen according to:

Dry recyclable waste
(Tin, paper, card and plastic)

Glass waste (Clean glass)

General waste


When the bins in the kitchen are full, please transfer to the labelled wheelie bins found in the bin store adjacent to the driveway.


Non-slip shower mats can be found in the wardrobe in each bedroom.


Most mobile providers operate in this area. However, telephone reception can be limited in the house itself (although text and other forms of data tend to work effectively). You may have to stand outside to get the best reception for voice services.


The TV and DVD player can be found in the cupboard opposite the library shelves. They are fixed on a small unit with wheels.

Pull out the unit and wheel to the other side of the concrete column. From the back of the unit, pull out the two white cables, one for power the other for the satellite connection – the sockets for these are on the column. Use the remote control to operate the TV. The TV is connected to the WIFI.


Your contract with us is bound by the terms
and conditions to which you have agreed.

These can be found at

To help preserve the high standard of our houses, and for insurance purposes, we want to remind you not to allow anyone into the house except for those guests who are actually sleeping in it – please do not invite additional visitors (unless you have made a prior arrangement with Living Architecture).


You will find a set of towels for each person
in the bathrooms (but please do not use these outside or as beach towels).


As there is strong interest in Secular Retreat, we have found that people have occasionally been turning up asking to look round the house.

In the interests of your own privacy and security, we urge you do not allow this.


Please note that to reduce the water consumption at Secular Retreat, the WCs are supplied with rain harvested water. At different times of the year this can have a brownish hue.


Secular Retreat is set up with Wi Fi. However please note that due to its location - and for reasons beyond our control - internet access can at times be intermittent.


Our policy is to clean the windows periodically
but, due to the elements, it is not always possible to keep them clean between these times.



Bosch - BOS-CMG633BB1B

The touch buttons either side of the circular control (in the centre of the control panel) can be used to select a function.

The circular rotary control is the means of selecting more detail of the function required such as the temperature, time and so on. Press it lightly and move in the direction required. The display in the centre will indicate the function selected.

The On/Off switch is located to the left of the control panel.

Microwave function:

You can use a type of heating that is also combined with the microwave operating mode. Possible combinations include:

■ 90 watts + 4D hot air

■ 90 watts + Hot air grill

■ 180 watts + Hot air grill

■ 360 watts + Hot air grill

Touch the Þ field. The combination is highlighted in white in the display.

Turn the rotary control to set the required combination.

Touch the } field. The temperature is highlighted in white in the display.

Turn the rotary selector to set the temperature.

Touch the s field. The cooking time is highlighted in white in the display.

Turn the rotary selector to set the cooking time.

Press the Start/Stop button to start. The cooking time counts down in the display.

NB: the wire rack found in the unit is safe to use in microwave function.


Bosch - BOS-HBG674BB1B

The touch buttons either side of the circular control (in the centre of the control panel) can be used to select a function.

The circular control is the means of selecting more detail of the function required, such as the temperature, time and so on. Press it lightly and move in the direction required. The display in the centre will indicate the function selected.

The On/Off switch is located to the left of the control panel and the Start/Stop switch to the right.

Once the appliance is switched on, the default operating mode is displayed.

You can start this setting immediately using the
Start/Stop button.

Touch the appropriate field. The symbol lights up red.

Turn the rotary selector to change the highlighted selection.

If necessary, apply other settings. To do this, touch the appropriate field and change the value using the rotary selector.

Press the Start/Stop button to start.

For full instructions, please see the instruction manual (which can be found in the kitchen drawer next to the ovens).



The hob has sensitive electronic sensors that react to finger contact.

The hob is switched on by touching the symbol of a circle with a line through it. A signal sounds and the touch displays light up.

Touch the symbol for the hotplate you require. The setting will appear, then swipe your finger over the settings area to select the heat setting needed.

To adjust the settings, touch the symbol for the active hotplate and the display will reappear.

To deactivate a hotplate, switch it off.

Please note that induction hobs only operate when in contact with a suitable (induction) pan.

Please do not press the sensors indiscriminately as this can cause the unit to go into demonstration mode. If this happens, refer to the manual for instructions and should that fail, switch the hob off at the wall for 5 minutes.

COOKER HOOD (above the hob)

Bosch - BOS-DID09T951B

The hood can be switched on manually or by using the remote control, found in the top drawer. The switch with the round circle turns the extractor on and off. Use the + and – buttons to increase or decrease the speed of the fan.


Bosch - BOS-SMV46IX00G

A few dishwasher tablets have been left for your use, in the drawer beneath the kitchen sink.

Once the machine is loaded, ensure that the spray arms are not obstructed. Please note
that there is a cutlery drawer for long utensils at the top of the machine as well as a cutlery basket beneath.

Switch the machine on. Select the required programme using the programme selector button.

Quick troubleshooting: if the machine will not start, check the door is fully closed. If no lights are on it may have tripped the power and a reset is required – see Emergencies or Electricity.

Please do not put wooden items such as chopping boards into the dishwasher.


Bosch - BOS-WAT24421GB

The programme is selected using the round control. There are additional function buttons to the left of the round control.

Check the instruction manual for more information on the various programmes.


Bosch - BOS-WTN85200GB

The dryer is operated by using the round control on the control panel.

Select a programme and use the buttons to the right for any adjustments you require to the drying operation required.

Information correct as of May 2023

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