THE TIMES – When Gabriella Wilde and her husband first contemplated a move to the country, the actress and former model was hesitant. Now, standing in the revamped kitchen of her Somerset home, blonde ponytail swishing as she makes herbal tea, she couldn’t be more content.
If it wasn’t for the relocation, she might never have bagged a role as the coquettish Caroline Penvenen in Poldark – her minxy antics have been thrilling the 5m-plus viewers of the drama’s second series. Nor would she have given birth to her second son in the master bedroom suite (“The builders had to put up scaffolding to hold up the birth pool. They obviously thought I was completely mad”), or have an immaculate designer farmhouse.
Hillhouse, her rambling home, is set in glorious countryside just outside Bruton. A turning takes you onto a gravelled drive where you are greeted with spectacular autumnal views; you can just about make out King Alfred’s Tower amid the fields and trees. Through a nondescript arch, you enter a wild, overgrown garden set within a courtyard, then a grey door leads you into the quirky property that Wilde, 27, shares with her musician husband, Alan Pownall, and their sons, Sasha, 2, and Shiloh, five months.
Formerly three cottages, now conjoined, the property was on the market for œ1.3m in 2015, but with the help of a local property finder, the couple bought it for a little more than œ1m. “This was the first one we both felt was right,” Wilde recalls. “The view was incredible – I came in and was shocked by it. You can see for miles. It’s really a special spot and it has a calm energy.”
The peace and quiet was soon disrupted by an extensive year-long refurbishment, under the guidance of the interior designer Sophie Ashby. The layout was reconfigured and the downstairs living area, which has an Aga, a woodburner, a fireplace and radiators, is now free-flowing yet cosy. “I’m someone who hates being cold,” says Wilde, who is dressed in a black poloneck jumper, spray-on grey jeans and chunky black boots.