An insight into a famous ruin – which will hopefully breathe life once again.
An Article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
I am always trying to get you to get off of your sunbeds, hire a car and see some of this beautiful, strange island. Often there is no explanation for some the buildings that you can visit. But, here is one I am often asked about. It is known locally as the ‘Casa Del Ingles’.
When you drive from Corralejo and follow the inland road to La Oliva Village, you will go through another small village known as Villaverde. On route you will pass the two fabulous windmills that dominate the hillside on the right of you, that recently appeared in the film Don Quixote. About a kilometre further on, you will see a large ruined building, covered with purple graffiti, also on the right hand side of the road. It is located on a patch of ground called “Sitio de Don David” and its signpost reads ‘Casa Del Ingles’ which means The house of the Englishman.
WARNING – DO NOT ENTER!
Unfortunately the house is now in a serious state of disrepair and you cannot enter it anymore. The warning sign outside tells you that it is in danger of collapsing, so if you are going to visit, keep a wide berth. Its current state is such as shame, as It was once a fine and very grand building with a busy and very confused history.
THE CAMANCHO FAMILY
What I do know about it is that It was built around 1760 on Church land. It was originally called as Cercano de los Canones and built by Julian Leal Scicillia, an agricultural agent and native of La Palma who was dedicated to agriculture and trade between the Canary Islands and America. He married a local lady who was a part of the Camacho family. When you look at the ruin, it is hard to tell, but there are actually two houses and not just one. They are a good example of the type of architecture that was once favoured by the rural bourgeoisie and they were designed to show off their wealth and power. And, if you are in any doubt of this, then look upwards as they even had a castle type crenellation added to the top of the walls.
What we know about the family is that in 24 years of marriage they had 10 children. He became successful by exporting grain from La Oliva. His wife died and he married again and this time had another 4 more children. He died in 1822, aged 92. After this death, the two houses were converted into one big house, with a central courtyard containing a large water tank. After the conversion, an English naturalist called John Parkinson rented the house. He had come to the island to study the flora and fauna of the Canary Islands, which were still quite unexplored at that time. He had a staff who helped him and lived in the house alongside him and soon the house became known, by the locals, as The house of the English or Casa Del Ingles. He died in 1868 aged 75.
After the Englishman, the house was used for many different purposes and was even a coaching stop for a while. But it was just too big a house for the locals to maintain. After the Spanish civil war in 1939, one side became a rest home for Franco’s soldiers and the other, training facilities for the nurses. It had been bought partly by Pedro, the son of the last colonel from the grand children of Juan Scicillia, but with so many children from his marriages, it was hard to share it out amongst them. So for the last 100 years it has been abandoned and, unfortunately due to mismanagement by the council over the years, has been allowed to turn to ruin with little or no chance of restoration in the near future. This is such a shame as this house really does have a great story to tell and really should be saved.