The house was built in 1911 by Allan Hughes, one of the last great independently minded nineteenth-century ship owners. Starting in a shipping office after he left school, he later established the Federal Steam Navigation Company and took over the New Zealand Shipping Company. Both companies were engaged in the meat trade with Australia and New Zealand - their vessels dominated the trade with the Antipodes - and were the first to introduce refrigeration into the holds of ships. The company was taken over by P&O of which he became a director, looking after his own ships, and was still chairman of the New Zealand Shipping Company at the age of seventy-six!
Mr Hughes used to rent a house at Chapel Knap, Porlock Weir, for the stag hunting and would look across to an orchard lying under the woods opposite and say, "That is the place to build a house; there is always a patch of sunlight there." Eventually he bought the land (about forty acres) from the Clarke family, converted an old cart shed into a cottage (later to become the gardener's) and the house was built by John Cooksley, a local builder, from plans drawn up by the architect C.H.B. Quennell in the Lutyens style. (Quennell is perhaps best known for his many volumed History of Everyday Things which he wrote with his wife, Mary, and which has been a standard reference book in every school library for decades).
An old ledger titled Daily Account of Labour and Materials at Lynch Mills, and running from Monday 19th September 1911 until Friday 1st August 1913, is held in the house. It lists the materials used in building the property: endless loads of stones from Hawkcombe, slates from Treborough, millstones from Porlock, gothic latches, bricks from Alcombe (archangel red), bullnose blue bricks, Norfolk latches, stones from Lynch Combe and quarry, three hundredweight of hair for plaster, Ham Hill freestone, thumb latches, alabaster rock from Blue Anchor, Bristol tiles, Dutch tiles, millstones from Moles Farm Estate, Devon grates, old beams from Luccombe, locking latches (LCC pattern), copper runners and ballbearings. One day's labour account shows nineteen men at work: eight masons, five carpenters, a painter, a plumber, a thatcher, a man with a horse, two boys and four more horses.