Oliver's Cornwall
Homes
All with gardens open, too
Lanhydrock
Mount Edgcumbe
Pencarrow
There may be many fewer homes open than gardens but what there are provide plenty of interest -  from medieval St. Michael's Mount, Tudor Godolphin and Cotehele, through Georgian Antony and Pencarrow, to part Tudor part Edwardian Lanhydrock.   Favourites are Antony for its sheer elegance and woodland garden, Cotehele for its antiquity, gardens and location, Pencarrow for its family's fight to keep it going, Trewithen for a charming guided tour.  Private homes (*starred) mostly have obligatory guided tours;  National Trust are self-guide with docents in each room;  Mount Edgcumbe, owned by Plymouth city, is self-guide.  Our preference is self-guide;  guides can get too personal.

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ON THIS PAGE

Antony & its Garden
*Caerhays Castle
Cotehele House
 Godolphin House
Lanhydrock
Mount Edgcumbe
*Pencarrow
*Port Eliot
*Prideaux Place
St. Michael's Mount
Trerice
*Trewithen

CORNWALL REVIEWS INDEX and SITE CONTENTS

Introductory Guide
What's New?
Oliver's Cornwall Walking Pages
Homes
Gardens
Museums & Galleries
Countryside
Holy Sites & Churches
Antiquities
Castles
Towns & Villages
Miscellanea
Home Page
Contact Me
© Copyright Oliver Howes 2017
Page updated 12 January 2017


Antony House, Garden and Woodland Garden

Antony House is the ancestral home of the Carew Poles who have been here since the late 15th century.  Their present home is a charming early Georgian mansion - but with more Christopher Wren to it than the Robert Adam.  Contents, though of no great significance, are most enjoyable - portraits by Reynolds (a local man closely associated with Saltram House in Devon), sporting paintings by Sartorius, Chinese Chippendale furniture, Waterford crystal and Ming dynasty figures.  Gardens by the house are pleasant and varied - at one end of an avenue there is an unexpected temple bell from Mandalay - but the best of the garden is the separate Woodland Garden (unlike the house, not National Trust but still owned by the family), a hundred acres with a National Collection of Camellias, the (for Cornwall) inevitable rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias and glorious views over the Rivers Lynher and Tamar and across to the tiny harbour of Anthony Passage.  Anthony House is on the Rame Peninsula, in the far south-east of Cornwall.  It is accessible also by ferry from Plymouth on the the Devon side of the River Tamar;  a car ferry runs from Devonport to Torpoint, a passenger ferry runs from Stonehouse to Cremyll.  In addition to a shop there is also a tearoom but, if you enjoy a pub, best places to eat nearby are the Edgcumbe Arms in Cremyll and the Halfway House in Kingsand
Elegant south front of Anthony House
2 miles NW of Torpoint. More Images - Antony Garden and Estate
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More Images of Antony - Garden and Estate
The garden is not really large enough to justify a visit for itself only.  It is, however, well worth allowing the time to look round the garden after you have seen the house.  The views from the terrace at the north front of the house are superb:  to the north, avenues offering vistas to the River Lynher;  to the east a long avenue leading past a red brick dovecot to a distant temple.  The garden itself has a summer garden, a knot garden, a yew walk, topiary of a bell and a tepee, and a colourful small pool guarded by a heron sculpture.  At the far end of the yew walk is a temple bell from Burma, flanked by Japanese granite lanterns.  Maintenance is all you would expect from the National Trust.
Antony, pool and dovecot from the North Front
View to Antony Passage from the Woodland Garden
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Caerhays Castle

The Caerhayes Estate has only changed hands once in over 600 years.  But for the profligacy of the man who built the castle, it might not have changed hands then.  The Trevanions acquired the estate - stretching from Portloe to Mevagissey - in 1370.  Nothing is known about the homes they built until, around 1805, John Bettesworth Trevanion hired architect John Nash to build the present house.  Nash's extravagance bankrupted Trevanion and the entire contents of the castle, even the lead off its roof, were sold.  Eventually John Williams - major Cornish mine owner and banker - bought it in a state of dereliction in 1855. 
I took the guided tour in April 2005.  I cannot recommend it.  Our guide felt compelled to entertain us with irrelevant anecdotes and personal asides and, though good on the history, offered us little information on the contents.  Portraits include works by Reynolds, Romney and Cornishman John Opie.  Paintings include Dutch, animal paintings, seascapes and watercolours of the Williams family's former Scottish estates.  All that remains of Trevanion days is a portrait of a Chesapeake Bay retreiver.  Chinese porcelain looks good.  The house is high-ceilinged and light but one feels restricted by the narrow boardwalk between tightly roped-off areas.  Library and Drawing Room are most attractive.  The old billiard room is now museum and gallery - interesting material but you can't linger.  Anyway, the garden is the real attraction here.
From A3078 Tregony-St. Mawes, follow signs Portloe then Caerhays
Caerhays from the driveway from Porthluney Beach
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Cotehele House

We had last been at Cotehele in 1988 so, on a glorious sunny March Sunday in 2003, we decided to re-visit, as we have many times since.  Set high above the broad River Tamar, Cotehele was in the Edgcumbe family for 600 years until gifted to the National Trust.  There is a lot to see  - the House, two Gardens, Cotehele Quay - with a small maritime museum and restored Tamar Sailing Barge - and a working water mill.  Thanks to the Edcumbes building a new mansion in 1553 on the Rame Peninsula opposite Plymouth, Cotehele remains a little altered Tudor manor.  Its small-scale but rambling interior is furnished mostly with Jacobean oak.  Walls are hung with rich tapestries and bedrooms have handsome four-poster beds with crewel-work hangings.  Highlights include a massive 400-year-old walnut veneered cabinet with Adam and Eve carvings, an ornate mirror painted around 1700 by Boldini and, in the White Bedroom, a 1688 mirror bordered by entertaining stump-work .  There is a short introductory film and a good restaurant and shop.  In the east wing there is an art and craft gallery.  Try to avoid dull days as the National Trust believes in low light, in order to conserve ancient textiles and paintings. 
 Cotehele - the front entrance to the house
Location:  signed by lanes from A390 2 miles W of River Tamar
ON THE ESTATE   On the quay on the River Tamar is a Discovery Centre, updating the former museum with contemporary displays about the estate.  Nearby is the restored Tamar sailing barge Shamrock.  By the limekilns, the Edgcumbe Arms serves teas and light lunches.  On the lane towards Bartlett's Bridge is a restored Water Mill with working waterwheel and machinery milling organic flour. There is also a display about a new hydro-electric scheme.  There is a dovecot in the spring gardens and, on the path leading to Calstock, is the Edgcumbe Chapel of 1485.  The walk along the Tamar to Calstock is mostly on the estate, easy going and very pleasant.
See also Cotehele Garden
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Godolphin House and Estate
The Godolphins were one of Cornwall's great families, wealthy from tin and copper mining and influential at court, but their home degenerated to farmhouse after the line died out in the early 18th century.  In 1937 it was bought by Philadelphia Impressionist artist Elmer Schofield.  For 70 years the Schofield family struggled to maintain and restore Godolphin but in 2007 it passed to the National Trust.  Inside is fine 16th and 17th century English furniture, a good collection of Windsor chairs, and the paintings of Elmer Schofield and his son Sidney.  The famous Wootton portrait of the Godolphin Arabian racehorse, one of three from which all thoroughbreds descend, was once here;  sadly no longer.  We first visited in May 2003, admired the ancient buildings, enjoyed the open part of the house, tended by aged docents, and had a glorious walk.  We revisited in 2006 and again in April 2007. We were back again in 2009 to check on progress of the house under the National Trust and to see how restoration of the important medieval garden is going.  Also in April 2007 I had a delightful walk from here taking in both Godolphin Hill and Tregonning Hill.  It is well worth visiting Godolphin at bluebell time, the woods are absolutely carpeted with them. 
The colonnading is repeated inside the courtyard
Jane in the bluebell woods at Godolphin
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Lanhydrock House, Garden and Estate

Lanhydrock is  the National Trust's most visited Cornish property, though many visitors are locals who come just to enjoy the extensive parkland and woodland gardens (if all you want to do is walk in the park, a public footpath runs through).  As a result, the house is rarely as busy as the car park may suggest.  The ancestral home of the Robartes family has every appearance of a great Tudor mansion but only one wing is original;  the rest was rebuilt in entirely sympathetic style after a disastrous fire in 1881.  Inside, the Victorian rooms are impressive but for us the most enjoyable feature was the remarkably preserved 'below stairs', from where dozens of servants ran the house with military precision.  There is a small church behind the house, carefully tended formal gardens between the gatehouse and the house, spring gardens behind the church and hilly woodland gardens, filled with bluebells in spring, running down towards the River Fowey.  Lanhydrock is just to the south of Bodmin and easily accessible from the main A30 highway (it is well signed).  There are two restaurants - one in the house, one in the courtyard - and a good shop.  Parking is a long way from the house but a golf buggy operates a shuttle service for those not wanting to walk. 
See Countryside page for Walks on the Estate
Lanhydrock House
Location:  signed off A38 near Bodmin, immediately E of A30 junction
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Mount Edgcumbe

Tucked away in the far south-eastern corner of Cornwall, on the Rame Peninsula overlooking Plymouth Sound, Mount Edgcumbe House and its attached Earl's Garden are little visited.  On a sunny Saturday in early September 2004, we had it almost to ourselves. What brings people here, many from Plymouth across the water, is the country park and 'formal' gardens, where entry is free.  We had previously enjoyed the park and walked the coast path to Kingsand.  This time we included the house, built by the Edgcumbes of Cotehele in 1553, largely destroyed by World War II bombing and partly rebuilt after the war.  Now owned by the city of Plymouth, this is museum rather than home.  Little remains of family things, but what is here is well maintained and displayed.  Furniture includes a fine Boulle chest and an inlaid display cabinet filled with porcelain.  There are many family portraits and some Italian landscapes but the best of the paintings is the collection of Van der Velde nautical pictures.  Downstairs consists of great hall, drawing and dining rooms, library and octagonal sewing, card and smoking rooms in the corner turrets.  Upstairs - mostly given over to historical displays about family, estate and war - has a charming suite of bedroom, dressing room and bathroom:  pity about the modern taps on the bath.  There is a café in the Orangery, another near the house.  Park and formal gardens are free;  there is a fee for the House and Earl's Garden.
Mount Edgcumbe House and Parterre Garden
See also Mount Edgcumbe garden and the estate
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Pencarrow

Pencarrow is our local 'great house' (our friend Caroline was a guide there) yet we first took a house tour as recently as 2004.  The fine Georgian house is the home of the Molesworth St. Aubyns - a branch of the St. Aubyn family formerly of Clowance and now of St. Michael's Mount.  It has some good furniture but it is the paintings and the porcelain that stand out:  landscapes and sea-scapes, portraits by Reynolds, and collections of Meissen, Sevres and Worcester.  Our guide was terrific but we felt that the tour was rather too long at an hour and a quarter. Gardens are at their best in May for the rhodos, azaleas and bluebells though the recent 'Mole's' stream garden will be good in all seasons.  The tea room, though small, is good but, if you choose to eat outside, you should beware peacocks.  There is normally ample parking in a courtyard away from the house, where there is also a shop.  The long drive to the house is through lovely beech woods, filled with bluebells in spring, and passes through an iron age fort, a great bonus for those who enjoy antiquities.  Our recommendation would be to visit this charming place in late spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas in delightful gardens are at their best.
Signed from the A389 between Bodmin and Wadebridge
Pencarrow House, the south front from the park
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Port Eliot at St. Germans
When the 9th Earl of St. Germans died in 1988 the inheritance taxes due were unaffordable.  Eventually a deal was done with government accepting 23 paintings, including 14 portraits by Joshua Reynolds, a local man.  They remain in the house but have to be shown to the public on 100 days a year.  Sensibly the family decided to show not just the 'gift in lieu' paintings but also much of the house and all its gardens and grounds.  This is a most impressive place, acquired by the Eliots in the 1540s, at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and now owned by the 27th generation.  The Grade I listed house is partly by Sir John Soane and much of what you see is his work.  Most striking is Soane's Round Room, its walls covered with a superb but unfinished mural by the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz.  Contents include fine furniture, among the highlights a Louis XIV Boule armoire, a Carlton House desk and Louis XIV and XVI clocks.  There are too many portraits for our taste but there are also works by Van Dyck, some good nautical paintings and boat models and a casually displayed collection of old lace.  The atmosphere is of a much loved and happily unpretentious family home, its grandeur a little faded and worn.  The Repton park is also Grade I.  We enjoyed wandering the woodland, with its daffodils, camellias, rhodos and hellebores, and walking down to the broad River Tiddy. 
House and grounds open afternoons March to mid-June
Pool and classical temple near the house
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Prideaux Place at Padstow

Home to the Prideauxs (now Prideaux-Brunes) since Edmund acquired the property at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Prideaux Place looks from the outside like an ivy-clad minor Robert Adam castle.  Inside it is a riot of totally unexpected of Strawberry Hill Gothick with pendant plasterwork in brilliant white, only the Great Chamber and Grenville Room not conforming.  In the former a superb 16th century plasterwork ceiling tells the story of Susannah and the Elders; the latter has an interior brought from Stowe House near Bude, demolished in the 18th century.  Contents include armorial Worcester porcelain, heraldic glass, painted panels by Verrio and Cornish artist Alec Cobbe.  Our favourite rooms are the Morning and Drawing rooms, charming, comfortable, well lit and clearly in family use.  Gardens are under restoration and there are exhibitions in the stableyard, where you should walk through the dairy to see its gothic disguise.  Long views east across Prideaux's deer park take in Rough Tor and Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor.  When we first visited in July 2004 we parked at Daymer Bay, walked to Rock and took the ferry over the Camel estuary, lunching first at Rick Stein's fish and chip shop.  If you park in Padstow, you can walk up the hill to Prideaux Place though there is parking by the house.  One serious criticism:  our chatty Welsh guide told us too much of  himself, too little of  the house!  In the grounds are a Cornish Cross and St. Petroc's Holy Well.
Prideaux Place, the crenellated and ivy-clad east front
Location:  Above Padstow town, signed off A389 from Wadebridge
January 2008:  Major restoration work is taking place in the gardens and grounds, led by Tom Petherick, one of the leading figures in the restoration of the 'Lost Gardens' of Heligan.  This includes re-opening woodland walks and clearing and replanting large areas.  A Formal Garden, lost for years, has been re-created in a simpler manner than the original. Review of our visit in July 2008.
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St. Michael's Mount and its Garden

The first sight of St Michael's Mount is breathtaking;  the house seems to grow out of the rocky bluff that tops the tiny island.  Access is unusual;  at high tide by boat, at low tide by a long stone causeway from Marazion.  The path to the house is winding but steep and rough.  A place of pilgrimage from AD495 when fishermen claimed to have seen St. Michael, in the early 11th century Edward the Confessor founded a Benedictine monastery;  at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it became a fortress.  In 1659 it was acquired by the St Aubyns of Clowance (related to the Molesworth-St. Aubyns of Pencarrow) and became an unusual home;  the family still lives here but the house is in the care of the National Trust.  You would scarcely expect to find a garden at all on such a small, steep rocky island, exposed to gales.  None the less, a 20 acre 'Maritime Garden' covers terraces below a 300 foot cliff.  Planting is mostly of weather tolerant exotics.  Amongst great granite rocks are yuccas, agaves, geraniums, hebes, fuchsias and, in spring, wild narcissi.  The garden is not National Trust but opens under family auspices on less days than the house.  Allow a half-day for the time to and from the island, an exhibition and movie, the most enjoyable house and the steep garden.  The National Trust has a good restaurant just above the attractive little harbour. 
St. Michael's Mount - Storm Approaching
Location: off Marazion, 3 miles E of Penzance;  park in Marazion
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Trerice - A Small Cornish Manor near Newquay

Trerice must be one of the National Trust's smallest homes.  A former seat of the Arundells, well connected Cornish gentry, also of Efford in Bude and Lanherne in St. Mawgan, it is a charming unspoilt stone built E-shaped Elizabethan manor, with Dutch looking gables, some elaborate plasterwork ceilings, good oak and walnut furniture, a fine collection of clocks and some good porcelain.  Paintings include portraits of the Stuart royal family and others by local man John Opie.  The garden is small but pleasing;  there are herbaceous borders, climbers, cottage garden plants and an orchard.  A stone barn houses a lawn mower museum;  nearby a piece of sculpture is assembled from lawnmower parts!  The location of Trerice is unexpected;  only just outside Cornwall's busiest holiday and surfing resort, Newquay, yet so tucked away down narrow Cornish lanes that it might be in the middle of nowhere.   A word of advice for motorists.  Beware narrow Cornish lanes!  What seem to be hedges on earthen banks actually hide rock walls - this is the dreaded 'Cornish Hedge', notorious scraper of paintwork.  There is a tearoom in a barn.  There is ample parking fairly close to the house. 
Trerice and its gardens revisited 2007
I prefer this more domestic west front of Trerice
Off A3058 St. Austell-Newquay, 4 miles SE of Newquay
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Trerice Revisited 2007
Our last visit to Trerice was, we think, in 2002.  The exterior of the house remains, not unexpectedly, unchanged since then.  The contents have changed a little, unsurprisingly since the house came to the National Trust with only the great oak table in the Great Hall;  all else is from other National Trust sources or on loan.  The Great Hall now has an exhibition laid out on the massive oak table;  it includes copies of Arundell and Coswarth family memorial brasses - more copies are in a little brass-rubbing centre in the rear courtyard.  The most admirable thing that has arrived here since our last visit is a superb collection of Georgian glassware, well displayed in the Drawing Room.  We found the guides in the rooms little changed and as helpful as ever. What did seem to have changed quite a bit since our last visit was the gardens, which have expanded.  Borders in the courtyard at the east front have filled out and the borders between there and the orchard were looking really good, colourful and well filled.  Behind the great barn there are now tables on the Mowbray Terrace for the tea room inside.  Below the terrace is a new Elizabethan garden.  As well as the house and garden we revisited the mower museum;  what an amazing collection - but Lord Screwloose (the sculpture) was nowhere to be seen.
The Elizabethan garden at Trerice
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Trewithen

Philip Hawkins, wealthy Cornish attorney, acquired the estate in 1715.  He employed London architect Thomas Edwards to build a new house and began a woodland garden to set it off.  Descendants profited from Cornish lead, silver, tin and china clay.  By marriage, Trewithen passed to the Johnstones in 1841;  it was plant hunter George Johnstone, inheriting in 1904, who created the superb shrub garden that you see today.  By marriage again Trewithen is now home to the Galsworthys.  The view of the house from the south, framed by an avenue of magnolias and rhodos, is quite superb.  The excellent 40-minute tour shows just five rooms:  the small attractive Library, the dark-panelled Oak Room, the warm and comfortable Drawing Room, the Dining Room and the Smoking Room.  Grandest is the Dining Room with its Ionic columns, rococo plasterwork, Imari ware and family portraits.  Elswhere all is small scale, comfortable and very family-oriented.  Contents include superb oriental porcelain, Chippendale chairs, good clocks and a desk and travelling tea-caddy once owned by Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore fame, connected to the family by marriage.  Portraits are by Reynolds, Ramsey and Romney and fine nautical pictures include a Van Der Velde.  There is a 30 minute movie and an estate exhibition.  There is ample car parking;  a tearoom serves rich cakes and pastries and cream teas.  
In January 2017 I was surprised to learn that remote Golden is part of the Tewithen Estate.
Trewithen House seen across the south lawn
On A390 St. Austell-Truro at Probus, 7 miles east of Truro
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CORNWALL REVIEWS INDEX and SITE CONTENTS
Introductory Guide
What's New?
Oliver's Cornwall Walking Pages
Homes
Gardens
Museums & Galleries
Countryside
Holy Sites & Churches
Antiquities
Castles
Towns & Villages
Miscellanea
Home Page
Contact Me
© Copyright Oliver Howes 2017
Page updated 12 January 2017

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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