HOUSES AND GARDENS
Hartland Abbey and Gardens are only one mile from Hartland Quay (near Clovelly). Visitors may wander around the beautiful gardens and grounds which lead to the rocky cove. Peacocks and guinea fowl roam at will, whilst donkeys and black Welsh Mountain sheep graze the Old Deer Park. Hartland Abbey is the lived-in home of the Stucley family and contains collections of pictures, furniture and porcelain. Seehartlandabbey.com
DOCTON MILL, HARTLAND
This is situated near the Spekes Mill Mouth coastal waterfall and beach. The water mill originated in Saxon times, and has been cleared, creating ponds and leats; foot bridges were built over the river and many smaller streams. A swampy area has been drained to make a stream and marsh garden with ligularias, primulas and ferns. Everything is as natural as possible. In spring there are narcissi, camellias, primulas, magnolias. In summer there are old shrub roses and perennial geraniums. See doctonmill.co.uk
Four miles northwest of Bodmin and surrounded by beautiful gardens, this house has been occupied by the Molesworth family and their descendants since Elizabethan times. A guided tour around the 50-room Georgian mansion reveals a superb collection of antique furniture, paintings and porcelain. Pencarrow is approached by a magnificent mile-long carriage drive through an Iron Age hill fort. Around the Palladian mansion are Grade II* formal gardens. They include a large Victorian rock garden and ice house, 50 acres of parkland, lake and woodland with more than 700 varieties of rhododendrons and many camellias, as well as a Celtic cross. Seepencarrow.co.uk
LANHYDROCK HOUSE AND GARDENS
These are located 2.5 miles south east of Bodmin. Superbly set in wooded parkland of 1,000 acres and encircled by a garden of rare shrubs and trees, Lanhydrock has fifty rooms open to view. Through the crenellated gatehouse, dated c1641, you can take an idyllic walk down to the River Fowey at Respryn Bridge and back through the woods. See nationaltrust.org.uk – Lanhydrock
THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN
They may not be lost any more but they are certainly hard to find! Travel south from St Austell on the B3273 towards Mevagissey. Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious estates in England. It offers over 200 acres for exploration. Visit the Victorian Productive Gardens, the romantic Pleasure Grounds, the pioneering Wildlife Project, lush sub-tropical jungle and much, much more. See heligan.com
This is in Mawnan Smith, near Falmouth, and provides a sub-tropical paradise with a stunning coastal backdrop. It is one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall and is rated among the 80 finest gardens in the world. See trebahgarden.co.uk
THE EDEN PROJECT
This is at Bodelva, near St. Austell. In the Rainforest Biome you can trek through the steamy rainforests of Malaysia, West Africa and South America – it is the world’s largest conservatory. In the Mediterranean Biome you can take a journey through the Mediterranean-type climates of the world, including those of South Africa and California. The Core is the name of Eden’s Education Centre, a fantastic building that has become an inspirational hub for events, exhibitions and learning for everyone. edenproject.com
We warmly recommend this Elizabethan manor house buried in verdant countryside near Newquay. Its yellow-grey stone, pretty Dutch gables, authentic furnishings and well-restored gardens make for a delightful visit. We enjoyed its peace and quiet but we gather that Tudor-style family activities are laid on some days – so it’s well worth checking the web-site.
Originally a rich Cistercian Abbey in the fertile Tamar valley, this estate was bought by local hero, Sir Francis Drake, with the money gained from his buccaneering exploits. The Abbey buildings have been much altered over the years but remain very attractive, as Rupert and Chris demonstrate. What interested us most was the Great Barn, one of the largest in the country and proof of the plentiful produce the Cistercians gained from their 20,000 acres.
In contrast to Buckland Abbey, Cotehele has been little altered since medieval times. Even furnishings, such as the weaponry in the entrance hall and the tapestries in the dining room, are original. We could well imagine the Edgecombes living in this stone manor house after they acquired it in 1353 – especially as at some stage of their occupation they included certain members of the Brendon family. Below the house are the remains of an old quayside on the Tamar as well as a working Victorian water mill where you can often buy freshly milled flour and newly baked bread.
Originally a 17 th century mansion, Lanhydrock was substantially refurbished by the wealthy Robartes family in the 19 th century – although we could still walk through the old crenellated gatehouse. Today it provides a wonderful lesson in Victorian and Edwardian country house life “upstairs, downstairs and in my lady’s chamber” before the First World War brought it all to an end. The young heir, the daughters’ potential husbands and many of the servants lost their lives and the family lost Lanhydrock. You will need plenty of time here as the estate covers 900 acres of gardens and woodland and includes its own church.
This estate, with one of the most beautiful settings in the country overlooking the Fal estuary, belonged to families whose wealth derived from Cornwall’s once important tin mines. As well as admiring the view from a convenient stone bench, four members of the Brendon family wandered around the stunning gardens but were not lucky enough to arrive on a day when the house itself was open. That will have to wait for another visit.