Cornwall

Cotehele, near Saltash

The ancestral home of the Edgcumbe family for 600 years, Cotehele House takes pride of place high above the sinuous River Tamar near Saltash. Bedecked with elaborate tapestries sown together for quirky appeal, historic weaponry hung boldly on the walls and period oak furniture, much of this Tudor home-come-time-capsule has been lovingly preserved over the centuries.

A fortified manor house, Cotehele’s high vantage point was appropriated to provide natural protection from skirmishing armies. Developed and moulded over the years, the Edgcumbe family’s play-house is a real architectural melting pot, re-modelled in the 1500’s and further adapted between 1750 and 1860. For architects and those with a keen eye for construction, it is a visual feast inside and out.

A great day out for all the family, Cotehele has four floors worth of antiquities and relics to capture your interest. Yet, despite the wealth of treasures betwixt its rambling stone walls, one feature draws particular attention. Standing at over 2.5 meters tall, a pair of enormous whale jawbones guard the doorway of the Great Hall. Present for 150 years, the origin of these jawbones generated many questions, until the chance discovery of archival paperwork revealed important clues…

Once you have explored the various rooms and solved the whale bone mystery, the next part of the adventure leads you outside. A sprawling patchwork, the estate comprises a whopping 1,300 acres. Planted terraces, manicured gardens, fruit-laden orchards, tangled woodland and wild meadows are but part of the beautiful, natural playground waiting for you to explore. Superb all year-round, the the gardens are especially beautiful in spring, awash with colour and the heavenly scents of floral perfumes.

When you are ready, venture down to the historic Cotehele Quay alongside the River Tamar, where the site’s Discovery Centre, tearoom and the Victorian Tamar sailing barge 'Shamrock' await. A small museum, the Discovery Centre provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Quay, with exhibitions and displays accessible to all generations. It is also, importantly, where you will hap upon the first pixie door on the pixie door trail!

When you are ready for replenishment, the licensed Edgcumbe tearoom on the quay is the perfect spot for a tasty homemade lunch or full Cornish cream tea. A family and dog-friendly café, all the family can savour a reviving pause before continuing Cotehele’s journey of discovery.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in South Cornwall here.

Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash PL12 6TA | 01752 662271 | www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

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