|Cotehele House & Gardens|
Cotehele means the wood in the estuary and is a beautiful National Trust property set amongst the steep wooded banks of the River Tamar. The Edgcumbe family acquired the estate by a marriage to Hilaria de Cotehele in 1353 and it remained in their possession until 1947 when the National Trust took it over. The granite Tudor House was built (between 1485 and 1539) on the site of an earlier mediaeval house of which some sandstone walls and windows remain. There is a mediaeval dovecote and stewpond situated in the steep valley garden. Walking through the upper garden will bring you to Prospect Tower built in the 18th century with fine views over the surrounding countryside. The entrance is by a 15th century medieval tithe barn which has been converted into a National Trust restaurant and shop. The house is unlit by electricity and contains fine furniture and tapestries with a magnificent Great Hall and lovely chapel. The chapel was first consecrated in 1411, and was re-modelled in the early 1500s. During this re-building work a clock was installed in an alcove that was added into the west wall of the chapel. This clock is acknowledged to be the earliest turret clock in the United Kingdom still working in an unaltered state and in its original position. Some authorities suggest that the Cotehele Clock may well be the oldest working turret clock in the world. It has no face, but is attached to a bell in the turret above which strikes the hour. Instead of a pendulum it has a foliot-and-verge mechanism. This is a horizontal bar with weights at the end, which swings from side-to-side. The superb collection of tapestries that hang in all the main visitor rooms cover a huge range of subjects from daily pastimes to Roman myths. Light levels are kept low within the house to preserve the delicate fabric of these tapestries.
The intimate garden is a treasure trove of plants thriving in the mild Cornish climate. Many of the trees, shrubs and plants are labelled and there are many plant guide sheets within the gardens. There are 12 distinct areas including two orchards, the most recent being the"mother orchard" which is an effort to preserve many traditional varieties typical to Cornwall and Devon for future generations. Whatever the time of year, there is always much to explore. If you walk down through the lower garden you can take a walk through the woods to the river bank and Cotehele Quay. The upper gardens around the house are more formal with terraces.