We are determined to get the maximum use from our National Trust and Historic Houses Association cards this year, so today it was a trip to Cotehele, just North of Plymouth on the river Tamar. Here is the Historic England background description to the house (for more detailed information about the house and estate see HistoricEngland )……’Cotehele belonged to a family of the same name until 1353, when it was acquired through marriage by William Edgcumbe (d 1379). In the late C15 and early C16 an existing house was remodelled by Sir Richard Edgcumbe (d 1489) and his son, Sir Piers (d 1539). Sir Richard Edgcumbe supported Henry VII against Richard III and was handsomely rewarded after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 (guidebook). A mid C16 plan of Cotehele (CRO)shows two parks, together with orchards and enclosures around the house. In the mid C16 Sir Piers Edgcumbe built a new house and enclosed a park at Mount Edgcumbe, Cornwall (qv), which was subsequently adopted as the family’s principal seat. Cotehele was occupied on an occasional basis, except for a period during the Civil War in the mid C17 when Colonel Piers Edgcumbe (c 1610-67), a supporter of the Crown, returned to the house, which he then occupied until his death. Col Edgcumbe’s son, Richard, was knighted in 1662, while his grandson, also Sir Richard (1680-1758), was created Baron Edgcumbe in 1742 for his political support for Sir Robert Walpole. It has been suggested that the first Lord Edgcumbe, a keen antiquarian, began to furnish Cotehele in a consciously antique style in the 1730s (CL 1990). An estate plan of 1731 by William Doidge (CRO) shows walled orchards to the west of the house, a bowling green to the south, and further enclosures to the east and north. In 1781 the second Baron’s younger brother and heir, George (1720-91), was created Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort, and in 1789, Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. The first Earl was a close friend of Horace Walpole, and, like his son, the second Earl (1764-1839), a member of the Society of Antiquaries; Cotehele was visited in 1781 and 1789 by King George III and Queen Charlotte. On the death of the third Earl in 1861, his widow, Caroline Augusta (1808-81) moved to Cotehele; the house was renovated and partially remodelled, and improvements were made in the gardens, including the re-routing of a road to the east of the house (plan, CRO). Following the death of the Countess Dowager in 1881 the house was occupied by the fourth Earl’s sister, Lady Ernestine (d 1925). Piers, fifth Earl (1865-1944) also lived at Cotehele from 1941 following the destruction of Mount Edgcumbe during the Second World War. In 1947 his second cousin and heir, Kenelm (1873-1965), sixth Earl, passed Cotehele to the government in lieu of death duties. The estate was subsequently passed to the National Trust, in whose ownership it remains today (2000).’
We were lucky to have a magnificent Spring day for our visit and, as you can see, a wonderful Spring display in the garden. The house and grounds are magical, the setting above the Tamar incomparable, and there is loads of interest including 2 orchards with dozens of local varieties of apple (indeed the whole area around here used to be a big market garden area for exporting fruit, veg and flowers to London) and a hillside walk through banks of camellias and azaleas. We also found the art shop to be excellent displaying high quality pottery, paintings etc by local makers and artists. We bought a wonderful ‘flat’ vase here and a bronze-mix nude…they have some very unusual pieces (especially for a National Trust shop).