We didn’t get to know about the Fowey literary festival until too late to book for most events but this evening we went to the ‘Maggie Reeday & The Craig Milverton Trio: A Jazz and Blues Evening in Fowey Parish Church’, and very good it was, although the acoustics weren’t perfect it has to be said. Putting on my critical hat, as one who has organised hundreds of bookshop and festival events, the programme of events appears to have been excellent with a very good mix of local presenters (it was after all known for many years as The Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature), and nationally known celebrities and authors. Professor Grayling, Vince Cable, Prue Leith, Patrick Gale is to name just a few…..
Our garden grows lovelier by the day, and we now realise has been carefully planned to need very little maintenance considering its size. How lucky we are to be living here in this relatively unknown part of Cornwall and in this house! We have lived in many houses in all parts of the country from Devon to Northumberland (about 13?), but this must be at the top of the pile for enjoyment. In my wilder moments I say this is the sort of garden people might visit, but anyhow thank goodness we have it to ourselves. It’s very pleasant from all kinds of angles…
And of course our lanes around the house get lovelier too….bluebells to the left and ramsons to the right….and contain plenty of wildlife.
May, and all is well in the garden. This is our view from the living room. As far as I can tell this is very much a Spring and early Summer garden, so we might make efforts to create visual enjoyment at other times of the year. The statues are interesting. There were more believe it or not, but these two were cemented down and so couldn’t easily be taken by the previous owner. We thought we might regard them as something akin to gnomes (which we hate), but we’ve grown to love them. What we don’t know is who exactly they are. We call them David and Ariadne….but probably not! We continue our investigations. Today a visit to Lerryn for a walk along the river and in the woods. A truly beautiful little place where everything rotates around the river, called Lerryn here in this creek but soon flowing into the River Fowey. The walk is delightful, but next time we must extend it a little to call at St Winnow’s which is an historic church located more or less on its own on the river…an idyllic situation. That walk can be found on the excellent IWalkCornwall site….The woods were painted with swathes of ramsons. I’m pretty certain there will be woods around here carpeted with bluebells too, something to look forward to next year. Another big plus for the village is that it has a terrific pub the Ship Inn, and is in the Independent’s ‘Top 50 Pubs of Great Britain’. What a great end to a lovely day.
We ascertained there were several furniture shops and places for ‘style’ near Penzance so that’s the direction we took today. Lots to interest us. The best and of course most expensive place was Iroka….if you need some inspiration for re-designing your home it could be here. We then needed some relief from shopping (more accurately window shopping), so off we went for lunch to our favourite spot in St Ives – Porthmeor Beach Cafe. What you get is fantastic service, great fresh food at a reasonable price and the best view in the world. It’s absolutely a no-brainer for us to visit, and whatever time of year we come – March, July, October – the weather and of course the light for which St Ives is so famous never lets us down. After lunch, why a stroll on the beach…and who is to say this is not the Mediterranean? Whilst St Ives is always busy, there are many ways in which you can get away from the crowds, whether it’s getting a nice spot for lunch above everything, trying a different beach (there are several), or going for a walk on the Coast Path (you’ll soon be pretty much on your own). I have given this considerable thought, but I have to say St Ives is my favourite location in the whole world, and for me it always lives up to its billing. Opposite Porthmeor Beach Cafe is Tate St Ives, a most impressive structure, and there are literally dozens of studios to visit and browse. So the mind is catered for too. Utterly magnificent.
A National Trust day, and today we visited Antony which is nearby, being just near Torpoint. It’s one of those houses that doesn’t embrace you, and not one I would be in a hurry to return to were it not for the fact that the gardens are supposed to be magnificent with camellias, magnolias, azaleas and so on…maybe we caught it on a bad day? I did enjoy seeing the portrait of Charles 1 at his trial….although my head says I am a Parliamentarian, I always think I would have been a supporter of Charles. Somehow I feel a loyalty which I recognise I shouldn’t.
For lots of good detailed information see the Historic England site
Today we used our HHA membership to go to Tregrehan which ‘has been the home of the Carlyon family since the 16th century. The current occupier since 1987 is Tom Hudson, cousin of the late Gillian Carlyon. The listed house dates back to the late 17th century but was extensively remodelled in the mid 19th century.
The Park and gardens date largely from the late 18th century and are heavily influenced by the then popular “picturesque” style of landscape designer Humphry Repton. Also listed by English Heritage as being of national importance.
Later additions/alterations include a collection of notable trees and shrubs from the southern hemisphere, particularly New Zealand. A branch of the Carlyon family emigrated to NZ at the end of the 19th century and this connection aided the growing plant collection through the 20th century.
There is also a nationally important Camellia collection built up by Gillian Carlyon over 50 plus years.
Tregrehan is periodically also the venue for performances of open air theatre.
The Eden Project is close by and can be accessed on foot via the road through nearby Tregrehan Mills and then a footpath across adjoining fields.
A small history of the garden.
In a letter to Jovey Carlyon from Gilbert Rogers a Cornish forester based in India at Dehra Dun, N.W.Provinces, dated 1st July 1894 –
My dear Carlyon, It is so hot down here that I find it impossible to write decently. I only came down from the hills yesterday… I am writing to tell you that I have sent you a box containing some seeds of Quercus semecarpifolia in charcoal … the acorns may have all germinated on the way as they germinate here almost as soon as they fall to the ground but I hope that some of them, if they have germinated, will reach you alive. This species of oak covers the highest hills in Yarmsa & grows at elevations above the spruce & mixed with the silver fir, so should do well with you. It is very hardy grows very slowly & makes a fine tall straight stem if grown in close canopy….
This oak now stands proud at 25m height at Tregrehan. Veteran trees, oak and sweet chestnut survive since the first half of the 1600’s in the Park. Tregrehan garden is a woodland garden rich in exotic plants collected by enthusiasts from the early 19th century and continues today with Tom’s ongoing collection of unusual woody plants. In spring the excessive colours of camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias shout across the 20 acre valley. An extraordinary green-house (circa 1846) within the walled garden protects the more fragile species.’ We had a lovely time there and it is certainly one of
Having been within striking distance of Polperro we went there today using our bus passes, and the ‘normal’ bus we use for Looe one way or Liskeard the other. The route of the 73 is actually from Liskeard to Polperro. I said I would find out more about the Roman bridge. Here is the entry in ‘British Listed Buildings’…
‘Road bridge at head of Polperro harbour over stream. Remodelled after 1854. Stone rubble with dressed round stone arch with long granite keystone on harbour side.
Harbour side with parapet slightly splayed over abutments and continued to south to
form west wall of the harbour (qv). Narrow parapet on west side over stream running
between House on Props (qv) and coal sheds, now shops to south west.
An early photograph taken by Lewis Harding in circa 1854 illustrating a thrasher
shark on a cart in Polperro shows the bridge in the background. Here the stone
rubble bridge has a flat timber lintel rather than the present dressed stone arch.
Photograph of fish quay at turn of the C19 illustrates the present bridge in the background.
de Burlet, S Portrait of Polperro 1977 p 6
Lanyon, A The Rooks of Trelawne 1976.’
Another absolutely fantastic warm Spring day, the sea a Mediterranean blue. We climbed up to the top of the cliffs and had a short walk Westwards along the Coastal Path returning on a higher route. Plenty of gorse and wild garlic in bloom. Could be the South of France!
We’ve discovered a walk from the beautiful beach cafe in Talland Bay where you can take your tea and cake into one of the fitted-out beach huts when they are open (something we must do with visitors in the Summer). The route is along the Coast Path to Polperro, but as we only discovered this today when in the car, we explored to about half way having walked up the so-called ‘heart-attack hill’! Views superb as nearly always on the Coastal Path. You can just see Rame Head in the distance which more or less is at the boundary between Devon and Cornwall, and on a clear day you can see beyond to Devon itself…the peninsula at Salcombe.
On our usual walk from Looe to Hannafore we saw the ladies gig crew practicing. There are 3 gigs based in Looe and we often see them heading out to sea or if the river is full heading up-river.
‘There are over 29 Gig Racing Clubs around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly alone has 13 gigs.
The history of the Pilot Gig Clubs is from the days when vessels around the coast of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly needed a pilot to help them navigate their way through difficult waters to find safe harbour or negotiate a safe passage. The gig, a rowing boat for six oarsmen/women, would carry the pilot to the vessel. The pilot with his knowledge of the local sea conditions would then board and assist the vessel in its endeavours. The practice is believed to date from the 1700s.
Individual areas of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly would need more or less gigs depending upon the hazardousness of their part of the coastline. The Isles of Scilly, is especially notable for its involvement with gigs because of its geographical situation with numerous small islands and rocks clustered close to each other.’
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).