Wednesday, 28 September 2016


After lunch at the nearby Duchy of Cornwall Nursery of a

Lunch 1

Davidstowe Open Cheese sandwich (very good)

Lunch 2

and a Cheese and Onion Cornish Pasty (ok),

it was off to a National Trust Tudor House at Cotehele near Saltash on our way to Yeovil where we were staying the night.


Entrance path

Parts of this house date from around 1300 although the majority dates from 1485 making it one of the least altered Tudor Houses in England. As well as the house, there is a boathouse and boat on the Quay below and a working mill. Our first impression was of a beautifully kept and unspoilt house.

Inner Courtyard

Being the end of the season, it was reasonably quiet and there were not many visitors inside.

Cotiele House Entrance  Hall 1

Once in the inner courtyard, the door leads into an inner hall where hanging on the wall

Hall false arm

is a most unusual exhibit, namely a false arm made by armourers to replace one lost in battle. The National Trust website provides this additional story

Terrible injuries on the bloody battlefields of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries led surgeons to design elaborate prostheses for lost limbs. These were usually made by armourers and the moveable fingers in this mechanical vambrace can lock into place, enabling a soldier to grip his reins or sword.

It’s not known how this rare survivor of a brutal period in European history came to Cotehele in Cornwall, but in 1947 the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe related a story of his father’s late-night encounter with this most unusual piece of armour.

Awakened in the middle of the night by a sound of someone breaking a window, the Earl groped his way in the dark, searching for a pair of ancient pistols hanging on the wall of the Banqueting Hall. Suddenly, he felt his wrist tightly gripped by cold fingers. Grappling to free himself, he fled back to his bedroom in horror. The next morning, in braver mood, he discovered that the fingers belonged to the mechanical arm and that the burglar had been a cow, scraping her horns against the window bars.

Although the Earl was adamant that Cotehele was never haunted, others beg to differ and believe that this atmospheric Tudor house has more than a whiff of the paranormal about it.

When we were researching Cotehele after our visit, we came across a National Trust Website here (set for Cotehele) which enables you to search its collections for images and explanations about the various objects it cares for.

The Cotehele Tapestries

I shall remember the house most for its numerous Tapestries. Whilst I have seen them in better condition elsewhere (Houghton Hall comes to mind), the quantity and the way in which they are still an integral part of the original room was something to remember.

Dining Room 1

There is no electricity in most of the house  and hence we saw them with what little natural

Punch Room 2

light came in through the small windows on a late autumn day and also with the help of torches provided by the volunteer guides in each room.

Dining Room 2

A few of the tapestry have almost equally old mirrors in the middle of them.

Mirror in Tapestry

This tapestry is "Boys Pouring Wine" c 1670 possibly made in London.

White Room Four Poster Bed

Even the four poster bed in The White Room comes with tapestries. There is a lot to see here including a very old original tower clock. 

There is a comprehensive but concise description of Cotehele here and far more to see and enjoy than I have described.

A morning at Lanhydrock House

Whilst Pat was seeing a friend who lived in the area, I got to go to Lanhydrock House and it was very very impressive. My overall impression of the house was of a house frozen in Victorian times although parts of the house (the north wing with a long gallery) date back to the 1620s as does the gatehouse. The rest of the house was significantly damaged by fire in 1881. When it was rebuilt, Thomas Charles (the then owner) specified that he wanted “an unpretentious family home”, I am not sure he succeeded with the unpretentious part.

The Lanhydroch Journals provide a detailed history of the house and its owners - so detailed that only the dedicated will read them all.

L Gate and Wall

Much of the house is presented as the Victorian / Edwardian Country House used by the Robartes Family as their Summer House - they also owned Wimpole Hall (another National Trust property) in Cambridgeshire from 1740 to 1938.

Gate House

Passing through the 17th Century Gatehouse, here seen from the inside,

L Drive

you walk up a long drive leading to the original front porch

L Front Door

and just inside, as a taster to the clever way the National Trust have laid out the house are pictures of those people who lived in the house around whom the house is now presented.

L Family

They include owners of the house and servants. 

L Hall

This is the hall and it is furnished in a rather welcoming style and it is easy to imagine one has just arrived for a weekend stay.

L Dining Table

 The adjacent Dining Room is laid out for a formal meal

L Kitchen 1

and close by are the kitchens 

L Bakery

the bakery

L Cool Room

a cold room for cheese and other dairy products and anything else which needed to be kept cool plus many other service rooms. When it was rebuilt, many of the latest modern inventions were installed including a hot steam method of cleaning greasy pans.

L Typical Corridor

When I left “below stairs” (or more exactly, the back of the house) I was in a corridor leading to The Honourable Thomas Agar-Ronbartes room - the eldest son and heir whose determination to go to the Front in WW1 saw him killed at the age of 35.

L TARobartes Room 1

His valet has obviously just popped out for a moment because his  

L TARobartes Room 2

rooms are laid out just as if the valet had been unpacking.

L TARobartes Room 3

Over 50 rooms are open for visiting and it is impossible to record or comment on them all but I was taken by

Play Room

the Children’s Nursery / Play Room, 


their Bathroom,

His Lordship s Bedroom

His Lordship’s Bedroom which was separated from

Her Ladyship s Bedroom 

her Ladyship’s Room by a bathroom and two lockable doors (nothing so vulgar as always sleeping in the same bed !)

Her Ladyship s Tea Room

and her adjacent sitting room 

Her Ladyship s Tearoom 2

where she and her closest friends could meet for tea and cakes.

The Library 

If I was allowed only one favourite room, it would the the Long Library and its ceiling - a room which survived the fire of 1881. 

Library Ceiling

To describe the Library Ceiling as magnificent, is to do it an injustice. Not only is it magnificent, it is also an astonishing piece of craftsmanship with the whole of the Book of Genesis being portrayed in the ceiling.

One side has one story per picture - and in order they are:

Adam naming the animals

Adam naming the animals

Adam and Eve in the Garden

Adam and Eve in the Garden

Eve giving Adam the apple

Eve giving Adam the apple

Adam and Eve driven out of the garden

Adam and Eve driven out of the garden

Adam and Eve tilling the ground

Adam and Eve tilling the ground

Offering of Cain and Abel

Offering of Cain and Abel

Cain killing Abel

Cain killing Abel

Noah building the Ark

Noah Building the Ark

The entry into the Ark

The entry into the Ark

The Flood

The Flood

Noah giving thanks

Noah giving thanks

Abraham offering up Isaac

Abraham offering up Isaac

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

and then, perhaps when they realised that Genesis was longer than the ceiling space, the other side has two stories per picture frame

Rebekah speaking to Jacob  Kids

Rebekah speaking to Jacob and Jacob brings the kids to Rebekah 

Esau Hunting Isaac Blessing

Esau Hunting and Isaac blessing Jacob

Rebekah Talking Isaac talking

Rebekah talking to Isaac and Isaac talking to Jacob

Jacob Praying Jacob Dream

Jacob Praying and Jacob’s Dream

Jacob Oil Jacob meeting Rachel

Jacob pouring oil upon the stone and Jacob meeting Rachel

Jacob and Laban

Jacob and Laban and Jacob serving seven years for Rachel

Jacob with Leah

Jacob with Leah and Rachel and Jacob setting his wives upon camels

Laban in Jacob s Tent Jacob s Covenant

Laban in Jacob’s tent and Jacob’s covenant with Laban

Jacob Wrestling The Man of God

Jacob wrestling with the angel and The Man of God and Jacob

Meeting of Jacob Hamor

The meeting of Jacob and Esau and Amor and Jacob

Dinah Going Jacob setting out 

Dinah going and Jacob setting out for Bethel

Jacob Pouring Oil Burial Isaac

Jacob pouring oil upon the altar and The Burial of Isaac.

History does not stop here however. In a case to one side it the book which was used by Henry VIII to justify the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to (the pregnant) Anne Boleyn.

Ockham s Book

The book was written by William of Ockham who (and I now partially quote from the explanation given inside the case) was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher and theologian. It is known that the book was owned by King Henry VIII because in the top right hand corner of the flyleaf is written the number 282. This corresponds to its place in an inventory of the Upper Library at Westminster Palace taken in 1542.

After many years of marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII had no male heir. Having set his sights on Anne Boleyn, he unsuccessfully appealed to the Pope to annul the marriage.

Ockham had argued against the supremacy of the Pope. He maintained that in the case of a heretical pope (as he branded Pope John XXII, a view which might have been influenced by the fact that the Pope had excommunicated him) that a General Council could determine the outcome of King’s request.

Without going into a detailed explanation, because Pope Clement VII would not grant an annulment, the result was that in 1534, King Henry VIII and subsequent monarchs became the supreme head of the Church of England instead of the Roman Catholic Pope - essentially the formal beginning of the English Reformation.

It really is a superb house and well worth far more time than I could spend there.