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Cothele House

cothele house

Step Back in Time at Atmospheric Cothele House

Resting in the emerald green Epiphany Valley sits Cothele House, a fine medieval manor passed down 15 generations and still owned by the original aristocratic family, the Edgcumbes. From Tudor great halls to historic formal gardens, this National Trust estate allows visitors tantalising glimpses into 900 years of secrets, scandals, triumphs and tragedies at the ancestral home.

The mellow-stoned mansion brimming with heirlooms surrounded by nature’s beauty makes for an intriguing heritage day out for families wanting to vividly discover captivating tales from times past.

cothele house cornwall

Getting There

By Car

Cothele House is two miles northwest of Saltash just off the A390 near Plymouth. Well signed from Callington and Tavistock roads, it has a large parking area.

By public transport

The closest bus stop is in the village of Calstock. Take the Transport for Cornwall bus service number 79/79A service from Callington/Tavistock and stop at the bus stop on Calstock Quay. The train will also run from Plymouth to Calstock.

Walking

There is a 1½-mile stroll from Calstock, meandering along the picturesque River Tamar and ascending a steep hill through the enchanting woods. Just follow the signs, and if you’re visiting in the winter months during late afternoons, it’s advisable to bring a torch

Opening Times

The house and gardens open daily mid-March to November 1st from 11am to 4.30pm. Winter weekends only opening, although there are more opening times in the Christmas holidays. It is best to check the website first.

The wider estate’s nature trails, cafe and shop stay open longer into evenings with year-round access.

cothele quay

Ticket Prices

Entry prices to uncover Cothele’s history are:

  • Adults: £10.50
  • Children: £5.30
  • Family: £26.20
  • National Trust members free.

Storied House Tours

Don atmospheric gloves on touch tours to gracefully handle precious 17th century tapestries, finely detailed miniature family portraits or discover tales linked to artifacts like an 800 year old monks’ paddle steamer!

In imposing state rooms, learn secrets about Tudor intrigues the Edgcumbe family become embroiled in or how Victorian industrial inventions like photography arrived at the manor. From altar cloths to corsets, Cecil the costumed guide brings collections alive.

cothele drawing room

Gardens and Grounds

Nine peaceful acres await exploration including spectacular summer borders teeming with lavender and roses to formal parterres surrounding the Great Lawn and tranquil River Tamar.

Tree trails inspired by Narnia plus classically influenced ornaments reference history from Grecian gods to the Great War through intriguing artefacts dotted amidst Cothele’s varied greenery.

The gardens at Cothele House are as integral to the estate as the 15th century manor home itself. Gardens have graced the banks of the River Tamar here since at least the early 17th century. Today, visitors explore formal and informal garden spaces totaling over 30 acres in size.

In the formal gardens nearest the house, winding paths lead you past elegant parterres decorated with sweetly-scented heirloom roses. Espaliered fruit trees lend height and texture to these ornate beds. Come spring, thousands of daffodils burst into bloom along the river’s edge. These give way to vibrant rhododendrons in shades of pink, purple and red clustering along the water. Foxgloves, floppy peonies and towering delphiniums fill beds elsewhere with color through summer.

The more naturalistic woodland gardens invite peaceful strolls along curving trails. Majestic oak, sweet chestnut and slender beech trees tower overhead. Beds of azaleas, magnolias and camellias add texture while providing a lush green backdrop. Look closely and you may spot one of the estate’s famous tree ferns nestled in shady glens formed by the River Inny. The dappled light and fresh, earthy scents transport one to worlds apart from this Cornish countryside.

view from cothele gardens

History of Cothele House

The estate has a long and rich history, with origins dating back to the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD. The Domesday Book recorded that Cothele was held by the Valletort family shortly after the conquest. It is believed that the Valletorts built the original house on the site, likely a standard medieval manor home designed for defense with a central hall.

Over the next few centuries, Cothele passed through many influential Cornish families including the Arundels, Bodrugans, and Edgcumbes. Each left their mark by making additions and alterations to transform humble Cothele into more of a fashionable family seat. Major expansion works took place in the late 16th century under Sir Richard Edgcumbe, incorporating Tudor details like squared-off mullion windows and ornate chimneys that stand to this day.

By the 17th century, Cothele was increasingly valued for its natural and private setting overlooking the River Tamar rather than for its modest size or antiquated military architecture. Its riverside gardens and woods became just as integral to appreciating the Cothele estate as the house itself. For over 400 years, the Edgcumbe family maintained Cothele until finally bequeathing the house, gardens and wider estate to the National Trust in 1974.

Shop and Cafe at Cothele House

For weary walkers and garden enthusiasts alike, no visit to Cothele is complete without stopping at the charming on-site café. Situated in Cothele’s historic 17th century Apple Loft, the self-service café offers refreshing beverages, light snacks and delicious homemade cakes using fruit from Cothele’s very own orchards.

Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase local delicacies like fruit cordials, jams and speciality biscuits from the Cothele shop to enjoy later or share with friends and family. They have all the lovely gifts that you can expect from a National Trust shop.

cothele cafe

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Cothele House? – They are welcome in the Estate, gardens and cafe, but only assistance dogs are allowed into the house itself.

Is Cothele accessible for wheelchairs? – Yes, the house is fine for wheelchair users, although there are some narrow corridors. The gardens are also well paved, but some steep slopes in the Estate.

Does a ferry run to Cothele Quay? – The ferry doesnt go to the House, but does come to nearby Calstock. Find out more from Plymouth Boat Trips.

gardens at cothele house

Nearby Days Out

When you are at Cothele House, thik about visiting for to these nearby places too:

  • Bodmin Jail – Imposing former prison transformed into an immersive museum offering tours showcasing tales of notorious inmates along with Cornish history.
  • Lanhydrock House – Impressive Victorian country house with expansive gardens, scenic trails and rooms to explore. National Trust property near Bodmin.
  • Jamaica Inn – Historic smugglers inn on windswept Bodmin Moor made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s novel. Museum and accommodation available.
  • Golitha Falls – Picturesque walk through woodland leading down to the stunning natural waterfall on the River Fowey. Perfect for a picnic.
  • Morwellham Quay – Living history museum that recreates a Victorian port and copper mine. Take a train ride and explore the farm.
  • Launceston Castle – Impressive Norman motte-and-bailey ruins with wonderful views from the top over the Cornish countryside

Through exquisite textiles, rare collections and tales from the Edgcumbe dynasty who lived here across 10 centuries, Cothele House leads visitors on an eyeopening voyage into Cornwall’s dynastic heritage.

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