Stately Homes + Castles
Concierge.com's insider take:
You can't turn a corner in Devon and Cornwall without bumping into an ancient castle or grand stately home. Some have huge historical significance, while others simply have attractive architecture and grounds. Lanhydrock mixes a neo-Jacobean exterior with a Victorian interior. The surrounding 450 acres of dense woods and green parkland run down to the Fowey River (Bodmin, Cornwall; 44-1208-265-950; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-lanhydrock.htm; closed Mondays). Tudor-styled Cotehele dates back to 1485 and contains the oldest known—and still functioning—domestic clock in England. The clock has occupied its position in the house since 1525 (St. Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall; 44-1579-351-346; www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-cotehele/). Prideaux Place is an Elizabethan house owned by a Cornish family, the Prideaux-Brunes, for more than 400 years. It's crammed full of portraits, period furniture, and the Prideaux porcelain collection (Padstow, Cornwall; 44-1841-532-411; www.prideauxplace.co.uk). At eerily beautiful Berry Pomeroy Castle, the same site encloses the ruins of a 15th-century Norman castle as well as a 16th-century mansion built by the Seymour family (Jane Seymour was the third of Henry VIII's many wives, and the only one to produce a male heir) (Devon; 44-1803-866-618; www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/ConProperty.238). Dartmouth Castle is a 15th-century castle built with one square tower and one round one so it would fit on the rocky headland at the mouth of the River Dart. It provided protection from French pirates (Castle Rd., Dartmouth, Devon; 44-1803-833-588; www.englsh-heritage.org.uk/server/show/ConProperty.251). Pendennis Castle is a Tudor castle built to defend Henry VIII's England from France and Spain (Falmouth, Cornwall; 44-1326-316-594; www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/ConProperty.296). Across the estuary is the smaller but most complete of the king's surviving coastal forts, St. Mawes Castle (44-1326-270-526, www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/ConProperty.307).