| St Dominick, Saltash,
Cornwall PL12 6TA Tel: 01579 351346
Cotehele House is located 6 miles south-west of Tavistock, off the A390 in a picturesque riverside location.
The Medieval manor house at Cotehele offers the visitor a unique mirror into the past. The buildings are as they were in the 16th century — Cotehele is one of the least altered medieval houses in Britain, with very little improvements or changes to the structure since the improvements by Sir Richard Edgecumbe and his son at the end of the 15th century.
The Edgecumbe family acquired Cotehele through marriage in 1353. The original house was a quadrangular building of red sandstone, which still forms the lowest levels of walls surrounding the inner courtyard. The original medieval manor-house was rebuilt between 1490 and 1520 by Sir Richard Edgecumbe and his son, Piers. They followed the original plan of the house, improving and enlarging the facilities using local granite, sandstone and slate. The family moved to Mount Edgecumbe, 10 miles to the south, in 1553, with Cotehele only occasionally being occupied ever since.
This Tudor home has remained virtually unaltered since the move to Mount Edgecumbe. A tower was added in 1627, which added three impressive bedrooms to the facilities at Cotehele. King Charles I is said to have stayed the night here. Most of the original furnishings and tapestries remain at the house. Each room has its own fine example of a tapestry. You enter the buildings via the Great Hall and you immediately walk into an impressive display of arms and armoury, set amongst a collection of period furniture and tapestries beneath the a high, arched timber roof. The contents of Cotehele House are on loan from Lord Mount Edgecumbe's trustees. Cotehele has three internal courtyards and a splendid old kitchen and a tower. The tower was added in 1627, providing the House with three impressive bedrooms. King Charles I is said to have stayed the night here. The chapel clock installed in 1489 is a great rarity. It is pre-pendulum and is powered by two 90 pound weights.
The family moved to Mount Edgecumbe in the 17th century but they continued to appreciate the historic value of Cotehele. The estate stayed in the hands of the Edgecumbe family until 1947 when it was accepted by the Treasury in payment of death duty and given to the National Trust. It was the first property to be acquired by Trust in this way.
The National Trust and National Maritime Museum have established a museum here to show the economical importance of the Tamar during this period. A restored Tamar sailing barge is moored alongside. A little further through woodland is the restored estate corn mill, which is now in working order.
The gardens are on many levels as they descend the steep valley to the River Tamar. The climate is mild and there are many exotic and tender plants. There are ponds, old yew hedges, a medieval dovecote, a daffodil meadow, terraced flower borders, fine trees and shrubs that provide colour throughout the year. The large estate has many footpaths. A short walk through the gardens and along the river leads to a quay, which was busy in during in the 19th century.
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