Antony House

Image courtesy of National Trust Images / James Dobson

In Brief

Type: History and garden attraction
Suitable for: All the family
Address: Ferry Lane, Torpoint, between Plymouth and Looe
Price: Adults £10, children £5
Dog friendly?: No

The English Civil War is arguably the most important conflict to ever happen on British soil as it shaped the way the country was forever governed. Across Cornwall, there are a plethora of sites of historical interest wrapped up in civil war history but one of the most intriguing – and beautiful – is Antony House.

A National Trust property in Torpoint, between Plymouth and Looe, which is open between April and November, Antony House is an 18th century mansion set within a lush landscaped garden. It’s still home to the Carew Pole family whose lineage contains former Antony residents Alexander and John Carew, two men executed during and just after the civil war for their opposition to King Charles I. In fact, John Carew was hung, drawn and quartered for his part in signing the death warrant of the king.

Okay, none of this happened inside Antony House. But nevertheless, the family’s story is unabashedly on show across this silver-grey stone house – one of the finest surviving Queen Anne buildings in the South West – as they were caught up in the English Civil War. And civil war history is apparent throughout the house, no better displayed than with a famous painting of Charles I during his trial in 1648 when he was beheaded and the country’s governance was forever changed. There are lots of important portraits throughout the property – including some works by renowned talent Sir Joshua Reynolds – and plenty of period furniture, tapestries and textiles for visitors to enjoy.

The grounds – which were famously filmed by director Tim Burton for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ over a decade ago – are no less impressive on the Antony estate. Sweeping views of the surrounding countryside with Devon’s Plymouth on the horizon dominate the vistas. And then there’s the landscaped garden that includes expert topiary, modern sculptures and a National Collection of Daylilies within its borders. For kids, there’s a sporty adventure trail and for everyone else, the walks around the grounds are beautiful and recommended. Pre-booking your visit is essential. And then you can just lose your mind exploring all that history in the house and all the nature in the gardens outside. Just don’t lose your head like a famous king once did.