Pencarrow House and Gardens

In Brief

Type: Historical house, gardens and estate
Suitable for: History buffs, garden lovers and families
Address: Just off the A389 near Washaway, between Wadebridge and Bodmin
Price: For both house and gardens: adults £14 and under-16s £5
Dog friendly?: Yes (apart from near the house where the chickens roam…)

Sitting prettily on the edge of Bodmin Moor is a Cornish Georgian house, gardens and estate attraction that oozes as much sophistication as it does tradition. Pencarrow House and Gardens is a grand attraction halfway between Wadebridge and Bodmin that screams a certain amount of glorious opulence but also opens its arms with a truly warm and welcoming vibe. This is a Cornish country gem and no mistake.

Loads of films and TV shows, including scenes from ‘Doc Martin’ and ‘Fisherman’s Friends’, have been shot at Pencarrow and you can see why. Whether you’re in the house or strolling across the gardens, it’s all exquisitely well-kept, luxurious, traditional and superbly lit. It’s been the family home of the Molesworth-St Aubyns for almost 500 years and it’s clearly been kept with pride.

The ancient family home itself, which has been open to the public since the 1970s, is gorgeous, boasting a dazzling array of portraits (including ones with ‘eyes that follow you’) and objets d’art alongside some hidden passageways and a library so stocked with old tomes it’ll make any bookworm squeal with delight. Outside the house are its Grade II-listed gardens, which were laid out in the mid-1800s and which contain endless walks and more than 400 varieties of rhododendrons and camellias. ‘Snowdrop Sundays’ in the grounds in February are apparently a popular affair.

Another highlight for the ancient history buffs is an Iron Age hillfort in the grounds. Yeah, no joke, there is actually a fort beneath the ground on the estate. After that, there are secret meeting places, ancient crosses, a play area for the kids, a fab café, a gift shop and, well, loads of other stuff you can go and discover for yourself. The whole estate covers 50 acres and dogs are welcome to roam without leads as long as they are not right next to the house. There really is a sense of ‘everyone is invited’ at Pencarrow.

The gardens are open every day between March and October, from 10am to 5pm, and the house is open for guided tours between April and October every day except Saturdays. Tours take place between 11.15am and 3pm. The café and shop are open whenever the house is welcoming the public as it has done for almost 50 years now, thanks to the generosity of the Molesworth-St Aubyns and that inimitable Cornish hospitality.