Constantine Cornwall


Following a gentle descent into the valley of the Cober from the Penrose car park, a parkland vista with Loe Pool in the distance appeared, this was the beginning of an evening exploration of a small part of the 1600 acre Penrose estate led by National Trust Ranger, Greg Cross. The parkland was set out for the Rogers family by landscape architect Gilpin. Eighteenth century maps also showed a small deer park and extensive orchards. Many of the specimen trees were brought to the UK by the plant hunters. Unfortunately, some are now reaching their lifespan.

Members were intrigued to see the bathhouse with is deep plunge pool, this gothic building awaits renovation. Further down the valley the house came into view. There has been a house on the site for at least a thousand years. Wealth obtained from mining by both the Penrose and Rogers families enabled the house to be expanded from time to time, so it incorporates a range of styles. Later the original front was observed with the remains of the grand drive, here there was much greater symmetry apparent.

The group were able to visit the coach house, which still retains some of its original fittings and members were intrigued by the slate lined chests in the window embayments. The stables and farrier tunnel, unused for many years, remain as they were when the last horse left. Several of the buildings are occupied by bats, in fact the estate is bat rich and has a good collection of UK species.

Next the walled gardening dating from 1772 with the remains of hothouses and frames and then the Dial Garden with its Ginko, Japanese Pine and Eucryphia. Mrs Rogers walled garden once had a pool at the centre whilst the gardeners bothy still has an original potting table. The line of buildings at the northern end of the walled garden included a laundry and school room, all waiting a new roof.

The yard behind the walled garden contained a timber store and the carpenters workshop, which was used to process the abundant timber from the estate.

The Temple Plantation one provided the pleasure grounds for the house but are now overgrown as are some of the formal garden areas, providing a reminder of Heligan.

The lecture programme begins on Friday September 15th when Jo Mattingly will talk about ‚ Cornish House Fires at 19.15 in the WI Hall, Constantine. Visitors welcome.

Greg Cross, National Trust Ranger, explains the history of the Penrose Estate to members of Constantine History Group