My day out: Pencarrow House & Gardens

Pencarrow House and Gardens is a stately home with Grade II listed garden. Beyond the headlines though it is also home to the Molesworth-St Aubyns family. Midway between Bodmin and Wadebridge it’s a quick and easy to reach day trip where horticultural awe and hide and seek can combine beautifully. Book in the grandparents for half term, would be my advice!

A private home open to the public

I am a great advocate of the lesser known attractions that do not get the financial aid from the likes of National Trust and English Heritage, so I wanted to support this privately owned estate, which is still a genuine family home and has been for almost 500 years.

With no big brand backing, I expected to find a modest size house surrounded by lawns and woodland with maybe the odd volunteer on-site. The mile long carriage driveway gave a wonderful first impression and felt like I was entering a bygone era.

Step back in time at Pencarrow House & Gardens

To my surprise and delight, once inside the house I discovered a period property sensitive and reminiscent of its time. A step back in time… I had not expected every room in the house to be fully furnished in-keeping with its period to the point that you felt someone had just got up from the chair to answer the door and would be back. Most adorably, the lady of the house still goes in each morning and turns pages, tweaks and titivates the rooms.

What's behind the doors...

If there were to be one glimmer of disappointment it would be that because I am always fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspect of a house I wanted to delve deeper but couldn’t. Alas, in order to retain this period splendour the servants quarters were out of bounds as this is where Lady Molesworth-St Aubyn actually lives.

Guided tours

Guided tours of the house operate every 45 minutes and last just over an hour. The guide was very personable and kept the talk light with facts and anecdotes to keep everyone interested. There were filming stories of Doc Martin and Rosamunde Pilcher; even Dawn French and her Ladyship racing around the estate during an insurance TV advertisement, which was told as hilariously as it sounds!Although described as gardens, the outdoor space is actually more formal lawns bordered by mature shrubs and trees. During my visit in July 2018, mid heatwave, the feature fountain had been turned off to preserve water.

Primarily aimed at adults and retirees, there was a quiz sheet for children to find things on their way round and also translation sheets for overseas guests (we had two German families in our tour).

Pencarrow House visitor insight

There is a reduced admission charge if you only want to visit the gardens.
There is a picnic area on-site but who can resist the lovely homemade snacks on offer in the Peacock
Café which were delicious and reasonably priced.
Depending on the weather there is indoor and outdoor seating and an adjacent small childrens play area.
Parking is in a cobbled courtyard next to the shop and don’t be surprised if your paths cross with a free range chicken or peacock.
There is level access or shallow gradients to most areas although the paths are unmade.Dogs are welcome on leads in the grounds.

Pencarrow gardens!

They also host special events through the year including Snowdrop Sunday in February, Bluebell & Wild Garlic Sunday in April, Hits from the Blitz in August, Christmas Craft Fair in November and Christmas Carols in December.

Top tips for visiting Pencarrow House & Gardens

Sensible footwear required
No photography inside the house
Asked not to take large bags/rucksacks around the house
Complimentary dog biscuit from the gift shop
Kids go free and discount vouchers available to download online

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About the author: Alison is our holiday home manager and recently visited Polly Joke poppy field.