Godolphin is a historic estate built on land rich in tin and copper. It was developed by the Godolphin family before political power beckoned and the grounds and buildings became a tenant farm holding. Around 1300 Sir Alexander Godolghan built a castle here, laid out on a 4.5-acre site divided into 9 equal-sized squares. The castle stood on the central square and the other 8 were used as gardens, enclosed by a stone wall.
You enter the estate via a walk through woodland which is ablaze with bluebells in May.
We returned to these gardens last week, about 3 weeks after our first visit in February, to see whether the daffodils were open. Some were, some are still to come into flower, but the difference in the King’s Garden was noticeable.
Both Magnolia trees were in flower (though not as impressive as those we saw at Lanhydrock) and the herbaceous beds were beginning to fill out. I love to see what has been planted here as the raised stone walls are similar to what is in my garden. One big difference is that this is a sheltered walled garden whereas mine is quite exposed to the elements.
The King’s Garden was the private garden for the state rooms and would have been very formal with knot gardens, roses, fountains and heraldic ornaments. One of its uses over the years has been as a kitchen garden, used to grow vegetables. The garden has been designed to represent and acknowledge its history, but not as a mock Tudor garden. The aim is to fill the borders with traditional, scented plants and native wild flowers to attract bugs, bees and butterflies.
The King’s Room itself features a finely carved doorway created in 1604 for the marriage of Sir William Godolphin. Also in the King’s Room is a superbly carved Jacobean chimney piece and overmantle.
Leaving this garden behind we made our way to the Cider House and walked around the orchard before going into the side gardens. There are a lot of bluebells in this part of the garden too and a ‘barefoot’ walk open in the summer months. A little too chilly and muddy to be barefoot, though a few days later did find me walking home barefoot after getting my shoe stuck in the mud on ‘my’ hill!
Godolphin House is a romantic Tudor mansion of grey granite stone set in extensive Elizabethan gardens. The house features an early Elizabethan stable block. The crenellated Stuart frontage hides a suite of informal Tudor rooms set on two floors. The house was redesigned in 1630 in a style more suited to Italy than Cornwall, by Sir Francis Godolphin. The Godolphin family were committed to the Royalist cause in the Civil War and sheltered Charles II here in 1646 during his flight to the Scilly Isles. The house isn’t open all the time as it is used as a holiday let. Christmas here would be pretty amazing.
The plants that the team have planted in the side garden are either derivatives of native plants or non-natives that resemble native plants such as aquilega, white foxgloves, lupin and oxeye daisy. Lots of woodland plants such as Ferns, Primroses and Navelwort (Wall Pennywort) are allowed to self-seed, Hyacinths and daffodils clump up in the borders, daffodils and fritillary in the grass and a wild meadow has been planted.
I love this garden. It doesn’t offer the variety of plants and flowers that other Great Gardens of Cornwall do, with their Camellia, Magnolia and Rhododendron collections, but it does reflect what grows well in this area. I would be happy to have this garden and the Potting Shed below with its rusty corrugated tin roof.
It is never a busy garden, often the number of friendly gardeners outweigh the visitors, it is a peaceful, calm place with the sound of birdsong accompanying you around the gardens. Parts of the 16th-century formal gardens have been restored to their original design and the remains of the original raised walks and carp ponds are undergoing restoration.
Passing by the 16th century stables and the secret courtyard I can never resist a photo of the old doors.
And then we are back at the Piggery, where you can stop for a coffee and slice of cake. Or if you are still feeling active then why not venture into the wider estate where there are walks to the old mines, along the riverside or up the hill. We decided to leave that for another time when the ground is a little less soggy!
- Godolphin Cross,
- TR13 9RE
- Website: Godolphin House