Prideaux Place is one of the very brightest jewels in Cornwall’s crown; one of the West Country’s oldest houses remaining in habitable condition, visually and essentially Elizabethan yet with a wealth of Strawberry Hill Gothic interiors. Fourteen generations of Prideaux have lived here and each generation has added its own contribution to the house and its historic garden.
This beautiful mansion sits on the hill above the busy harbour of Padstow and the grounds boast some of the finest views over its ancient Deer Park and the Camel Estuary to Rock and Bodmin Moor beyond. The Prideaux Family can trace their ancestry back to the 11th Century when they were Lords of Prideaux Castle at Luxulyan. The family moved to Devon for 200 years and then returned to Cornwall where Sir Nicholas Prideaux purchased the land in Padstow and built his mansion here, completed in 1592. The house is a treasure trove of Cornish life and history and contains a particularly fine collection of furniture, porcelain and paintings. It still remains very much a family home and not a museum and members of the family are very often around to greet their visitors.
Much restoration work has been done in the garden here over the last few years and now is the time to come and see the work in progress. When Peter and Elisabeth Prideaux-Brune came here in 1988 much of the landscaped grounds had disappeared under sycamore saplings and overgrown laurels but they are gradually being cleared and new planting put in their place. The Victorian Formal Garden has been restored, the Woodland Walks retraced for the first time in 60 years, an 80 tree Lime Avenue planted down either side of the Green Walk, hundreds of trees planted as well as a shelter belt put in last year to help protect the garden from the elements for future generations. A decorative garden was planted by the 17th Century Temple in 2009 as well as 3000 more spring bulbs in. The next project is to plant up the Woodland Walks.
The grounds also contain many unique buildings such as the beautiful Gothic Double Dairy, the 18th Century Temple built of Bath stone (the first use of it outside Bath), now fully restored, and the 18th Century Stable Courtyard has survived remarkably unchanged. Prideaux Place is also an international television and film location with many of our most famous actors appearing here including Joanna Lumley, Peter O’Toole, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes to name but a few.
The Tearoom is fully licensed and visitors can enjoy a light lunch or cream tea sitting on the Terrace overlooking the ancient Deer Park. There are often events here, open air concerts and Shakespeare plays, where people can picnic in the grounds, and also car rallies and art exhibitions etc.