Pencarrow House and Gardens
A visit to Pencarrow House and Gardens makes the family’s history come alive whilst having that warmth which reminds you it is still the privately owned and cherished home of the Molesworth-St Aubyn family.
Pencarrow is approached by a magnificent mile-long carriage drive through an Iron Age hill fort. Around the Palladian mansion are Grade II* formal gardens, a large Victorian rock garden and ice house, celtic cross, 50 acres of parkland, lake and woodland with more than 700 varieties of rhododendrons and many camellias, easily accessible along well-maintained footpaths. There are lovely Tea Rooms, and a Wendy House with plenty of toys for the children to enjoy. Dogs are welcome off the lead in the woodland.
This historic Georgian House is open to public, by guided tours only, from end of March to beginning October, Sundays through to Thursdays 11am-5pm – House, Restaurant and Craft Shop, Closed Fridays and Saturdays. Last tour of the house is at 3pm.
Gardens open March 1st – October 31st, 7 days a week 10:00am – 5:30pm.
Pencarrow’s gardens are a combination of formal landscaping and woodland walks, with attractive planting for both garden specialists and casual walkers. Shorter and longer walking loops are available, as well as some wheelchair access. After the Snowdrop Sundays in February, Pencarrow’s floral season begins in March with a dazzling display of camellias and rhododendrons (more than 600 varieties in total) which bloom through the spring. Bluebells and Wild Garlic carpet the woods in May/June; the Memorial Garden provides a summer display, followed by hydrangeas, fuchsias and azaleas into the autumn.
Points of interest include an Iron Age hill fort, sunken Italian Garden with a quatrefoil fountain, ice house, palm house, ancient Cornish cross, and a grotto, which is believed to have been a secret meeting place. The gardens were designed and laid out between 1831-55 by the radical statesman and later Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir William Molesworth, together with his head gardener, Thomas Corbett. Much of their collection came from botanical explorers such as Douglas, Lobb, and Wallich, and is particularly strong in trees – at one stage, Pencarrow’s woodland boasted a specimen of every conifer, except ten, considered hardy enough for the British climate.
To the left of the Italian Gardens is the first Victorian rock garden in England. Its great granite stones, now interplanted with shrubs and trees, were carted to Pencarrow by Bodmin Moor farmers grateful for Sir William’s staunch support in Parliament.
Pencarrow also has a special relationship with the towering Araucaria araucana, the first specimen of which was bought by Sir William Molesworth for 20 guineas and planted in solemn state before a house party. Noted barrister Charles Austin remarked upon touching its prickly leaves, “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His oft-repeated witticism gave the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.
The Peacock Cafe, one of the original 17th century cottages, seats 60 people inside and outside there is a pleasant sheltered lawn with tables, chairs and sunshades. Close by is the children’s play and pet area.
Our food is freshly prepared and locally sourced. Items on the menu may vary depending on season and supply. Do look out for our specials boards!
T: 01208 841369