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Lanhydrock (Cornwall)

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One of the most fascinating late 19th-century houses in England, full of period atmosphere and the trappings of a high Victorian country house. Although the gatehouse and north wing (with magnificent 32m-long gallery with plaster ceiling) survive from the

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    4 Reviews
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      01.07.2010 00:08
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      Great place for an afternoon out

      We visited Lanhydrock on a recent visit to Cornwall. I had been given two free entry passes to a National Trust Property and had heard great things so we packed up our picnic and set of prepared to be impressed.

      This must be one of the "grandest" National Trust properties I have visited. You approach the property by walking down a very long avenue of trees. If you have impaired mobility (or just feeling a little lazy) then you can take a shuttle (well golf buggy) down and I would really recommend you do this, otherwise you will be worn out before you get there.

      From the avenue, you are given your first glimpse of the house. There is a impressive gate house with its own little turrets and then through there the view of the huge house widens out beyond. The National Trust say that this is an unpretentious but wealthy house - well I would love to see what they think a pretentious one was!!

      The house was built in the 17th century but rebuilt in the late 1800s due to a huge fire. The house interior is impressive, with the usual contrast between the elegant living and dining rooms of the main house and the more real feeling servants' quarters.

      The most impressive feature of this property is the beautiful landscaping and outside space. The front and sides of the property are very formal with intricate and symmetrical designs that must take an army of gardeners to keep pristine. Behind the house are the more relaxed planting areas of fantastic floral borders and shrubs - even you are not a plant lover, you will enjoy exploring the paths that meander through the gardens.

      There is a sweet little church in the grounds also, which had ladies from the village singing in when we went - not to everyone's tastes, but very sweet and a nice touch.

      There is a fab coffee shop and I would definately recommend the ice cream though I hear the cream teas are pretty special too.

      All in all we had a very enjoyable afternoon there, and I would recommend a visit to anyone in the area on hols. At £8 per head it is pretty pricey, but there is a lot to see and you can easily while away a happy afternoon here. There is plenty for little ones too - a great play area for them to lot of steam after being ever so careful in the house.

      Lanydrock can be found near Bodmin, South Cornwall - easily signposted from all major routes around the town centre. Further details available from the National Trust website.

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        18.08.2009 15:09
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        Step back in time - definitely worth a visit

        We visited Lanhydrock House near Bodmin in Cornwall on a rainy day while we were on holiday in August 2009. It is owned by the National Trust and the admission fee was a hefty £10.40 for adults. Luckily, we had a 2 for 1 voucher through M&S, plus under-fives go free, otherwise I'm not sure we would have been willing to pay the full £26 entry fee for just the three of us! I always feel these places are way overpriced, but that's just the way it is, I guess.

        We found the place quite easily with the help of our GPS (postcode: PL30 5AD). We had no problem with parking, although the car park filled up very quickly just after we arrived at around 11 am. The National Trust staff in the ticket office seemed rather friendly and approachable. (Little did we know what was in store inside the house!) They accepted our money-off voucher without any fuss and didn't scrutinise our son to make sure he was within the age limit to get free entry. We received a free map of the grounds, which was useful to find our way around the gardens.

        The house and the grounds are a bit of a walk away from the car park. You can immediately see the house in the distance at the end of a sloping road, surrounded by the formal gardens. I must say, it does look very impressive, and the fact that it was raining only made it appear more atmospheric and maybe a little bit mysterious too. Apparently, the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers was filmed on these premises!

        At the gatehouse we had to show our tickets and were asked whether our son wanted to do a quiz trail. We weren't sure what it was all about but said yes, anyway. Later, it turned out it was a very good idea, as it kept our child occupied while we were in the house. He was given a clipboard and a pencil with the task to spot a number of toy trains hidden around the house. This really got his attention and with a little help from us, he spotted all the trains. We managed to walk through the house in about an hour and a bit without any - "I'm tired" and "I want to go home" and "It's boring". If you visit with children, make sure you take part in this activity, as it really makes the time pass more quickly for them.

        When we entered the house, we had to show our tickets yet again. Having read two other reviews, I must agree with the reviewers that the volunteers in the house - a bunch of overzealous old ladies - seemed a bit austere. Not a smiling face in sight! They asked us again how old our son was and when I told them five in September - which is the truth! - they gave me this "I-don't-believe-you-but-there's-nothing-I-can-do-about-it" sort of look. They then quite sternly, told me to put my bag in the lockers - a polite request would have been more welcome. Also, they practically shouted at one of the foreign tourists in the entrance hall for taking photos, who didn't even seem to understand what they were talking about. Later, during the tour, yet another foreigner was literally told off for taking photos, as if they were stupid kids doing something very naughty. I must add here, that we were not warned beforehand about this restriction, so if you missed the signs on the wall, how would you know?

        The house itself is quite extensive and there are some 50 rooms to explore. According to one of the brochures, you get the whole "upstairs-downstairs" experience of the Victorian era, and that's exactly what this house is all about. You get to explore the humble servants' quarters, the kitchen and the food preparation areas in sharp contrast to the grand dining room, drawing room, library, nursery and numerous bedrooms. All the rooms are fully furnished with objects scattered everywhere to demonstrate the use of each area. There were even real cakes and fruit on the dining room table and in the kitchen - or at least they looked real to me.

        The house was a little overcrowded with tourists during our visit, probably because of the rain. The gift shop was particularly bad as you could hardly move. There were lots of books, toys and souvenirs for sale at the usual inflated prices. Outside the house, in a separate building, there is a snack bar, which looked overcrowded as well, so we didn't venture in. We did go into the small play barn, however, which looked like they'd only just recently set it up. There were various Victorian-type toys in the barn for the children to play with.

        At the end of our visit we walked around the grounds a little bit, which include a church, the formal gardens, as well as a more extensive woodland walk. Unfortunately, it was still raining, so we couldn't get the maximum out of the outdoor experience, but I can say that the formal gardens were truly amazing. Manicured to absolute perfection and not a gardener in sight, perhaps because of the rain?

        On the way back to the car park we wanted to take a look at the adventure playground marked on the map, but we couldn't find it, so we gave up in the end. There's also supposed to be a picnic area right next to it. On a sunny day we would have been more determined to find it, but it was still raining and we were getting tired so we headed back to our holiday accommodation.

        Both the house and the gardens are well worth a visit, I would say. There's a lot to see inside and outside the house. If you would like to find out more about Lanhydrock House, here's a link to the information on the National Trust website, including opening times and current admission charges:

        http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-lanhydrock

        There's also an amateur video here (not mine!) on youtube with images of the building and the gardens, which can help you decide whether it's worth visiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oTMcb4Rp60

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          12.09.2005 22:39
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          A strange place.

          Lanhydrock House.
          Follow the signs from the junction of the A30 and A38 near Bodmin, Cornwall.
          Open: March 19 – October 30, 11.00 – 17.30 except Mondays.
          Entrance £7.90, which gets you into the house and gardens.

          This is a property owned by the National Trust and includes a café, gift shop and small museum. For a quid each, you can get a ride to the house, along the entrance drive in an old 1930’s car. I’m sorry but I cannot remember the make. It was in tiptop condition though. A smashing piece of kit to see running. Very evocative.

          I won’t go into the history of the place, as it’s really not the purpose of this article. However, the original house dates from the 16th Century, but after a major fire in 1881, which destroyed all but one wing, the house was completely renovated in a Neo Jacobean style, but with all the mod cons of the Victorian period. Much of which is still in working order today. So what you see as you tour the house dates from this period and reflects the life of the landed gentry and their households in Queen Victoria’s time.

          Built of local granite, Lanhydrock House sits in its own wood and parkland grounds at the foot of a hill, facing eastwards with views down the valley towards the River Fowey. Although it still has it’s own gardens, they are nowhere near as formal as they used to be and are now mostly lawned. However, you can still view documents that show the gardens when they were at their most splendid.

          The U shaped house itself is a sprawling rabbit warren of corridors and rooms with an inner courtyard leading to the main porch. It is from there that you proceed to tour the place. There are plenty of volunteers around to ask for any guidance. However, there is a guide book (£4.00) that details your walk through from room to room which I found preferable to the hardly knowledgable stewards and volunteers.

          Much of the furniture originally belonged to the house when it was donated to The National Trust and has been lovingly maintained. The furniture that is not originally Lanhydrocks is still of the period and in keeping with the overall character to the house.

          I found it a fascinating and strange place to walk around.

          Fascinating in that there was so much ritual to so many facets of domestic life and that there were so many rooms that had particular uses. For instance, there is a dinning room, a morning room, smoking and games rooms that had no other purpose. There are separate rooms for the lord and the lady of the house. There was not only a generous kitchen, but dairy, fish and meat rooms as well as a bakery. The children had their own nursery and playroom as well as a schoolroom and bathroom and the nanny had her own room and bathroom too. Sculleries are everywhere and there are even special spaces where food was kept warm before serving and even the family luggage, of which there is a mountain, has it’s own special room.

          Strange in that even with so many folk walking around there seemed to be an uncanny quiet about the place. Ghosts still liger, watching, making sure you behave yourself. It sounds silly, I know. But I felt as if I was intruding, and the atmosphere of quiet appeared to affect every one there. It seemed no one dared make any noise and we all spoke in very hushed tones. Strange. I don’t feel that any one would ever see a ghost as such, but there is a sadness that hints at the tragedies of lives departed that still lingers in the corridors and rooms, especially around the sleeping quarters. Why, I haven’t got the faintest idea. Also, in the west wing I caught the faintest smell of smoke (no there weren’t any fires I could see). I don’t know, maybe it was just me and my still active imagination, although the house has seen it’s fair share of family traumas’ over the centuries but nothing that could be called bloody.

          Here’s another strange observation. It seemed that I was practically the youngest person there, and at 44 that’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Apart from the odd exception, all the other visitors seemed old, made up of couples with plumby accents and inexhaustible knowledge of their surroundings. A bit unnerving that. I think I would rather walk among the ghosts.

          For those who are studying or wish to study the local history in general and social history in particular, Lanhydrock House is an absolute goldmine of detail. With allsorts from the tiger rugs in the games room to the diner menus (in French, of coarse) on through to the kids’ toys, you could spend months taking it all in and still find something new. The collection of books maintained in the Gallery is another joy to behold. The reading these people used to do. And the records that were kept, as precise as anything that we use computers for today. Amazing stuff. And there are pictures everywhere, prints and oils, mostly portraits of family, friends and associates. Again, it’s fascinating stuff, looking at the face of a man 200 years your senior.

          For me, the kitchens and associated rooms and bakery were especially interesting. With fast, convenient food being the norm nowadays, when we rarely spend more than half an hour a day in the kitchen, to see how things used to be done, when people could spend anything up to eighteen hours a day preparing food, and all fresh too. It was an absolute joy.

          Mind, I got the impression that being the lord and lady of the house must have been tedious to the point of torture at times. Especially as they had some one to jump to their every whim. Also, as we all know, the victors always, with few exceptions, write history. And in the case of Lanhydrock, the previous owners, the Robartes, seem to be documented as being most benevolent to their staff and the local community, not only putting their trade locally whenever possible but also doing quite a bit for the charities as well. However, to me, I think you would need a certain ruthless streak about you to hang on to, and run profitably, a place such as this. For instance, the rules for the domestic staff, which can be viewed as you walk through, are quite strict, draconian even. I find it’s these little details that can sometimes shed a truer light on how people behaved, and their attitudes. Interesting.

          In the world of pushing and shoving where everything is attainable by fair means or foul, it’s fascinating to tour such a place as Lanhydrock and get a glimpse back to a time where people took pride in their work and in themselves. When each had their job to do and a certain dignity was gained from the knowledge that they had time and grace to get it done to the best of their ability. It’s a place where you feel that pride, loyalty and obedience still has a home. A rare thing indeed.

          However, I found it quite sad that such places highlight the fact that the inequalities of life are just as great now, as they were then. No mater what some might people say. And the class structure, now as it was then, still maintains a social segregation that will never change. But, at least these days, we have the freedom to have a go at crossing that divide, eh?

          Visit Lanhydrock House. As a (almost) living museum it is a pleasure to walk around. To see things as they used to be, how things were achieved and how folk conducted themselves is sometimes disturbing, sometimes enchanting but always engrossing,

          Try it for yourself.

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            04.11.2003 18:30
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            Situated close to the town of Bodmin in Cornwall, Lanhydrock is just one of the many National Trust properties in the Devon and Cornwall area. So, whats so special about this one, I here to you ask? Well not a lot really if we?re brutally honest, I have been to many of the NT country houses over the years and there is nothing at Lanhydrock which grabs your attention from others, well maybe, apart from one room! Okay, let me explain this, the house has many interesting rooms which are filled with a variety of period items as well as a large variety of stuffed dead animals. However there are a number of properties with are better. The gardens are nice at Lanhydrock, there nice in a quiet sort of way as oppose to nice in a Wow! kind of way. The trees at the main entrance are nice though standing to attention, in line on the entrance to the house. Also on the grounds is a small chapel where the owners of the house would have worshipped at one time. This chapel contains some interesting stained glass windows, if your into stained glass windows. There are also a few out buildings with the olde transport inside as well as a snack shop, restaurant and toilets The snack shop in my opinion was a complete rip off and I would strongly recommend taking your own drinks. They were charging 90p for a small plastic cup full of pop which was duely poured from a My Mums, type brand container which probably cost less than 90p to buy two bottles! Oh and coffee thats been brewing for hours doesnt taste so good, so dont try charging £1.20 for stewed coffee. Lets get back to the house as thats what the majority of you will go to see. Before you enter the house youd better put your camera away, as with most NT properties being anally retentive about cameras and this place was the worst. I had not even walked through the door before one of the women volunteers starts the cameras are not allowed routine. Get a life! Listen if you
            ?d have looked at the camera, you half wit! its in its holder and the lens cap is on. How do you take pictures with the lens cap on? Perhaps your camera works when its got its lens cap on but mine doesnt! Kinda spoilt my visit, before it even began! Built in the late 19th-century it houses a magnificent 32yd-long gallery with plaster ceiling which survives from the 17th century, the rest of the house was rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1881. The garden features a stunning collection of magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias, and offers fine colours right through into autumn. All this is set in a glorious estate of 364ha (900 acres) of woods and parkland running down to the River Fowey. Well thats roughly what it says on the NT site anyway. The best room in my opinion was the great hall, which is a long room with some superb carving and plaster work, especially the ceiling and loads of period furniture and is the last main room in the house, barring the obligatory NT gift shop, that is. I?ve often wondered if the NT work everything around the gift shop? Anyway I am not singing the praises of Lanhydrock as the beauty of the house and gardens was spoilt by the expensive drinks and the extremely rude and curt manor of certain members of the staff, plus I think the admission price is way too high for this property. Lanhydrock Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5AD Telephone 01208 265950 01208 265952 (Shop) 01208 265951 (Restaurant) © Mike Porter, Copyright 1999 ? 2003

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