Cotehele House and Gardens // Saltash

Medieval house with superb collections of textiles, armour and furniture, set in extensive grounds

Cotehele is a Tudor house located in St Dominick, near Saltash on the west bank of the River Tamar. It is surrounded by both formal and natural gardens, ranging from flower beds to extensive woodland, including remnants of the original two deer parks. A medieval dovecote can still be seen and the small lake is believed to be the site of the ancient stewponds. The name appears to have been derived from Cornish and means the wood on the estuary, still an appropriate name today.

The property was originally owned by the Edgcumbe family but has been in National Trust hands for some times. The Trust has developed the gardens considerably. The gardens are renowned for the old oaks, yews and Spanish chestnut trees. Unfortunately many of the most notable trees were lost in severe gales in 1891.

The house itself has been embellished with climbing plants such as wisteria and roses. It faces the Bowling Green, a grassy area lined with sycamore trees. To the east are terraces on three levels, featuring many old plants and some newer magnolias. The path down the terraces leads into a valley contained the dovecote and a thatched Victorian summerhouse. The valley contains many exotic shrubs and flowers which thrive in this secluded position.

Lower down is a further valley, much more densely wooded but interspersed with clearings and pools surrounded by shrubs. Eventually the path leads into Cotehele Wood, overlooking the river. The wood contains a wide selection of species of trees. Closer to the house, in the upper garden is a lily pond and an orchard. The area was once famed for its fruit growing and the local produce included cherries and plums as well as the more ordinary apples and pears.

There are miles of pleasant footpaths by the riverside and through the woodland. On the Tamar quayside there is a working water mill, and there are some industrial ruins in the Danescombe valley. The Cotehele quay also contains tea rooms and a gallery and museum. The "Shamrock", a restored Tamar sailing barge is moored there. Cotehele House itself is well worth a visit and contains many interesting artefacts, including some noteworthy tapestries.