The low, grass-covered ruins of a medieval manor house, surrounded by a protective moat
Owned and run by English Heritage, the Penhallam Manor estate on the Devon / Cornwall border preserves the remains of a thirteenth-century manor house constructed by the de Cardinham family. A rare example of such a structure in the southwest of England, the house was once fortified by a moat, which continues to provide a habitat for a number of native species. The manor's abandonment just 100 years after it was built, and its later destruction, means its medieval footings haven't been altered by newer structures.
Although close with King John (who reigned from 1199 – 1216 and has a bit part in the legend of Robin Hood), the de Cardinham family soon lost influence because of a failure to give birth to a male heir. The estate was divided between daughters instead, who took all that was worth taking to their new homes when they married. Meanwhile, local people took advantage of the stone for their own needs.
Set around a small central courtyard, the manor would have been like a self-sufficient town, with chickens and goats roaming around, a chapel, buttery and even a bake house on site. Although the remaining stones might take some imagining as a busy medieval home, Penhallam Manor is still an atmospheric place situated in glorious North Cornwall countryside a stone's throw from Devon.