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National Trust Godolphin Guidebook

National Trust Godolphin Guidebook

Godolphin Guidebook


Godolphin is a property unlike any other in the National Trust’s care. It has one of the country’s earliest recorded formal gardens, its walled King’s Garden dating back to the Middle Ages. The side garden has given up a fraction of its secrets to the archaeologists, so today’s gardeners have to go about their business with extra care and only ever to a single spade’s depth. The estate, too, is riddled with Cornish industrial history, with conspicuous mining remains above ground but also a warren of mineshafts below. Godolphin’s restoration has been a careful and lengthy process, begun by an artistic family and now continued by the National Trust.

Both house and garden have been embellished and left to languish over the course of Godolphin’s 800-year history. At one time the finest house west of Exeter, it was the countryseat of a family prominent in the political affairs of the country. But politics being a fickle business, the Godolphins’ fortunes waned as well as they waxed, and that once great house is today in part a romantic ruin. Farming saved the estate from total abandonment, and the buildings you can explore today provide an insight into how a large Victorian estate was run.

Godolphin may not readily give up its secrets, but that just makes it all the more intriguing. This book guides you through Godolphin’s long and turbulent history, relates the stories of a colourful and connected Cornish family, and tells how painstaking conservation is revealing more and more facets of this gem of a Cornish estate.

Michael Sagar-Fenton is a native of Penzance, a journalist and author. He has written extensively on Cornish themes, with books on St Michael’s Mount, Serpentine, the pre-war Newlyn clearances, the loss of the Penlee Lifeboat and, most recently, a full-length history of Penzance. He is also a regular contributor to The Cornishman and the Western Morning News. He was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 2005.

ISBN 978-1-84359-482-6

Published July 2016

210 x 210 mm

48-page paperback


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