Historic Houses of Devon & Cornwall
The neighbouring counties of Devon and Cornwall offer a rich selection of historic houses across a broad expanse of English history, from medieval times through the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras and into the twentieth century.
Buckland Abbey is the oldest property in our selection, dating back to the 13th century, and once the home of one of England’s greatest adventurers. Prideaux Place has its origins in the Norman Conquest though the house we see today dates from the reign of Elizabeth I, and we see another fine Tudor house at Cothele in Devon. Lanhydrock, designed as an ‘unpretentious’ family home, dates back to the 17th century, while the Georgian era is represented by the grand house at Killerton. While Castle Drogo has the appearance of a medieval fortress it was actually built in the early 20th century by the renowned Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Each house is steeped in family stories and reflects the uniquely colourful tapestry of English history.
Please note: most of the properties included in this tour are owned by the National Trust and as many of our guests are NT/NTS members, we have not included admission costs for these properties. There is therefore a supplement of £65.00 for non-members.
Travel by luxury coach from London is included, featuring:
- Luxury leather seats with 3-point seat belts and arm rests, facing illuminated tables
- Air conditioning/heating
- Curtains and privacy glass
- Air suspension
We depart from our pick-up points and head down into Devon, where we begin with a visit to Castle Drogo, which has undergone extensive renovation and has now been restored to its former glory. This dramatic, granite building, towering over the River Teign Gorge, was built by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the millionaire Julius Drewe and combines the grandeur of a medieval fortress with the comforts of the 20th century. Included is a guided tour of the house which tells the story of Drewe’s dream of a family home and his life of achievements, as well as the family’s tragic loss. After our tour there will be time to explore the formal garden, which has a magnificent rhododendron collection, herbaceous borders and a rose garden.
We continue to our comfortable accommodation at the Lanhydrock Hotel and Golf Club, a stylish, contemporary hotel with its own 18-hole golf course set in mature parkland. Dinner will be served in the evening.
After a leisurely breakfast we travel the short distance to Lanhydrock, a magnificent seventeenth century house surrounded by nineteenth century formal terraced gardens. When Thomas Charles refashioned Lanhydrock after a fire in 1881 he wanted to create 'an unpretentious family home'. While his idea of everyday comfort might be different from our own, there is no doubting the family is at the very heart of this house. There's a whole suite of rooms dedicated to the children, family photographs throughout and the morning room which was used by the children as a performance space for annual plays and theatricals. We will also discover the fascinating contrast between the upstairs and downstairs worlds as we explore the kitchens and servants' quarters as well as the grand family spaces. We will also have time to wander in the terraced gardens and the informal pleasure grounds beyond.
Following our visit here we head for Padstow on the northern coast of Cornwall, where there will be an opportunity for lunch (not included), perhaps at one of celebrity chef Rick Stein’s various outlets.
In the afternoon we visit nearby Prideaux Place, a charming Elizabethan manor which has been lived in by the same family since its completion in 1592. The Prideaux family is an ancient Cornish clan whose origins date back to the Norman Conquest when they are recorded as Lords of the Manor at Prideaux Castle. The house now combines its traditional Elizabethan architecture with the 18th century exuberance of Strawberry Hill Gothic. The house has 81 rooms and some of the finest are included in our guided tour. The North Wing, sadly inaccessible to visitors at the present time, remains as it was the day the 121st Engineer Combat Battalion of the American Army marched from Prideaux to take up its role in the D-Day Landings.
Dinner will be served back at the hotel.
After breakfast today our attention turns to the neighbouring county of Devon as we visit two outstanding historic properties. Cotehele, near Plymouth, is a Tudor house with many stories and legends, festooned with tapestries and adorned with textiles, arms and armour, pewter, brass and old oak furniture; a magical experience awaits us where little has changed over the years. Outside, we can explore the formally planted terraces, the Valley Garden, which includes a medieval stewpond and dovecote, and Cotehele Quay, home of the restored Tamar sailing barge Shamrock. Lunch is available here (not included).
In the afternoon we visit the oldest property in our tour, Buckland Abbey, which started life as a peaceful Cistercian monastery in 1278. For over 250 years, the monks who farmed the vast estate lived in the peaceful solitude of the Tavy valley. Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries saw Buckland sold to Sir Roger Grenville, who began to modify the abbey into a house and home, and later it was sold again to privateer Sir Francis Drake, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. In the course of our tour we will therefore walk in the footsteps of monks, sailors and servants, as we journey from a Tudor chamber to a cosy Georgian dining room.
We return to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for a visit to the house and gardens of Killerton. The Georgian house displays a magnificent collection of 18th- 20th century costumes in period rooms (originally known as the Paulise de Bush collection) and in the coursed of our guided tour we will learn of Killerton’s 400 years of history. Afterwards there will be time to explore the gardens where countless trees and shrubs thrive, including rhododendrons, magnolias, stewartias and maples.
Following our visit we will return to our original pick-up points, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.
- Brightwater Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with water (wine with dinners)
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Hotels - Accommodation in hand-picked hotels.