Enid Blyton in Cornwall

And the wind continued all night and all day. Actually we had snow today but the wind blew it all away.

After topping up the wood supply at the Caraharack Feed Store, we made our way to Lanhydrock, a National Trust property near Bodmin. It is massive. Altogether there are 70 rooms though the public can only visit 50. Such a shame. We could have spent so much longer there.

Lanhydrock, Cornwall

The car park is so far away that they offer a vintage car ride to the house. When I say offer, you do have to pay. Given that you have to walk a few miles visiting all the rooms, the relief of the car ride up to the house is probably justified. We didn’t take the car up, preferring to walk with the other 5,000 people out for Easter Saturday.

Our usual tea & coffee to start had to be altered as the refreshment room (the barn) was packed to queuing. We tried the restaurant but this also had a bit of a glum line up waiting. We settled on the restaurant and had lunch while we read the guidebook. We rushed a bit because there was a real chance of someone being sat at our table, something we particularly dislike.

Lanhydrock is a house that is meant to show how much money and power a family has. This is so obvious as you first catch a glimpse of this massive place. At one time, the house was staffed by 80 people for a family of two adults and 10 children. The servant’s quarters were pretty swish though some poor bugger had to empty the bedpans down the giant lavatory sink.

Anyway, a house has stood here since the Robartes first settled in the area in 1621. The family has been here ever since, each generation making little changes. In 1881 the house burnt down. Well, most of it did. And it was up to ‘Little Lordy’ Thomas to rebuild it.

He was called ‘Little Lordy’ because he was only 5′ 4″ tall. He is responsible for the tiny door from his bedroom into his bathroom. Some believe he made this door small so he could look bigger. If that’s true then I would have thought the door to his wife’s bedroom would have been the better option. Her room also connected to the bathroom.

So we wandered all over this massive building. In and out of the many rooms, crowded by the crowds, bashed by the heads of the many small children dashing to and fro. Mirinda was very annoyed at the obvious display of wealth as well as the crowds, so we didn’t really enjoy it as much as we normally would.

Interestingly the house was used in WWII to house kids evacuated from London. Bet dad would have preferred the holiday the kids had here rather than the workhouse environment he experienced in Potterne! Apparently they had games and marmalade sandwiches on the lawns and adventures with smugglers and a little dog called Timmy. So Enid Blyton it’s just not true.

Once we’d emerged from the house we managed to get a tea, coffee and cake at the Barn and sat in peace for a bit. It was then off to the church, St Hydroc, which sits just behind the house. It has actually been there longer than the house. No-one is really sure of its age but the tower dates from the 1450s.

The church had fallen into some disrepair (probably something to do with the reformation) so when Sir Richard Robartes bought the estate in 1620, he repaired it, putting a plaster panel of James I on the wall, indicating his loyalty to the crown. Fortunately the lovely Tudor porch still has its original wooden bosses, which are really lovely.

Wooden ceiling boss, St Hydroc

Out the front of the church is a lovely granite four-holed Cornish Cross probably carved in the 13th century. Overall it’s a pretty little church and not so crowded with all things Robartes as one would expect. Unlike the church at Petworth!

We’d had enough after the church so we hailed the chap in the vintage car to chauffeur us to the car park. It was very cold in the vintage car. So cold that the chap driving was forced to wear gloves. He told us about the snow that fell on Bodmin Moor last night.

We then set off for Restormel Castle near a town called Lostwithiel. The castle was built before the town, located above the valley of the River Fowey. It would have made a strong statement about the man who lived there. The castle remains that stand there now are the 14th century keep. The Black Prince (son of Edward III) once owned it though he only visited twice. At that time (late 1300s) it would have been lime washed a bright white surrounded by an extensive deer park. Its impressiveness, however, never amounted to much except, presumably in the minds of a few peasants.

By the 16th century it was in poor repair and fell into neglect and ruin. The tenant who worked the farm in the 18th century, incorporated the ruin into his romantic picturesque garden.

It’s the sort of castle that you can walk around and touch and really feel like you are part of history as it sits in the landscapes and slowly rots. So much better than a museum of a stately home full of rotten kids.

Restormel Castle, nr Lostwithiel

And you can climb all over it! The views from the top of the castle were magnificent, overlooking the sweeping valley. Mirinda managed to steel her nerves and climb the ramparts with me, peeking nervously through the castellations as she went.

The castle probably started life around the early 1100s, though no-one is really certain. There was a castle there in 1265 when Thomas de Tracy surrendered it to Simon de Montfort. For anyone who doesn’t know, de Montfort is basically responsible for the way that parliament works in the UK today.

Restormel was a pretty amazing place in the 14th century if the reconstruction in the guidebook is anything to go by. The only real military action the castle saw was during the Civil War when a parliamentary army led by Lord Essex retreated to it prior to his escape by boat. The royalists, led by Sir Richard Grenville, took it for the crown.

Queen Victoria visited Restormel with Albert in 1846. She said, among other things, that “…it was very picturesque…“. Her son, the future Edward VII also visited in 1865. It has been looked after by English Heritage since 1984. It was wonderful.

The ferocious wind blew us both back down the hill to Sidney and we trekked home to the cottage. It was freezing so a fire was ignited. Just as the place warmed up and started to feel comfy, it was off to the Fox & Hounds for dinner.

I can’t recommend this pub too highly. The food is fantastic, the service is great, it’s lovely and warm and they serve St Austell’s Tribute which is one of the top 50 beers in the world. And I have to agree. It is a brilliant beer. I’m going to get me some of that!

Dinner was lovely (Mirinda had the lamb shanks, I had the pork fillet) and we were soon full and sleepy. Back to the cottage to stoke up the fire and gradually drift off to sleep.

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