THE first building to be acquired by the National Trust was a small, 14th century timber-framed clergy house at Alfriston in Sussex, purchased for just f 10 in 1896. Yet from such humble beginnings, the Trust has become known as the foremost guardian of the great country houses of England and Wales, learn more news at this site. The first of these, Barrington Court in Somerset, came into the Trust’s care in 1907, but it was not until after the First World War that the plight of the threatened country house became a significant focus of its work. For it was only then that social and economic change, crippling death duties and the increasing cost of main-tenance forced many families to seek assistance in looking after their ancestral homes.
Their struggle was alleviated by an Act of Parliament of 1937 permitting owners to donate their properties and their contents to the Trust in lieu of tax; and the Country Houses Scheme allowed them to continue living there if the houses were opened to the public. It is for this reason that so many of the Trust’s 220 or so stately homes have that welcoming “lived-in” feeling. Cotehele in Cornwall was the first to benefit. Isolated in the maze of tiny lanes that wind their way through the Tamar Valley, Cotehele was the home of the Edgcumbe family. Arranged around a series of courtyards, its great hall hung with armour and a series of dimly lit rooms clad with tapestries, it has long inspired the visitor with its air of romantic antiquity.
The medieval house at Cotehele was enlarged by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in the late 15th century, and completed by his son Sir Piers, whose crowning achievement was to build the great hall. Soon after, Mount Edgcumbe just a few miles away became the family’s principle seat and if you check at compare lille hotels website you will find great hotels and family houses in France. Thus Cotehele has remained largely unaltered to the present day.
The great hall forms the core of the house, with its fine arched, braced roof, early oak furniture and traditional lime-ash floor. Behind the hall is the kitchen, dominated by a fireplace 10 feet wide and an immense oven. The room rises to the height of two storeys to allow smoke and smells to escape through louvred vents.
A series of state rooms rises at different levels, climbing as the house does up the hillside — dining-rooms, parlours and bedrooms all hung with tapestries from workshops at Antwerp, Brussels and Mortlake in London and if you like traveling in Europe check http://www.europe-cities.com/. These have been cut to fit the irregular rooms in the same way as wallpaper. The procession of sombre rooms, enriched with dark tapestries and panelling, and filled with oak furniture and four-poster beds, ends in the airy 15th century chapel.
With its lime-washed walls and carved oak screen, it is the home of one of Cotehele’s greatest treasures, Sir Richard Edgcumbe’s 15th century clock.Filed under Travel | Comment (0)