Trerice manor house is situated at Kestle Mill, near Newquay, hidden away amongst leafy Cornish lanes but well signposted if you approach from Summercourt on the A3058.
It is an Elizabethan manor house built by the Arundell family in 1572 and reputed to be Winston Graham’s inspiration for ‘Trenwith’, the Poldark family home. It was one of the filming locations for the first TV series of the Poldark novels.
We arrived on a showery May morning and were warmly welcomed by the ladies at reception, who furnished us with guides to the house and gardens and top tips for things to entertain two-year-old. The National Trust has really improved its offering for children in recent years, making them more welcome and providing them with fun trails with clues to engage them with the historic artifacts which tell the stories of the people who once lived there.
They have also played a hand in encouraging children to play outdoors with their free booklets entitled ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4‘. At Trerice they make suggestions for doing 8 of the 50 activities, including spotting bugs, walking barefoot in the grass, spotting birds, making a daisy chain, catching a falling leaf, making a trail with sticks and eating an apple straight from the tree.
As it was dry I decided to wander around the outside first. We started in the very pretty knot garden, a perfect place for genteel ladies to stroll and sit, beautifully planted and humming with bees. Next up was the kayling lawn, a flat area of grass with wooden skittles (with smaller versions for children), where we spent a happy half hour bowling the skittles down and picking them up again. Behind the Barn restaurant is the vegetable garden, greenhouse, a lovely wild garden where we spotted bugs, and a turf maze or labyrinth which kept Jasmine happy as she followed the mown paths to try and reach the middle.
It was lunch time by the time we had finished exploring the great outdoors (all completely buggy friendly) so we headed off to the lovely Barn restaurant to sample their wares. Food is usually good at National Trust restaurants with healthy offerings for adults and children (and good coffee, which is essential for me), so it’s a win win all round. The toilets are good too, with a large baby changing area to incorporate the pushchair, which makes my life easier!
Buggies and backpacks are not allowed in the house, but one of the guides locked mine away for me and offered me a hippy chick hip carrier. This was most helpful, although I didn’t need the carrier as Jasmine is happy to walk. The tour begins in the Great Hall with its massive table, huge fireplace and 576 pane mullioned glass window. There are items of armour here that you can try on and play with but they are really heavy!
The house is relatively small with only 11 rooms to explore (which we did quite quickly with a two-year-old in tow!) but most impressive for me was the plaster work on the barrel ceiling in Madam Arundel’s chamber. I also enjoyed being able to peep through the holes in the wall of the Minstrel’s Gallery to the Great Hall below.
You can imagine a family still living in the house, especially in the North Chamber, as this is still furnished as the last tenants, the Eltons, left it in the 1950s. Their photographs in the room reminded me of Max and Rebecca, famous characters of the Daphne du Maurier book.
We spent four happy hours at Trerice and were made to feel most welcome. It was a far cry from the days when anxious room stewards made visiting stately homes with young children bottom of my ‘to do’ list. Well worth a visit!
Trerice is approximately 25 minutes’ drive from Bosinver. Postcode for SatNavs: TR8 4PG.
Find out more
You can find information about opening hours, admission prices and events at Trerice on the National Trust website.
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