Godolphin House, Cornwall

Godolphin House, Cornwall

Godolphin House, Cornwall, is a granite-built, Tudor and Stuart, grade I listed mansion, 7 miles north-west of Helston. The National Trust acquired the estate (555 acres) in 2000, but not the house or gardens. It still has its Elizabethan stables and its very early formal gardens (c.1500), orchards and spectacular bluebell woods (April to May).

A massive restoration programme on the house is under way, funded in part by a large English Heritage grant. A garden revival programme is planned in the late medieval Side Garden.

The Godolphins were one of the leading families of west Cornwall, and they made money from mining - there was a local Godolphin Mine,

Sir William Godolphin, a soldier in the time of Henry VIII, and Sir Francis Godolphin, Governor of the Scilly Isles, both made extensions to the house in the 16th century

The 17th century saw further improvemrnts, with the next generation (son William) adding in 1630's the present north entrance to replace the screen wall. There is a 'King's Room' in which Prince Charles, later Charles II, is believed to have stayed after his escape from Pendennis Castle on his way to the Isles of Scilly, of which Sir Francis Godolphin was then Governor.

By 1689 Godolphin House contained 100 rooms or more. William Godolphin's grandson, Sidney Godolphin, was Queen Anne's Lord Treasurer between 1702 - 10 during the Duke of Marlborough's wars in Europe. His son married Marlborough's daughter, he himself was created Earl of Godolphin.

The 1st Earl and 2nd Earls spent very little time in Godolphin. Apparently the house is haunted by the White Lady. The ghostly apparition is said to walk along the path leading from the house to the Chapel. Her ghostly funeral procession has also been seen along the 'Ghost path' as it is known. The ghost is thought to be the figure of Lady Margaret Godolphin, wife of the first Earl, who died in child birth. She is said to appear on the anniversary of her funeral.

When 2nd Earl died in 1766 the estate passed to the Duke of Leeds, through his marriage to the 2nd Earl's daughter. The duke's of Leeds did not live here either. And in 1805 much of the house was demolished, including the 16th century hall which is now just a ruin .

The Duke of Leeds sold the house in 1929 and it was acquired by the present owners, the Schofields, in 1937

The rooms are furnished with suitable furniture and tapestries. Some of the furniture is original to the house, having been bought back by the Schofields.

The Entrance Hall has a splendid 16th century chimneypiece but the finest decoration in the house is found in the Dining Room. This has linen-fold panelling and carved beams dating from the early 16th century. On the wall is a painting of the 2nd Earl's famous stallion 'Godolphin Arabian' by John Wooton dated 1731. The Godolphin Arabian was one of three great Arab stallions brought to England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, from which most modern thoroughbreds are descended.

On the first floor a passageway leads to the west range which housed the principal reception rooms at Godolphin's peak in the 17th century. Most of the rooms are simply decorated but the King's Room (the original Great Chamber) has an ornately carved doorway dating from 1604 which commemorates the wedding of Sir William Godolphin to a daughter of the Sidney family.

Historic House Cornwall Map