A visit to Godolphin

Panoramic photo of the Godolphin and the circular driveway on a cloudy day.

Pat Smith explores the Godolphin Estate and discovers a house oozing with history in Poldark country, as well as a lovely walk with views of both coasts.

Godolphin is an ancient estate dating back to the 13th century. It was built by a family called Godolgan as a house with a wall or a moat to protect stock, produce and valuables from common thieves. In the late 15th century the family name changed to Godolphin and tin and copper lodes beneath the land were mined and exploited leading to a great increase in the family’s wealth. Subsequently much work was carried out on the estate, the house was rebuilt and deer and rabbit warrens were created for food and hunting.

Godolphin barn

Today’s structure is only part of what was once a very extensive granite-built fashionable Tudor and Stuart house which in 1689 boasted over 100 rooms and a magnificent medieval garden designed to impress royalty and visiting dignitaries. It is easy to imagine the Bassetts, Warleggans, Poldarks and the Godolphins and the other Poldark characters meeting here to map Cornwall’s history as we now know it!

A period of neglect through the 18th and 19th centuries led to much of the house being demolished. The estate was sold as a farm in 1937 and acquired by the National Trust in a state of disrepair in 2007.

You can explore the listed garden and the wider estate, with its historic Leeds Engine house and stack – the remains of the Godolphin family mine. You can also wander around the tranquil and mysterious woodland where years of mining have left an unnatural undulating landscape.

top-of-godolphin-hillI did the Godolphin Hill walk. It is a lovely ramble to the top of the hill which after a gentle climb boasts views over both coasts. On a clear day you can see St Michael’s Mount and St Ives Bay. It can be muddy, so I’d recommend wearing stout footgear.

There are free tours of Godolphin which run most days at 11am and 2pm. My tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and brought the history to life – it’s well worth trying to schedule your visit with the tour times. The garden and estate are open all year and there is a tea room in the old piggery which serves sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and hot drinks. As the house is let as a self-catering property, it is not always open. If you’re keen to see inside the house, you can check the opening times on the National Trust website before you visit.

Godolphin tour guide
Pat’s National Trust tour guide

Although I have lived in Cornwall for 30 years I had never visited Godolphin. I was lured there by my Nordic walking group, Walk Kernow and stayed to explore after the walk. It is a very secret and special place, and its fascinating story is one of Cornwall’s true historical page turners – I have definitely fallen under its spell and shall be returning to take a look inside the house and discover the magic there!

Visiting Goldolphin with children

Godolphin, like many of the places run by the National Trust, has acres of space. There are lots of secrets to discover here and plenty nooks and crannies to explore.

If you’re planning to visit Goldophin with kids, take a look at the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign, which aims to get kids enjoying the great outdoors through a range of activities. You could tick all these off your list with just one visit!

Climb a big hill…
…and roll down it again
Make a trail with sticks
Go barefoot
Dam a stream
Create some wild art
Go stargazing
Catch a falling leaf
Try bird watching
Find your way with a map and compass
Track a wild animal
Climb a tree

Getting there

Goldolphin is situated 7km north west of Helston and approximately an hour’s drive from Bosinver. Postcode for SatNavs: TR13 9RE

Have you been to Goldolphin or any other National Trust properties in Cornwall? We’d love to hear about your visits and find out what you enjoyed the most. Write a comment below, tweet @bosinver or post on our Facebook page.

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