Antony House, Garden and Woodland Garden

Friday 25th April turned out to be a brilliant day, warm and sunny, when some 25 members and guests were made most welcome at Antony House by the Trust’s President, Sir Richard Carew Pole.

For most, a drive through the Glyn Valley and along the A374 beside the river Lynher, gave members a taste of thing to come, with the trees looking so fresh and colourful against the blue sky. A cup of coffee on arrival was much appreciated.

Sir Richard took us first to the front of the house and, with the aid of large photographs, explained the development and various changes to the house over the years. The house was built for Sir William Carew between 1711 and 1721 on the estate that had been in the Carew family since the sixteenth century. Humphry Repton came to Antony in 1792, with his suggestions being recorded in his Red Book. Although his suggestions for landscaping were accepted, his recommendations for the house were not! The house, overlooking the river Lynher is faced with Pentewan stone and flanked by colonnaded wings of brick.

Sir Richard listed five components of the estate:

  • The architectural aspects of the house;
  • The contents of the house pictures, furniture etc;
  • The family archives and the history of the families in the house;
  • The formal gardens around the house; and
  • The wider landscape with views to the River Lynher.

The Carew Pole family reside in the house and entrusted the house and formal garden to the National Trust in 1961. The Woodland Garden is owned and run by the Carew Pole Charitable Garden Trust.

 CGT group listening to Sir Richard Carew Pole explaining the history of the Burmese bell.

CGT group listening to Sir Richard Carew Pole explaining the history of the Burmese bell.

We were then taken into the house via the porch and in through the front door. The rooms have Dutch oak panelling on which hang a large collection of portraits; they also contain fine collections of 18th century furnishings and textiles and numerous books. There have been several architectural changes in the house, for instance stone floors have been replaced with wood. We were taken into various rooms and, by means of the portraits, Sir Richard and Lady Mary were able to show us the family history. We were particularly shown a portrait of Richard Carew (1555- 1620), a well-educated historian who wrote the History of Cornwall in 1602, and a portrait of Sir Richard as a boy. The family names of Pole and Carew were explained leading to the present Carew Pole nomenclature.

A conducted tour of the formal gardens of Antony House followed, where we heard about the National Collection of Hemerocallis (610 cultivars) initiated by his wife in the 1960s. We saw a collection of sculptures and stone carvings from the North West Frontier of India and a temple bell from Burma brought back to Antony House by Sir Richard’s grandfather, General Sir Reginald Pole-Carew. The tour was undertaken in pleasantly warm sunny weather before we assembled in the tea room for a buffet lunch.

After lunch we were joined by Valerie Anderson now retired as Head Gardener at Antony but maintaining her links with the 50 acre Woodland Garden. Valerie and Sir Richard then led us on a conducted tour and shown the various camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias growing on the sides of a valley. These plants are now well established and there is a policy of on- going planting to replace those which reach maturity in the future. There are over 300 varieties of Camellia japonica which form part of the National Collection of Camellias. The Woodland Garden has been recognised as an International Camellia Society Garden of Excellence. On the lower level we were treated on one side to the scenery beyond the blue waters of the river Lynher over to Ince Castle and Antony Passage and, on the other side, a magnificent display of bluebells amongst the trees. Here we saw sculptures such as Ellis O’Connor’s Wrapt and Tim Shaw’s Green Man in the Grotto and passed the Georgian Pond Bath house constructed in 1789.

After a stroll back to the house through more colourful planting, Sir Richard was thanked for giving us such a delightful time on a perfect spring day and we all made our way home after a thoroughly enjoyable day.

David Pearce