Pentillie Castle

May 22nd turned out to be a fine sunny day when over 20 CGT members were joined by 6 members from the Cornwall Association of Local Historians for this visit. We were first greeted by the owners Ted and Sarah Coryton beside a statue in front of the house. This was followed by a comprehensive illustrated talk by Ted on the history of the castle which was first erected in 1698 by James Tillie (1647-1713). Pentillie means the ‘house of Tillie’. Sir James, as he became, bought the knighthood from James П in 1682 and commissioned the statue of himself which was sculptured by Italian craftsmen and recently renovated by Andy Mitchell who recently restored the Albert Memorial, London.

Ted went through the numerous changes which have taken place to the castle and estate by comparing old plans dating from 1680 to more modern pictures. Humphry Repton had an influence on the development and we were shown several of his plans dated around 1810 which captured the views through the trees over the river Tamar to Devon. He made the unusual move of placing the walled kitchen garden away from the house. A series of photos dated 1908 and postcards dated 1930 showed the development and changes to the castle.

After the talk we were given the free run of the estate. We all went our different ways; some went over to the Mausoleum where Ted explained how Sir James was buried in a domed vault under granite slabs, sitting in a studded leather chair with instructions to the staff to bring food and drink. The burial chamber, down 8 granite steps, was opened in recent times to find human remains and a decomposed chair. A visit to the
walled kitchen garden on a slope showed the newly renovated wall coping. It was interesting to note that the walls were built following the contour of the land making the upright doorways look inconsistent. The wooden greenhouse complete with 4″ cast iron heating pipes has been splendidly renovated. Some effort is being made to make use of this large area to grow crops but the economics do not add up.

A plan of the estate with over 30 features to visit enabled a pleasant stroll in the sunshine to admire the numerous and varied plants and magnificent views over the river. A visit to the riverside boathouse was reached via a woodland walk with a magnificent range of wildflower en-route. I was impressed by the number and range of trees on and around the estate and was surprised to learn that none had been recorded. All this activity was capped with a superb cream tree in the castle where we were allowed to visit rooms on the ground floor to admire the numerous pictures, engravings, portraits and examine Humphry Repton’s Red Book.

The estate renovation in recent times has been assisted by various grants and income from events organised by the family. Income is from weddings, filming, garden tours, clay pigeon shoots, outdoor theatre, speed hill climbs and renting out accommodation. Maybe the ancient Cherry Pie Feast for local children will be revived.

David Pearce