Pelyn, Near Lostwithiel

Joy Wilson has been making great discoveries about the grounds at Pelyn, near Lostwithiel.

Pelyn is a woodland estate west of Lostwithiel in Lanlivery parish, owned by the Kendall family (except for a recent break of 20 years) for over 400 years.  In spite of a long history of occupation on this site there are presently no elaborate garden layouts or extensive rare plantings to record here.  The house, Grade II*, was built in 1601 with subsequent eighteenth-century and Victorian additions and has been home to this local gentry family, which has produced many MPs, lawyers and clergy through the years; typical Cornish squires.

In early 2006 I thought I was nearing the end of my recording after two years of pleasurable visits, tramping around the secluded wooded estate with its many historic features.  Then early last year there was a sudden and mysterious change of ownership.  The house and estate once more returned into the hands of the Kendall family, this time a branch with the full intention of restoring the house and grounds.  So more recording became necessary and I had not finished my task.  A wholesale clearance of huge laurels from the wide earth banks that define the layout of the early nineteenth-century pleasure garden revealed a massive granite water trough which had been completely concealed.  It had provided a reservoir and water source for parterre beds once laid out below.  The house itself is being extensively repaired and restored, and there is a consequent active interest from English Heritage in the decisions and changes now being made.

This led me to visit the local Planning Department to examine relevant planning applications to see the comments made by the EH team after they had held a site meeting at Pelyn.  From these I gleaned new information to include in the Record.  The EH archaeologists defined the probable site of the original mediaeval house this is relevant to the layout of the present garden and the surrounding ancient tracks that led down to the old house and which still exist.  EH also reported that the very unusual feature of nine stone-built corbelled ‘dog kennels’ set into a steep earth bank near the stable area, are similar to stone structures to be found at remote Codda Farm up on Bodmin Moor.

An amiable discussion and walk around with the new owners revealed that they were unaware of the antiquity of the pleasure garden layout, and of the early nineteenth-century trapezoid walled kitchen garden and bothy. These features they thought had been created only in the mid twentieth century. Since they appear on the 1839 tithe map and on a slightly earlier estate map I was able to plead for their preservation, and as the gardens at Pelyn are not listed, I hope that the information which I gleaned preparing the record might just help to protect them for the future.