A Summer’s Day at Trelissick
Trelissick – Day 5 in Cornwall
We could have gone anywhere on our last day in Cornwall. We could have gone to Truro, the Eden Project, Lands End. Cornwall at the time last year was in a midst of a plague of tourists. The biggest plague in living memory. That’s how the locals would have probably described it.
We could have gone anywhere, but we looked at doing something more leisurely for the day. Something to avoid the masses of tourists – or at least avoid most of them. Something like a walk for example. After all, Ash is a big fan of those.
We looked at some of the National Trust and Cornish tourist literature online. A lot of recommendations pointed to a place called Trelissick. And we remembered from our walks in Falmouth that there was a regular ferry from the harbour that takes you straight there. And the weather was glorious, so what better day to go and explore.
Journey to Trelissick
As recommended by past visitors, the best (not necessarily the quickest) way to get to Trelissick is via ferry from Falmouth Harbour. For £8 return, I thought it seemed a little pricey just to get from A to B. However the experience and views you get during the journey make it good value for money.
We had the opportunity of sailing through the harbour, and passing by the large towering ships of the Royal Fleet Auxillary as well as the docks. We sailed through the Carrick Roads and up the River Fall, waving at passing small boats and anchored yacht hobbyists cooking barbeques on the many beaches dotted around. We admired the exclusive houses lined across various spots of the riverside. All of this – beauty for the eyes before we finally landed at the pier at Trelissick.
Making our way up
What we didn’t realise at the time is that we had reached the back end of the Trelissick estate, and we had a fair way to go before we reached the main entrance.
That was just the start of it.
What else we didn’t know was once we walked off the pier, was the long winding path going up a steep incline. After the walks we’ve had in Cornwall, Ash by then was convinced I’m doing this to spite her. I just found it mildly amusing she had to stop so regularly. Of course the heat didn’t help matters (poor thing).
It wasn’t so bad once we’d reached the top. There was only another long straight path which was obstructed by a small wooden hut. Perhaps this was the entrance. We found a charming posh old lady ready to greet us and scan our National Trust cards.
As the heat was still rising (it was only lunchtime), we thought it would be good and get some respite, so we also bought some ice-creams before we carried on up the rest of the path, which seemed to have no end through the jungle of trees. I think for me by this point, it looked like torture by long winding paths.
We realised, after looking at the property map the lady kindly gave us, that we had reached the outer gardens – there was just so much of it to walk through.
Journey through the property
Before long, we finally reached the more formal gardens of the estate. We had to walk through these in order to get to the main entrance. By the time we reached there, we realised it could have been easier to drive, as we’d also ended up at the main visitors’ car park of the estate.
One thing I did notice at the car park was the impressive medieval looking Water Tower. Looking up at it, I felt like the prince looking up at Rapunzel, hoping for her to let down her hair so I may climb up that golden stair, to rescue her. Somehow I don’t think Ash would have been impressed. So that idea went out of the window.
Originally erected as an actual water tower, this Gothic-style structure was erected in the early 19th century. This was then converted into an apple store. Today, I believe you can now rent this building as holiday accommodation.
First on the agenda
Before we carried on walking through Trelissick’s delights, we decided to do things back to front. The gift shop was first on the agenda. As with most National Trust gift shops, the usual touristy things were sold – books, organic perfumes, tea towels, local produce, elephants. I usually buy a fridge magnet when I visit somewhere – just a small souvenir of the place.
We then walked through throngs of dogs and dog owners (Trelissick seems a popular place to take your dog out for a walk) to go to the bathroom. And as the weather was very warm that day, we thought we’d stock up at the cafe to buy some overpriced water (bring your own if you can), as well as more ice-cream.
Going through the main entrance, we realised we were backing up on ourselves and going back down the route we had originally come from. We thought it was a mistake. but then we were first directed to the old stables, where was a small display detailing the kind of activities that happened there. I love horses, but that didn’t stir any interest in me at all.
That lasted all of 5 minutes, if that. We then left the stables and made our way to the mansion – the entrance of which I found very confusing. Because there was renovation work being down at the time, we couldn’t work out whether the entrance to the house was open, or closed.
Now naturally, because of the renovation work taking place at the entrance, I wasn’t impressed at first. However, those first-time impressions were forgotten once we stepped inside.
All the rooms were in really great condition. The kitchen looked very modern and inviting. There were some indications of art deco style furnishings. This and the rich golden colour of the wall interiors gave the place a very relaxed atmosphere – there was an added touch where the piano in the lounge was able to be played by visitors.
I was even more impressed with the Solarium. I found it a little small, but its high glass roof lets in a lot of light, giving it a spacious feel. What caught our eye even more though were the beautiful views out onto the River Fal from the lounge.
The only disappointment to the mansion was that we couldn’t access anything upstairs. Perhaps there was more renovation going on there, but I’m sure people will be in for a treat once the mansion is fully opened.
Leaving the mansion wanting more, we approached the terrace where we had some very clear views of the River Fal leading out to the Carrick Roads in the distance.
Trelissick has had a long list of owners since its initial beginnings as a farm. In 1705 the estate was occupied by the Lawrence family. Trelissick was leased in 1747 from John Willyams, and was succeeded by his son, John, in 1750. Soon after inheriting, a mansion was built at Trelissick. The estate was then divided in 1790 after John’s death.
Soon after, Trelissick was let to Francis Pender, while other parts of the estate were let to Ralph Allen Daniell. After experiencing money problems and the resulting legal implications, the Lawrence family sold Trelissick in 1805 to Ralph Allen Daniell.
A succession of mining and agricultural depressions in the 19th century significantly left the Daniell family bankrupt. At the time Viscount Falmouth of Tregothnan held a mortgage over Trelissick and subsequently came into his hands. The estate was finally sold in 1844 to John Davies Gilbert. Under his ownership Gilbert restored the house and grounds to their former glory and was left to his young son Carew Gilbert in 1854. The estate was let in 1899 to George Cookson who made further improvements to the gardens and pleasure grounds. Carew died in 1913 and the estate was divided up, with the house and gardens let to former Governor of the Bank of England, Leonard Cunliffe, who then purchased the freehold interest in 1928. When he died in 1937, Trelissick was passed on to his step-daughter, Mrs Ida Copeland and her husband.
The Spode connection
The Copelands originally lived in Staffordshire where Mr Copeland was managing director of the china company W T Copeland and Sons Ltd – producer of Spode tableware. In 1955 Mrs Copeland gave 376 acres of garden, park, and woodland to the National Trust while the mansion remained with the family passing on to her son in 1964.
The National Trust has since maintained and developed the gardens. But I’m not sure who now owns the mansion.
The current mansion was built in 1755. However, as Trelissick estate changed hands over the centuries, it’s clear to see that with each new owner, the building has become a patchwork of differing backgrounds and ideals.
The main core of the mansion is mid-18th century built for John Lawrence by the architect Edmund Davey. In 1825 P F Robinson remodelled the existing house, which included adding a classically inspired parapet. The building in its present form took shape in the late 19th century when Piers St Aubyn added extra storeys to the east and west wings of the house for Carew Davies Gilbert. The solarium to the east of the building was constructed by L D Cunliffe in 1933 which replaced the original timber conservatory that was in its place before.
PHEW! That was a lot of info!
With the day a little cooler than earlier, the sun was still beating down upon us. At this point, it was a good idea for us to go into the gardens and escape the heat by sitting beneath the canopy of tree cover for a while. At the same time, the heat also started affecting the camera on my smartphone. Because of this I was only able to take a few limited snaps.
Once we’d recovered, I tried to convince Ash to go on a long-ish kind of walk, to which a resounding ‘no’ came out of her mouth. However, we went for a walk anyway, albeit a leisurely one.
We weren’t sure what we had done with the map (probably dropped it somewhere), so we wandered around aimlessly with the aim of getting lost.
I’m not sure we did get lost. In fact it’s impossible to get lost with the amount of signs dotted around the place. But there were plenty of long paths, winding paths, short paths, makeshift paths, a summer house and a tennis lawn. And I can remember us walking amongst the fine collections of exotic plants, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and camellias. All mainly under cool cover of the tall and majestic tree canopies.
It’s worth mentioning that a lot of the flowers grown at Trelissick were used as models to use when painting on Spode tableware.
We even managed to stumble along an orchard of apple trees at the far end of the gardens. With a restored apple press included. Unfortunately no photo of this – you’ll have to take my word for it.
From what I’ve researched, there was no primary designer of the gardens. However, it seems that the tennis lawn was originally a croquet lawn created at the turn of the 20th century. The more formal lawns were developed in the 19th century, replacing an orchard (perhaps apples). And finally the woodlands surrounding the estate were developed in the mid to late 19th century by John Davies Gilbert and Carew Davies Gilbert.
Apart from the house and gardens, there were a further 300 acres to explore. Unfortunately for me, it was too late in the day to carry on – in any case, Ash would have protested.
We retraced our original route into Trelissick and headed back to the pier. The day was much cooler by then, and the journey to the pier back was pretty much downhill, so this made the walk more bearable and almost effortless.
While waiting for the ferry back to Falmouth, we stood on the pier, watching closely a car ferry nearby us saunter along. Ferrying cars from one side of the river to the other, and picking up the opposite traffic to do the same again.
We were also distracted by a tall and confident chap interacting with the small crowd beginning to gather on the pier with what I assume was his mother. I’m not sure who he was, but there seemed to be an air of attraction around him. I mean, nearly everyone had their attention focused on this one person. Ash had a vague recognition of him, but couldn’t quite get his name out from the depth of her mind.
Me? I was wondering what the fuss was all about. He couldn’t be that famous, could he? Opportunity lost I guess.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my visit to Trelissick. Although I wasn’t completely wowed by the gardens, they were still beautiful enough to take in and admire either by taking or walk, or even sitting on the shaded patches of lawn.
The views of the River Fal are simply magnificent and breathtaking from certain angles. Looking out to the river gives me a feeling that you’re far removed from the rest of the world, safe from its worries and troubles.
The mansion could be considered the centrepiece of the whole estate. Although still going under some restoration, there is very much a relaxed atmosphere as soon as you walk inside. Compound that with the river views from the front windows, and you almost have bliss (if it weren’t for the tourists).
The history of Trelissick tells you a number of things. Although these families were living privileged lifestyles, privilege is something that can be precarious and fragile. Things never stay the same. Fortunes that are built or acquired can easily disappear, much as the families who have come and gone from the estate. This is something that we can all learn from here.
The estate has changed hands many times over the last three centuries, and all have left their mark. Whether that is through additions to the gardens or the mansion. These marks indicate owners with different viewpoints and backgrounds. Different goals and values. However, they all share one common vision.
Trelissick is home.
|Opening times||Trelissick is open most days of the year. However, the House can have varying hours. It's a good idea to check the Trelissick National Trust website first before making your journey there.|
|Getting there||You can get there by car via the A39 from Truro or Falmouth, but that would be too easy. You'll need to pay for parking, so have some spare change for you. Or if you're a National Trust member, parking is free. Take advantage and join the National Trust now!
I would recommend taking the ferry from Falmouth - this is a more scenic and stress-free route. If you're coming in from Falmouth, you can buy tickets at the harbour or buy online where it's cheaper. There are also ferries to Trelissick from Truro and St Mawes. For more information on the ferries go to the Fal River website.
If you're coming by train, come off at Truro station, and make your way to Harbour Masters where you can get on the Trelissick ferry. Just be aware, at low tide, the ferry may not be able to pick up. When that happens, you will be taken to an alternative ferry point further down the rive where you'll catch the ferry from there.
|Best time to go||Summer is best for the weather - but can be very busy with visitors. If you're flexible with your time, the spring is also a great time to go and see the Rhododendrons and Camelias in full bloom.|
|Costs||Prices range between £7.00 for children up to £35.00 for a family ticket. This includes entry into the house and garden.
National Trust members gain free entry and parking. I keep saying that National Trust membership is great value, and it is!
Take advantage and join the National Trust now!
|More information||Become a National Trust member:
Trelissick (National Trust) website:
Fal River website (Trelissick Ferry):
Train tickets can be booked through GWR. Book early for the best discounts: