I had a real treat this May when we visited The National Trust Godolphin House, that opens for a just a few days each month.
From the walk through the bluebell woods, to the iconic ravaged time worn wooden doors; from the fabulous granite paving slabs, to the intriguing doorways that open to yet another vista of the house, Godolphin House was redolent with the simmering character of a place rooted in time.
Exploring Godolphin House
The walk from the car park across the Godolphin Estate is always a delight and especially when the Bluebells are in flower in the ancient woodlands there. You may remember my last visit when I walked through the woods to climb Godolphin Hill for the fabulous views but for this visit the house was beckoning.
My last visit there was when it was under the ownership of Mrs Schofield so I was intrigued to revisit the old historic house again.
An extraordinary amount of work has gone into reclaiming the ancient House of Godolphin that dates back to 15th-century and was once one of the most important in Cornwall which at its zenith had nearly one hundred rooms until it fell on hard times and was eventually used for tenant farmers.
True, part of Godolphin House has now been sensitively restored for modern self catering but I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I wandered below the clouds of wisteria filling an inner courtyard with a soft seductive perfume and gently entwining the ruins of stone mullion windows.
As we crossed the inner courtyard from the time-worn doorway to the house with returning swallows swooping overhead, I decided this must be what it would be like to live inside a fantasy from Instagram!
To one side of the building a range of buildings lays sensitively preserved but largely undisturbed the high status stonework whispering a story of Godolphins half forgotten past.
The renovation we see today treads a tight line between the need to earn its living as a modern self catering property with the sensitive addition of en suite bathrooms and sensible furnishings and respect for the ancient architecture.
Now replete with a soft classic country house style with a Farrow and Ball paint palette, the sunlight played on the timeless mullion windows and there was still the delicate tangible scent of wood smoke in the air that I remembered from my previous visit.
I almost expect to meet Poirot or Inspector Barnaby investigating a murder as we wandered through the relaxed interior and stopped to slot a small piece into a jigsaw puzzle or perched on a soft sofa to watch a DVD of the history.
The King’s Room
The suite of rooms on the upper floor grow grander with each doorway until we eventually reached the King’s Room that opens straight on to the 16th-century walled garden.
The garden at Godolphin House in May
Finally we emerged back into the sunlight into the King’s garden attached to Godolphin’s state room with a soft herbaceous planting and a layout probably unchanged since the 16th century.
I was intrigued to see the traditional Bee-Skeps set once more within the warm shelter of the walls and the promise of a cloud of rose blossom just about to break but that will be the highlight of the garden a little later in the month!
Godolphin House a very short history!
The earliest developments on the site was a castle built in 1300 but the house that we see today is largely Tudor and occupied by the Godolphin family from the 15th until the 18th-century. The house was expanded over the centuries and at one time stretched to one hundred rooms.
The Tuscan columns and a double-loggia on the north front survive as an unfinished project from 1630 by Frances Godolphin to redesign the House in neoclassical Italianate style interrupted by the civil war.
A large portion of the House was demolished in 1805 leaving the Tudor nucleus to act as a Farmhouse with the Elizabethan stables
When Is Godolphin House open?
Godolphin House opens generally opens for the first week of each month whilst the Grade one listed stables and the early garden remains open throughout the year. Check the National Trust website to confirm opening times
How to find Godolphin House
Godolphin House, Godolphin Cross, Helston, Cornwall, United Kingdom TR13 9RE
From Helston take A394 to Sithney Common, turn right onto B3302 to Leedstown, turn left, follow signs.
From Hayle B3302 to Leedstown, turn right, follow signs.
From the West, B3280 through Goldsithney, turn right at Townshend
All day parking charge is £3 per vehicle. National Trust members and blue badge holders park for free.