Cornwall has a long history of the exceptionally wealthy and the exceptionally poor living side by side – if you’ve seen Poldark, you know what we’re talking about – and as such, there are countless engine houses and estates hidden in valleys and on cliff edges, just waiting to be explored.
Clinging onto the edge of Cornwall opposite Plymouth on the Tamar Estuary is the grand and beautiful Mount Edgecumbe Estate. The house is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgecumbe and was first built in the 1500s. It was restored after the Second World War to its former pre-war glory and is set within 865 acres of ground, which are free to the public to roam.
Straight out of the rabbit hole, Antony House was used in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland adaptation and still retains its charm of English country gent, with just a touch of naughtiness thrown in. The early 18th century house sits at the top of the sweeping grounds, which descend down to the towards the Lynher Estuary, making Antony the prettiest of cake toppings you ever did see.
Clinging to the cliffs in defiance against the sea are two of Cornwall’s most iconic engine houses. On the north cliffs at Botallack, these weather-beaten buildings are not only a symbol of the decline of Cornish mining, but the great risks that those in the industry once went to in order to make money. Now, you can walk down to the engine houses in hope of bumping into Aidan Turner with his broody smile, rather than in fear of going underground and never returning again.
Stuck off shore in Mount’s Bay and only accessible by a tidal causeway or boat, St Michael’s Mount – not to be confused with Mont Saint Michel in Brittany – is a rocky island crowned by a medieval church and castle. As with most places in Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount is said to be the product of a giant enduring heartbreak, although nobody has yet proven this. A walk around the battlements provides excellent views of the area.
Almost touching Porthmeor Beach, the Tate St Ives is a modernistic splendour of white and curves against the higgledy-piggledy houses haphazardly stumbling up the hill behind it. The lines of the Tate are clean and on a good day, it could blend in with the clouds lazily chugging across the summer sky.
Not only is Tregothnan House beautiful and the private garden is one of the finest in the country, but the team at Tregothnan make gorgeous tea on site. The grounds themselves are only open to the public once a year and tickets get scooped up like the last pasty going for £1 on a Friday afternoon, but it’s worth the battle. The tea, however, is sold all year round online and from many shops and tearooms around the county.