This lovely stately home stands in around 900 acres of land on the banks of the upper river Fowey near Respryn bridge. It has been owned and managed by the National Trust since 1953. Much of the existing house can be found to date back to Victorian times but some older areas date from the 17th century and hold stories from the english civil war and King Charles. It is a Grade I listed building and is set in some beautiful gardens with formal areas, a hillside of shrubs and trees surrounded by a fine ancient woodland. After an incredibly destructive fire in 1881 the house from the times of King James 1st was refurbished in the Victorian style.
The gardens surrounding the house are a must to see, be sure to make time to take a ramble around the extensive gardens and enjoy their year-round colour. There are some lovely herbaceous borders, a fabulous formal featured garden with manicured parterres and hedges that truly capture the images of English stately homes and French chateaus.
Looking into the gardens from the gatehouse can be seen the hill behind the house which is amassed with colourful shrubs such as Hydrangeas, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons as well as some specimen trees.
It is said that during the civil war in 1644, a significant battle was won in the area by King Charles & after the battle he rode from Boconnoc across Respryn bridge and up through the grounds of the estate to visit Lanhydrock, after the war, it is said that the avenue of trees leading up to Lanhydrock House from Respryn Bridge was planted by Lord Robartes to celebrate his party’s victory.
Walking up the beautifully long drive to Lanhydrock I noticed this tree fabulous trunk to the side of the drive, I could only wonder if this was one of the original trees planted by Lord Robartes to mark the victory of the civil war and the route King Charles took to Lanhydrock from Respryn bridge all those years ago. The tree stump itself is proud and majestic, the way its weathered silver colour blends beautifully with the green’s blue’s and yellow of Spring.
The vast estate is well worth exploring too especially the ancient woodlands that shroud the banks of the river Fowey from the medieval Respryn bridge providing us with tranquil riverbank paths and trails. So as you leave the house, pass through the gatehouse and make your way down the driveway towards the ancient medieval bridge of Respryn.
The bridge itself is a 5 arched mediaeval bridge of granite construction, prior to the bridge there was a ford here. The central pointed arch dates to the fifteenth century and probably represents part of the original construction which replaced the earlier thirteenth century bridge. The other arches are round and the two on the west are of relatively modern construction.
The Cornish historian Henderson notes that in the year 1300 a jury found that the fishing and other rights in the river Fowey ‘from St Saviour’s Port (Polruan) at the river mouth to the Bridge of Respryn Lanhydrock belonged to the Lords of Restormel Castle. Interestingly the bridge at Respryn is the first road crossing of the river Fowey above the ancient stannary town of Lostwithiel.
There is however a small bridge over the river below Restormel Castle which offers a delightful circular walk from Mellingey house along Restormel road to the castle then over the river through the woods to the Duchy of Cornwall nursery and then back into the town of Lostwithiel.
A slight digression, from the topic of Respryn walks I feel, but perhaps a bonus if you’re thinking of visiting Restormel castle as well as Lanhydrock and Respryn! So back to the bridge at Respryn, should you be here around Easter time or before you may have the pleasure of first carpets of Blue bells followed by a great show of daffodils! The walk downstream is a very pleasant level stroll alongside the riverbank through the trees with lovely dappled sunshine on a clear day.
So enough talking, here are some images taken along the walk down the river from the bridge, enjoy…
Mellingey house is itself on the river Fowey with some lovely local walks around Lostwithiel, but there are many beach, coastal and woodland walks like this just a few miles away!