April 4, 2013
Lanhydrock is one of those grand country estates that give you intense house envy – 50 stunning rooms bursting with Victorian opulence give an incredible, eye-opening ‘how the other half lives’ experience. If you enjoyed Downton Abbey on television, here’s your chance to really immerse yourself in the real thing.
Arriving at Lanhydrock, you enter through a 17th century gatehouse and into a topiary courtyard that sets the scene beautifully. There’s plenty of space for children to explore, with open parkland, woodland and riverside paths plus an adventure playground. There are formal gardens and sweeping views over rolling countryside – it’s the definition of idyllic.
Inside, the house feels less like a static museum and much more like a fully occupied residence; you expect to turn a corner and bump into one of the Victorian inhabitants. This is not a ‘don’t touch’ environment – there are tables full of household objects and toys to handle and examine, opened letters to read, fires burning in the grates and vegetables ready for preparation in the kitchen – and the atmosphere this creates is totally absorbing. There are three separate house ‘trails’ for children to follow depending on their age.
Lanhydrock starkly demonstrates the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ nature of the Victorian society, with the luxury of the resident family’s areas, with its smoking rooms, lavish drawing rooms and bedrooms in glaring contrast with the servants’ much more utilitarian quarters below.
Although the house at Lanhydrock is closed for most of the winter, it briefly opens over Christmas with weekend visits from Santa, Victorian crafts to try and beautiful decorations in keeping with the period – the Victorians established many of the Christmas traditions we still observe today so this is the perfect place to explore their origins. The Lanhydrock Servants’ Hall restaurant serves festive meals during this time.
Facilities at Lanhydrock include a café with both indoor and outdoor seating, a restaurant with a good children’s menu, a plant centre, second-hand bookshop and gift shop. Dogs are welcome in the grounds but not in the house or the café. Most of Lanhydrock is accessible to wheelchair users; there are wheelchairs available for loan.
Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 5AD, Tel. 01208 265950