Massive English Heritage Grant Rescues Listed Cornish House

By David Prudames | 14 August 2003
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Shows a photograph of a man up a stepladder rubbing down a stone fireplace, with an ornate painted screen standing to the right of the image.

Photo: the finishing touches are put to the Godolphin Room. Courtesy of Godolphin House.

The future of one of Britain's most important historic buildings, the 15th century Godolphin House in Cornwall, has been secured thanks to a massive grant from English Heritage.

At £879,000, the grant is the largest English Heritage has ever awarded to a secular building in the South West and has contributed to a three-year conservation project.

Grown wealthy from the local tin mining industry, the Godolphin family built the imposing granite structure more than 500 years ago near the town of Helston.

Although virtually unaltered since its heyday in the 18th century, the house has endured a process of steady decline. However, following extensive repair and conservation work, one of Cornwall's most visited tourist attractions can now continue pulling in the crowds.

English Heritage conservation architect Rebecca Childs, who oversaw the work, explained what makes Godolphin House such an important historic monument.

"As well as surviving medieval parts, Godolphin has outstanding 16th and 17th century rooms and wonderfully undulating scantle-slate roofs – a kind only found in Devon and Cornwall."

Shows a photograph of a light stone house.

Photo: the newly repaired West Range of the Grade I Listed house as seen from the King's Garden. Courtesy of Godolphin House.

Now complete, the work, undertaken by Cornish and West Country tradesmen and architects, has opened up rooms and features previously too perilous for public view.

Visitors now have access to the King's Room, Withdrawing Room and Godolphin Room, open for the first time in 10 years.

The house's roof has been relaid and repaired by a local specialist using a traditional wooden pegging method, while its granite walls have been tied together using high tech criss-crossing steel ties and traditional earth and lime mortars.

English Heritage money was also used to repair what is believed to be Britain's oldest pine floor, dated by dendochronologists at Sheffield University back to 1630.

Joanna Schofield, whose family have owned the house since 1936, added: "About 10% of gross revenue goes on general building maintenance, but without the English Heritage grant, major repairs and conservation would have been impossible."

The house is surrounded by Cornwall's oldest formal garden, which dates back to around 1500 and is currently owned and maintained by the National Trust.

A designated Area of Great Lanscape Value, the 555 acre estate has over 400 archaeological features ranging from Bronze Age enclosures to dramatic 19th century tin mining buildings.

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