Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens




Probably originating circa 1300, the main phases of building appear to have been started by Sir Richard Edgcumbe from 1485–89 and followed by his son, Sir Piers Edgcumbe, from 1489-1520. This house is one of the least altered of the Tudor houses in the United Kingdom. The first chapel at Cotehele House dates from around 1411, but only parts of the north and south wall of the original building survive. Piers Edgcumbe inherited Cotehele House in 1489. He married Joan Durnford in 1493 and she died in 1521. He remarried in 1525. Two important altarpieces commemorate the union of Edgcumbe and Durnford, so it is likely that the building work on the chapel was carried out during the early years of their marriage from 1493 onward. The alcove that houses the clock was added into the west wall of the chapel. It is likely that the clock was installed at the chapel between 1493 and 1521, with more probability towards the earlier date. The clock is acknowledged to be the earliest turret clock in the United Kingdom still working in an unaltered state and in its original position. It has no face, but is attached to a bell which strikes the hour. Unlike its contemporaries, the Cotehele clock was never converted to pendulum, which makes it the oldest original verge escapement and foliot clock in the world. Other clocks with this claim, such as the Salisbury cathedral clock, were converted and later retrofitted with a verge & foliot.


There are 100's of personal family treasures and items loaned from the local community in the ‘On the Homefront’ First World War exhibition in the Breakfast Room. There is an extensive collection of 16th and 17th century armour much of which may be tried on during open days. The gardens are magnificent. The outbuildings include a stone dovecote in a remarkable state of preservation. The grounds stretch down to a quay on the River Tamar where there is an outpost of the National Maritime Museum (as well as a tea shop). Separate mobility parking and drop-off point. Adapted toilets close to car park. Two manual wheelchairs available for loan (no charge). A shuttle bus to take you around the estate in the main season (most days) The old house has many stairs. The hall, kitchen and breakfast room are wheelchair accessible. A hand-held DVD telling the story of Cotehele is available - ask a room guide. The room guides can identify suitable objects that can be touched. The grounds are made of loose gravel paths and uneven cobbles. A map is available in reception for wheelchair users showing you accessible routes in the garden.

*** – Cotehele Quay – ***

The historic Cotehele Quay on the banks of the River Tamar was once a busy working quay where goods were shipped to and from Plymouth. Today it is a place for all to enjoy, a starting point to explore the wider Cotehele estate and where the Victorian Tamar sailing barge ‘Shamrock’ can be seen awaiting further conservation work.

In the 19th century, as local industries boomed, Cotehele Quay bustled with vessels loading and unloading cargo. Crowded paddle steamers travelled upriver from Plymouth to see the blossoming orchards for which the area was farmed and small boats carried market-gardening produce for sale at Devonport Market.

The pay and display car park on the quay is open from dawn to dusk. National Trust members can park for free by scanning their membership card at the parking machine.

You are welcome to enjoy a picnic on the quayside or in the picnic area, but please take any litter away with you. Sorry, but they do not permit the use of barbeques anywhere on the Cotehele estate, this includes the Quay and within their car parks.

The Piggery Kiosk, located near the house is now open daily and serving a limited range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and some light snacks. They’ve introduced new safety measures including closure of their seating areas, screens at their till and collection points, and waymarked routes. They’ll also only be accepting card payment. The NT look forward to welcoming you back and know that you’ll support them to make this a safe experience for everyone. The kiosk on the Quay remains closed for the foreseeable future.

*** – Cotehele Estate – ***

Open daily from dawn to dusk, the Cotehele estate spans 1,300 acres and includes woodland and fields, industrial ruins, flora, fauna and working farm buildings.

  • Chapel-in-the-Wood.
  • The Chapel-in-the-Wood marks the spot where Richard Edgcumbe I made a narrow escape from King Richard III's men in 1483. You'll find it overlooking the river and tucked into the woods at the bottom of the Valley Garden.
  • Prospect Tower.
  • Believed to be built in the late 1780s, its suggested that the Prospect Tower was erected to commemorate the visit of George III to Cotehele in 1789. No-one is certain of its intended purpose, but it is possible that the tower was built as an eye catcher as well as signalling tower should the need arise. The three-sided tower is open most days and you can climb to the top to see a panoramic view of the Tamar Valley. The NT are sorry that at the moment access to the Prospect Tower is restricted for the foreseeable future.
  • The quay to the mill.
  • You'll find Cotehele Mill just a half-mile up the Morden stream from Cotehele Quay. The path follows the stream under shady trees and is mostly level and wide enough for pushchairs, wheelchairs and the whole family. Please note that Cotehele Mill is now closed for the foreseeable future, but you are welcome to enjoy the meadow nearby.
  • Cotehele weir.
  • Walk alongside the Morden Stream, pass Cotehele Mill to find the weir that regulates the water flowing to the mill. A sluice gate allows the water to enter the leat. Water flows down the leat to the mill to turn the waterwheel.
  • Managing the estate.
  • They use planks made from Cotehele-grown oak and chestnut trees for benches and other projects around the estate. Volunteers build stone walls, maintain hedges and paths and in early spring the South Devon National Trust Volunteers clear reeds on the quay to allow for new growth. Work is completed before birds start to nest.
  • Walkies at Cotehele.
  • There's loads of space for your four-legged friends to stretch their legs around Cotehele, with miles of paths through the woodland, countryside and around the quay. They welcome dogs to join their owners inside the Barn restaurant by the house and the Edgcumbe tea-room on the quay and there's also plenty of outdoor seating at both these venues if you prefer. Please keep your dog under control at all times and bag and bin their poop to keep Cotehele safe and pleasant for everyone to enjoy. There are four dog waste bins on the estate, so you're never too far from one. You can download the NT walkies guide here which has a map showing the dog bin locations as well.


    Bridge at the Weir

    Bridge at the Weir

    *** – Facilities – ***


  • • They are sorry but the house, mill, restaurant, tea-room, gallery, shop, plant centre, Valley Garden and Prospect Tower are currently closed. Cotehele garden, toilets, countryside and quay are open.
  • • Please go here to book your visit.
  • • Parking is £3 per vehicle, and is free for members. No overnight parking or camping.
  • • The Piggery Kiosk is open from Mon 22 - Fri 26 Jun and will initially be serving a limited range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and some light snacks. From Sat 27 Jun the kiosk on the Quay will be open daily.
  • • Dogs on leads allowed on the estate, but not in the formal garden. Assistance dogs are welcome in the formal garden.
  • • BBQs and use of drones are prohibited across the entire Cotehele estate.
  • Family:-

  • • The play areas in the meadow by the house and on Cotehele Quay are currently closed.
  • Access:-

  • • Disabled car park available closer to the garden.
  • • There is no shuttle bus in operation until further notice.
  • • There is a one-way system around the garden which involves steps, signage is in place for alternative access for wheelchair users.

    Location : St Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TA

    Transport: Calstock (Tamar Valley Line) beautiful 1.5 mile walk. Bus Routes : Plymouth Citybus 79 to the Quay

    Opening Times : see above.

    Tickets : see above.

    Tel: 01579 3513466