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Cornwall’s Mount Edgcumbe Folly

The grounds of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park were described by Samuel Pepys in 1683 as “the most beautiful place as ever was seen” and this a sentiment is still held by visitors today. One place in particular within the parkland is a favourite with many. Standing on a hill overlooking the historically rich Plymouth Sound the view encompasses the wide sweep of water with the rolling landscape of Dartmoor beyond and in the foreground, drawing your eye, stands a rather curious tower, the Mount Edgcumbe Folly.

The folly was built in 1747 to replace an earlier navigation obelisk that had once stood close by. It was designed to be an artificial ruin, a fashionable garden feature of the time, and was constructed from stone taken from the churches of St George and St Lawrence at Stonehouse across the water in Plymouth. The tower, which you can still climb, is very distinctive and incorporates many ecclesiastical and medieval architectural features. It makes a great focal point for those walking in grounds of the wonderful Mount Edgcumbe estate.

The estate itself covers 825 acres of the Rame Peninsula, the headland that marks Cornwall’s border with England and a place of outstanding natural beauty. It includes not only the formal gardens close to the house but also miles and miles of winding coastal paths and shady woodlands which make the perfect place for a relaxing walk. Generations of the Edgcumbe family, which can trace its family tree back some 600 years in Cornwall, have each added to the well-established flower-filled formal gardens. From fountains, sculptures and avenues of ancient trees to forts and faux temples, there is plenty to explore.

It is also possible to visit the old house manor which was originally built in the early 16th century, nearly 100 years before the Mayflower set sail from just across the bay. There is history everywhere you look, including a number of canons positioned on an old battery and beyond the Napoleonic breakwater and fort in the distance. It is easy to imagine the numerous vessels from across the globe that would once have plied these waters.

For those feeling energetic there are five marked walking trails to help you navigate the extensive parkland, ranging from a four mile circular historic landscape walk to strolls through the magical grounds nearer to the house. Take in the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden, the Fern Dell and the Knot Garden and of course the iconic view of the folly.


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