Mrs JHP Finberg's illustration of Tavistock Abbey, from www.heritageintavistock.org
The beach at Rock, with Padstow in the background
Padstow - looking towards Trebetherick
Paul and I enjoyed four nights in Cornwall over last weekend. A friend had recommended Primrose Cottage B&B (see: https://www.primrosecottage-launceston.co.uk/) and it was a fabulous place to base ourselves for easy access to a number of the main towns and sights for both Cornwall and Devon. It is more than a B&B insofar as each of the ‘rooms’ are a suite of rooms ; we had a living room equipped with sofa, table and chairs and a full-size fridge and basic cutlery and crockery, the bedroom was large with a king-size bed, and leading off a small corridor was a decent sized bathroom, with good quality locally-made toiletries and plenty of cosy towels! The breakfast was plentiful, whatever your choice, and the bread was home-made! Yum. Upon arrival we were even served freshly baked scones and a Cornish Cream Tea - all on our private terrace overlooking the Tamar Valley. Nice. It is a peaceful place with only three ‘rooms’ and extensive gardens to wander through - encouraged to walk toward the river, and on the way to introduce ourselves to the owner’s pigs - Bacon One and Bacon Two!
The B&B was only 8 miles from Launceston– a normal, small town with a few dodgy looking pubs but some decent take-away places, and we found a decent subterranean Chinese restaurant, despite its unprepossessing exterior. Funnily enough, the building had a ‘blue plaque’ and had major links to NSW and Tasmania!
We were also only 14 miles from Tavistock although from the SAT NAV directions, which took us down routes with grass growing in the middle of the road, it sometimes felt we were in the back-end-of-beyond! We visited this town twice, once with friends and again for an evening meal and a much better choice of restaurants and ‘eateries’. I like Tavistock as it has some individuality and character, interesting architecture and is overall an attractive place.
Tavistock lies on the edge of Dartmoor, about 15 miles (24km) north of Plymouth. It is situated on the River Tavy from which its name derives, and is an ancient stannary town (tin-mining) and now enjoys its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1305, with the growing importance of the area as one of Europe's richest sources of tin, Tavistock was one of four stannary towns appointed by charter of Edward I, where tin was stamped and weighed and monthly courts were held for the regulation of mining affairs.
Tavistock therefore has great heritage provenance in trade, architecture, religion and manufacture, and was a central point for trade. In 1105 a Royal Charter was granted by Henry I to the monks of Tavistock to run a weekly "Pannier Market" (so called after the baskets used to carry goods) on a Friday, which still takes place today. In 1116 a three-day fair was also granted to mark the feast of Saint Rumon, another tradition that is still maintained in the shape of the annual "Goosey" fair on the second Wednesday in October. By 1185 Tavistock had achieved borough status, and in 1295 it became a parliamentary borough, sending two members to parliament. The abbey church was rebuilt in 1285.
In 1540 Sir Francis Drake was born at Crowndale Farm near Tavistock. Drake was a prominent figure of the time and a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world from 1577 to 1580 and one of the English commanders in the famously decisive victory against the Spanish Armada in 1588. Tavistock may be a small market town but it has a lot going for it!
We also visited a National Trust property in Cornwall - Cotehele - a Tudor house with superb antique collections, extensive gardens and quay. The 1,300-acre estate includes woodland and fields, industrial ruins, flora, fauna and working farm buildings.
Cotehele was the ancestral home to the Edgcumbe family for over six centuries. The Tudor house, perched high above the River Tamar, is decorated with tapestries, arms and armour, pewter, brass and old oak furniture. The déecor and furniture collection reflects the antiquarian taste of the Georgian age; the Edgcumbes developed the interiors between about 1750 and 1860 in a deliberate attempt to evoke a sense of nostalgia and recreate the atmosphere of the 'good old days'.
The house is an architectural hotchpotch, mainly re-built in Tudor times. The chapel at the main house was first consecrated in 1411, and was re-modelled in the early 1500s. Another building, the Chapel-in-the-Wood, marks the spot where Richard Edgcumbe I made a narrow escape from King Richard III's men in 1483. Apparently, when his hiding-place was discovered, he avoided capture by filling his cap with stones and throwing it into the river, fooling his pursuers into thinking he had drowned. After his escape he fled to Brittany and joined Henry Tudor with whom he returned to England in 1485. He was knighted later that year after the Battle of Bosworth, where Henry Tudor and the Lancastrians were victorious.
Getting away from formal history we also spent a day indulging my reminiscences of and nostalgia for a number of childhood holidays spent at a small village called Trebetherick, near Rock and Padstow. Of course, the latter is now synonymous with the chef and TV presenter Rick Stein, and the locals refer to the town as ‘Padstein’ apparently! So, nowadays, I would recommend visiting for a tourist ‘fix’ but only out-of-season! It would be my worst kind of nightmare in July and August when a lot of families descend with screaming kids and grumpy grandparents and the narrow streets are at a stand-still with too many and too big vehicles. Hurrumph!
An aside: Liability gardening update:
Despite, or because of, the rain we have experienced this month, the garden is having a major growth spurt and a fit of fecundity. This weekend we have enjoyed digging up some of our First Earlies (potatoes) and podding broad beans.