Last weekend, taking advantage of some glorious late summer weather, we drove up to Trerice, a small but exquisite Elizabethan Manor House near Newquay. The last time we visited was almost certainly before lockdown and I’d forgotten what a gem it is.
Unlike the large and flashy prodigy houses which were built during the Tudor and Jacobean periods such as Hatfield Hall and Montacute, Trerice is made on a domestic scale and in my eyes is all the better for it. It feels like a proper home rather than a showpiece.
The Arundell family had owned the manor of Trerice since the medieval period but after rising to prominence under Henry VIII and furthering their position during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, they needed a home more suitable to their status. Work began on the present house in 1572 under the aegis of Sir John Arundell.
The Arundells were fierce loyalists and Sir John’s heir was responsible for defending Pendennis Castle against Cromwell’s forces during the Civil War. His politics cost him dearly; the family’s estates were seized by the Commonwealth but were restored under Charles II and the then head of the family, Sir Richard, was created Baron Arundell in recognition of the support he and his father had given the monarch.
In 1675 John, the second Baron Arundel married Margaret Acland from Killerton in Devon. The family never lived in the house, although they sometimes used if for lavish entertaining, as evidenced buy the enormous table which was built in situ in the Great Hall.
The Acland family sold the house and estate in the early 20th century. It changed hands several times after that until it was acquired by the National Trust in 1953 and occupied by the Elton family on a repairing lease.
Like many Elizabethan houses, Trerice was built in an E shape in honour of Elizabeth 1 but over time, it lost one of its wings, presumably through neglect or damage.
The facade has ornate Dutch gables and an enormous glazed window and many of the 576 panes are original. There are superb plaster ceilings in the great hall, and great chamber, a long gallery and a solar which allows light to flood into the great chamber.
Houses evolve over the years and Trerice is no different. The Elton family restored the house, adding a Delabole slate roof and re-building one one wing, not as a slavish copy of what would have been there originally but as a family home. It’s rather charming, particularly the bathroom.
Outdoors there’s plenty to explore with a potager and a recreation of an Elizabethan knot garden. There’s a nice little secondhand bookshop too and, of course, the inescapable National Trust cafe and shop.