Glorious Pengreep, between Gwennap and Ponsanooth, in Cornwall, has been lovingly brought back from the brink and now needs a new owner to refurbish the main house.
One of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets has come onto the market for the first time in its three-hundred-year history, The secluded, 246-acre Pengreep estate, between Gwennap and Ponsanooth, in south Cornwall, is for sale through joint agents Jonathan Cunliffe in Falmouth and Lodge & Thomas in Truro at a guide price of £7 million.
The estate sits in its own woodland valley close to the towns of Truro, Falmouth and Redruth, and within seven miles of both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. Its focal point is Grade I-listed Pengreep House, which starred as the location for television adaptations of several Rosamunde Pilcher novels.
Although it has been re-roofed in recent years, the building needs refurbishing. It offers 10,000sq ft of living space on three floors, including an entrance hall, three formal reception rooms, a wonderful old-fashioned kitchen overlooking the gardens and seven first-floor bedrooms, as well as six attic rooms and extensive cellars.
Other estate houses include Snookers, the former billiard room, which was refurbished in 2015 and is now a charming one-bedroom apartment, and the converted former coach house, now a two-bedroom dwelling; Pengreep Barton, a detached three-bedroom stone farmhouse, has been partly refurbished.
Ripe for conversion are the Fig House, a large detached brick building set in its own walled garden; the Georgian former stable block with its traditional bell tower; and the period four-bedroom Crosspost Farmhouse, which could be extended by integrating the adjacent stone barns.
Pengreep House was originally a farmhouse, built in the early 18th century by the Beauchamp family, enlarged by them in the mid 18th century and further extended in about 1865 by John Williams, whose grandmother was a Beauchamp. Although it dates from three main periods, its 1967 listing maintains that ‘this is a predominantly mid-18th-century house and as such is a fine and complete example, retaining three virtually complete rooms of its earlier phase and with good quality circa 1865 additions’.
When Joseph Beauchamp died in 1818, the property was advertised for lease as: ‘The mansion house of Pengreep, together with the coach house, walled gardens, beautiful ponds, pleasure grounds, plantations and about 120 customary acres of meadowland, with several cottages for servants or labourers: the whole in high order and condition and fit for the residence of a large and genteel family.’
This part of Cornwall had been a centre for mining since prehistoric times and 17th-century Gwennap was reputedly part of ‘the richest square mile in the world’. Successive generations of the Williams family were prominent owners of mines, smelting works and quarries and John Williams’s wealth was reflected in the splendour of Pengreep House and its grounds.
To the north-east of the house are the foundations of a large Victorian conservatory that once overlooked formal gardens, now a plantation of camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.
Pengreep’s glory days were long gone when, in 1989, its present owner, Ben Mead, abandoned a career as a motorcycling journalist in London and returned to his Cornish roots with the aim of reviving the struggling estate.
With Britain sliding into recession, the outlook at the time wasn’t great — a fact hammered home in 1990, when a serious gale felled almost 200 trees on the estate.
Undeterred, Mr Mead worked hands-on with a band of skilled Cornish restoration specialists on a systematic renovation of the entire property. Over the years, nearly all the estate houses have been re-roofed and weather-proofed, with ‘boring but important’ elements of infrastructure, such as drives, access, farm buildings, cattle tracks, drainage, private water supplies, ponds, waterfalls and sluice gates, being repaired or overhauled.
The once magnificent gardens and pleasure grounds at Pengreep, which now await an avid gardener to re-tame the present ‘wild abandon’, include a two-acre walled kitchen garden with the remains of a series of heated greenhouses and a series of four stream-fed ponds — some two acres of water in all — that not only provide a romantic setting for the house, but contain naturally stocked brown trout and are a haven for herons, kingfishers, wild mallard, geese and other wildfowl.
As a Nuffield agricultural scholar, Pengreep’s owner was very much at home on the land, where he introduced modern methods of dairy farming and, from 2008 onwards, established organic farming on more than 170 acres of level or gently sloping land. The farm is also enrolled in a Countryside Stewardship Scheme that underwrites the capital cost of renovating the estate’s paddock fencing.
Gwennap: What you need to know
- Location: Gwennap is situated three and a half miles from Redruth and 8.9 miles from Truro
- Atmosphere: Once the centre of the Cornish mining industry, Gwennap also had a strong link to Methodism, with John Wesley, preaching to more than 32,000 people in the Gwennap Pit.
- Things to do: Explore Cornish heritage on the Cornwall Mining Trails or spend a day by the sea. Both the northern and southern Cornish coastlines are easily accessible, with surfing and sandy beaches along the former and sailing and boating along the latter
Schools: The well regarded Truro School and Truro High school (the latter for girls only) are within easy reach.
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