Newest Review: ... out before you get there. From the avenue, you are given your first glimpse of the house. There is a impressive gate house with its ow... more
Member Name: mosaic369
Date: 18/08/09, updated on 19/08/09 (244 review reads)
Advantages: Magnificent setting, beautiful gardens, lots of rooms open to the public
Disadvantages: Scary old ladies shouting at tourists for taking photos
We visited Lanhydrock House near Bodmin in Cornwall on a rainy day while we were on holiday in August 2009. It is owned by the National Trust and the admission fee was a hefty £10.40 for adults. Luckily, we had a 2 for 1 voucher through M&S, plus under-fives go free, otherwise I'm not sure we would have been willing to pay the full £26 entry fee for just the three of us! I always feel these places are way overpriced, but that's just the way it is, I guess.
We found the place quite easily with the help of our GPS (postcode: PL30 5AD). We had no problem with parking, although the car park filled up very quickly just after we arrived at around 11 am. The National Trust staff in the ticket office seemed rather friendly and approachable. (Little did we know what was in store inside the house!) They accepted our money-off voucher without any fuss and didn't scrutinise our son to make sure he was within the age limit to get free entry. We received a free map of the grounds, which was useful to find our way around the gardens.
The house and the grounds are a bit of a walk away from the car park. You can immediately see the house in the distance at the end of a sloping road, surrounded by the formal gardens. I must say, it does look very impressive, and the fact that it was raining only made it appear more atmospheric and maybe a little bit mysterious too. Apparently, the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers was filmed on these premises!
At the gatehouse we had to show our tickets and were asked whether our son wanted to do a quiz trail. We weren't sure what it was all about but said yes, anyway. Later, it turned out it was a very good idea, as it kept our child occupied while we were in the house. He was given a clipboard and a pencil with the task to spot a number of toy trains hidden around the house. This really got his attention and with a little help from us, he spotted all the trains. We managed to walk through the house in about an hour and a bit without any - "I'm tired" and "I want to go home" and "It's boring". If you visit with children, make sure you take part in this activity, as it really makes the time pass more quickly for them.
When we entered the house, we had to show our tickets yet again. Having read two other reviews, I must agree with the reviewers that the volunteers in the house - a bunch of overzealous old ladies - seemed a bit austere. Not a smiling face in sight! They asked us again how old our son was and when I told them five in September - which is the truth! - they gave me this "I-don't-believe-you-but-there's-nothing-I-ca n-do-about-it" sort of look. They then quite sternly, told me to put my bag in the lockers - a polite request would have been more welcome. Also, they practically shouted at one of the foreign tourists in the entrance hall for taking photos, who didn't even seem to understand what they were talking about. Later, during the tour, yet another foreigner was literally told off for taking photos, as if they were stupid kids doing something very naughty. I must add here, that we were not warned beforehand about this restriction, so if you missed the signs on the wall, how would you know?
The house itself is quite extensive and there are some 50 rooms to explore. According to one of the brochures, you get the whole "upstairs-downstairs" experience of the Victorian era, and that's exactly what this house is all about. You get to explore the humble servants' quarters, the kitchen and the food preparation areas in sharp contrast to the grand dining room, drawing room, library, nursery and numerous bedrooms. All the rooms are fully furnished with objects scattered everywhere to demonstrate the use of each area. There were even real cakes and fruit on the dining room table and in the kitchen - or at least they looked real to me.
The house was a little overcrowded with tourists during our visit, probably because of the rain. The gift shop was particularly bad as you could hardly move. There were lots of books, toys and souvenirs for sale at the usual inflated prices. Outside the house, in a separate building, there is a snack bar, which looked overcrowded as well, so we didn't venture in. We did go into the small play barn, however, which looked like they'd only just recently set it up. There were various Victorian-type toys in the barn for the children to play with.
At the end of our visit we walked around the grounds a little bit, which include a church, the formal gardens, as well as a more extensive woodland walk. Unfortunately, it was still raining, so we couldn't get the maximum out of the outdoor experience, but I can say that the formal gardens were truly amazing. Manicured to absolute perfection and not a gardener in sight, perhaps because of the rain?
On the way back to the car park we wanted to take a look at the adventure playground marked on the map, but we couldn't find it, so we gave up in the end. There's also supposed to be a picnic area right next to it. On a sunny day we would have been more determined to find it, but it was still raining and we were getting tired so we headed back to our holiday accommodation.
Both the house and the gardens are well worth a visit, I would say. There's a lot to see inside and outside the house. If you would like to find out more about Lanhydrock House, here's a link to the information on the National Trust website, including opening times and current admission charges:
There's also an amateur video here (not mine!) on youtube with images of the building and the gardens, which can help you decide whether it's worth visiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oTMcb4Rp60
Summary: Step back in time - definitely worth a visit
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