- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- COTEHELE HOUSE
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- Statutory Address:
- COTEHELE HOUSE
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Country house. Probably originating circa 1300, with alterations of early C15. The
main phases of building appear to have been by Sir Richard Edgcumbe from 1485 -89
and his son, Sir Piers Edgcumbe, from 1489 - 1520. Some intermediate alterations and
the addition of the north west tower in 1627. Internal alterations of early and late
C18. The east range was remodelled in 1862 as accommodation for a widowed Countess
of Mount Edgcumbe. Few later alterations. Slatestone rubble ; granite ashlar ;
granite dressings. Slate roofs with ridge tiles and gable ends. Most stacks have
ashlar shafts, with cornice and shaped top, located under plan description.
Plan: The original plan of the building is uncertain. It has been suggested that the
west range of the hall courtyard is on the lines of the original building, with the
west passage entrance the original front. It seems more likely that the main hall is
the core of the original building. This was an open hall, heated from an open
hearth, with a passage at the lower right end and an inner room at the upper left
end. At the south front of the hall, the masonry is continuous at ground floor level
from the hall to the Old Dining Room to left (the site of an inner room). There are
2 doorways at the right end of the hall, which may have led to the passage, now a
lobby; this was formerly an open doorway at the east end, possibly originally a
doorway to a lower end room. A license was issued for a chapel at Cotehele in 1411 ;
this may have been on the site of the present chapel, attached at the higher end of
the inner room and aligned east/west. The major alterations begin circa 1485. The
hall was raised in height, in courses of granite ashlar, with 3 upper windows and a
large doorway set off-centre to right ; a rear lateral stack was inserted. Probably
at the same time, the east range and the south range of the hall courtyard were
built, with a gateway in the south range directly facing the new entrance to the
hall. The east range of the courtyard would block the entrance ot the passage, and a
rear kitchen range was built to right. The kitchen range has a main fireplace in the
inner side (west), with a stack similar to the hall's rear lateral stack, in granite
ashlar. Possibly later in the C16, a second stack was added at the north end of the
kitchen, for fireplace and ovens. If there were a lower end room, it would probably
have been demolished by circa 1550, by which time the courtyard would have been
The second major phase of rebuilding was probably under Sir Piers Edgcumbe, who held
Cotehele form 1489-1520. The inner room was rebuilt as a rear wing, extending to
north ; this has a continuous roof with arched-braces and and wind braces, as in the
hall, but the upper chamber, probably built as one room, was heated from a stack at
the inner side. The 2 rooms at ground floor, known as the Punch Room to north and
the Old Dining Room to south, each have a fireplace on the east side. The front
gable end of this wing was given a large window at ground and first floor, and a
window of the same design was inserted at the dais end of the main hall. Internally,
the jambs of this window do not fit the opening ; the earlier window was probably
At the same time, the chapel was probably remodelled, with a Perpendicular window at
the east end and bellcote added to west ; the west range of the courtyard was also
probably rebuilt. This appears to be a building which is self-contained, possibly
for a priest's accommodation. At ground floor there are 2 rooms, each heated from a
gable end stack, with an open through passage between them with an archway which
retains the earlier form of imposts. At first floor, there are 3 rooms, the outer
rooms headed from the gable end stacks and the central room from a lateral stack
rising above the passage doorway on the courtyard side. At the south end of this
range there is a small linking block which joins to the south range of the courtyard.
This is of one-room plan, heated from a stack on the outer (west) side; it may
represent the remains of an early courtyard building, or have been constructed to
close the courtyard in the late C15 - early C16. Probably at the same time, the
gatehouse was remodelled. This appears to have been built in 3 phases. At first,
the gateway would have been within the south courtyard range, the slatestone rubble
masonry being continuous on both the inner and the outer sides. The second phase
involved the rebuilding of the gatehouse for its first stage in granite ashlar, up to
the height of the 2-storey range to each side. Later, it was raised in height, to
its present 2 stages, with embattled parapet. At each stage, there is a string
course, but the mouldings are different at each stage.
Probably later in the C16, a further range of preparation rooms was added to the
north of the kitchen wing ; this encloses the kitchen courtyard. This stage appears
to be in 2 phases, with one range of 2-room plan to west, heated from an axial stack
and a gable end stack to west, both with cornices and shaped tops. There is a lower
range to east with a rear lateral stack.
In 1627, the north west tower was constructed. This incorporates part of the rear of
the rear wing; the masonry of the rear wing is continuous through to the base of the
tower, and the quoins remain, marking the original rear wall of the wing; the plinth
of the tower is built up to the quoins. This tower was built as a status building,
not defensible. There was originally one room on each floor, ground, first and
second, all heated from the stack at the east side of the tower, concealed within the
embattled parapet. The ground floor room of the tower is known as the White Room.
The first floor room is known as the Old Drawing Room. At second floor, the room has
been partitioned, probably an original division ; this has Queen Anne's Room, a small
unheated room, and King Charles' Room, a larger heated room with a fireplace to east.
The fireplaces in the tower have basket arches and roll-mouldings.
The house was partially remodelled circa late C17 - early C18, with moulded plaster
cornices in the Punch Room and Old Dining Room (ground floor of the rear wing) and
above, where the rooms are known as the Red Room and the South Room. The wing may
originally have had a garderobe, at the north west corner ; this has been altered as
a cellar in the Punch Room.
In 1862, the east range of the hall courtyard was remodelled as accommodation for the
widowed Countess of Mount Edgcumbe, with service accommodation to north east, dated
1862 on the porch. The east front was given a 2-storey porch, and there is a
projection to right of the porch which may originally have been a lateral stack
heating the courtyard room, or a garderobe. The east end of the hall range was also
rebuilt, with the service accommodation to north east, on the outer side of the
kitchen wing. The courtyard ranges to east, south and west are now in separate
accommodation, as is the C19 service block to north east. Retainers' Court, to south
west of Cotehele House, is listed as a separate item.
Exterior: The hall range is in slatestone rubble, with courses of granite ashlar
below the eaves. Off-centre to right a doorway with 4-centred arch and shield in
tympanum, with roll-mouldings, segmental arch and hood mould ; three 2-light windows
above with ogee lights and roll-mouldings. Large mullion and transom window at the
dais end to left in same style as the windows to the upper end wing to left. The
east gable end of the hall range was remodelled in 1862; 2 windows at each floor, all
with rounded arched lights. The window at ground floor to right was formerly a
doorway, perhaps the doorway from the passage to the former lower end. The rear of
the hall has 2 upper 2-light windows with ogee heads ; rear lateral stack in granite
The east range of the courtyard 2 storeys, with two 4-centred arched doorways, on the
inner side both with 4-centred arched heads and hood moulds ; all windows have 4-
centred arched lights. The range is heated from an axial stack to north and gable
end stack to south, both with cornices and shaped tops ; the outer side has a lateral
stack to left of C19, and a projection to right which may be the remains of a lateral
stack, or garderobe. C19 2-storey porch tower, gabled with gable end stacks ; 2
dormers to right.
The south range of the courtyard and gate tower On the outer side, the gate tower is
in 2 stages, with slatestone rubble at the base, upper level and second stage in
granite ashlar ; string courses with different mouldings at each stage and embattled
parapet. Ground floor has 4-centred arched doorway with studded door, shield in
tympanum and hood mould; lancets at each stage. To right of the tower, there are 2
stepped lancets, at the site of the stair. To the left, a 2-storey 2-room plan range
with similar lancets, each room heated from a lateral stack with rubble shaft, shaped
top and cornice. The inner side of the tower has 3-light window with 4-centred
arched lights at each stage ; tall 4-centred arched gateway with imposts ; 4 bays of
granite vault inside.
The west range of the courtyard This is in 2 builds; to the south is a small one-
room plan infill, heated from an external lateral stack, with gable end to south.
The main range appears to be self-contained accommodation ; of 2-room plan at ground
floor, each room heated from a gable end stack and with an open through passage.
Central room of first floor heated from a lateral stack above the passage on the
inner side. Doorway on the inner side with 4-centred arch and impost mouldings, on
the outer side a different 4-centred arched doorway with recessed spandrels and hood
mould. On the inner side the first floor has two 3-light windows with ogee heads,
ground floor has doorway to right and left and 3-light window to left with 4-centred
arched lights ; stepped lancets to right. The outer side has single lights.
The chapel The east gable end faces into the courtyard. This has raised coped verges
and finial; 3-light Perpendicular window with cusped lights, 4-centred arch and hood
mould. Straight joint to the courtyard range. The west gable end has single light
at ground floor ; raised coped verges and a bellcote in granite with pinnacles. The
south side of the chapel has 4-centred arched doorway with roll-mouldings and upper
2-light window with 4-centred arched lights and roll-mouldings and hood moulds.
north side has no windows, buttress to right.
The upper end wing This has a gable end with raised coped verges facing south into
the courtyard. 2 storeys, with slatestone rubble at groud floor and the upper storey
in granite ashlar. Two 3-light windows at ground and first floor with ogee lights,
king mullion and hood moulds. At the west side there are 2 buttresses and a stair
tower adjoining the chapel. Varied windows at ground and first floor. Bay to left
incorporated in the north west tower, with the quoins remaining.
The north west tower 3-stage tower in slatestone rubble with granite dressings and
quoins; embattled parapet in ashlar with cable-moulded string course; string courses
and plinth. All windows have segmental-head lights. Main window at each floor to
west and north, with mullion and transom. Heated from external stack to east.
The north ranges These are service rooms enclosing the kitchen courtyard; much
remodelled in C19. There is one range adjoining the tower and a lower 2-storey range
to east. Varied windows and C19 gabled dormers.
Interior: The main hall has roof with 4 tiers of wind braces, with arched-braces and
collars; the roof over the upper end wing is continuous, of the same construction as
the main hall, and not smoke-blackened. The wing would have been floored originally
and probably open to roof at first floor; this range was remodelled and ceiled
probably in the late C17, with moulded plaster cornices, the granite fireplace
remaining from the first build. The chapel has a wagon roof with moulded ribs,
carved wall-plate and bosses. For further details see sources. The tower rooms
retain original internal features, such as the ceiling in the White Room, the lowest
room in the tower, with thin wooden ribs dividing the ceiling into polygonal panels.
In the Old Drawing Room is an internal porch with linenfold panels, and fine door
with carved rosettes on the panels. The fireplaces in the tower are all granite,
with roll-mouldings and basket arches ; the two rooms on the top floor both have
studded doors in moulded frames also with a basket arch.
For futher details of internal features and glass, see sources.
Sources: Trinick, M.: Cotehele House 1984. Hussey, C.: Country Life, June 10th 1905;
August 30th 1924 and September 6th, 1924.
Listing NGR: SX4223868618
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Trinick, M, Cotehele House, (1984)
'Country Life' in 30 August, (1924)
'Country Life' in 6 September, (1924)
'Country Life' in 10 June, (1905)
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 8 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly,
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing
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Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.