SW 63 SW BREAGE GODOLPHIN
4/48 Godolphin House (previously listed
as Godolphin Hall)
Country house. Circa late C15, probably incorporating earlier work; extended
considerably C16; remodelled and extended mid C17; some C18 alterations; greatly
reduced to south and east circa 1805 followed by modification as a farmhouse. Seat of the Godolphin family for many generations; reduced by the Dukes of Leeds.
Granite, chiefly ashlar, some rubble and some render, all with granite dressings.
Steep scantle slate roofs mostly with parapets and hipped ends except for gable over porch to west and also truncated wing on east flank. Various chimney types including 2 early C17 crenellated and 4 mid C17 corniced. Many C16-C18 crested ridge tiles.
Plan : 2 storeys. Roughly U-shaped round a courtyard on a gentle slope up to the
south, the result of reducing a large and complex house built round 2 or more
courtyards. The hall ran east-west parallel to the north front on the far side of the principal court. A well-defined (north-south) axis runs from the entrance across this court, through the site of the screens passage, across a vanished rear courtyard to the site of the back gate. The antiquity of this axis, running off-centre across the early house, is shown by the application of a symmetrical front by the start of the C16. The early hall and through-passage generated and modified the subsequent development of the plan. The house is approached from the north through a C17 forecourt (qv) which once incorporated 2 earlier towers. The present C17 entrance (north) block is built over earlier end blocks (perhaps towers also) and connecting curtain wall. Central entrance gate but, in order to achieve external symmetry, the range overlaps on the east flank. Principal courtyard has parallel east and west ranges and is closed by a wall to the south. The east block, of about 1500 had parlours on the ground floor with service passage added under catslide roof on its east (rear) in late C18. The whole range extends beyond the north wall in post 1805 form including the kitchen. The parallel west block is an early C17 remodelling of a smaller arrangement of several periods. On the first floor at the far south end the
great chamber (King's Room) runs east-west with a small porch off it to the north-east leading into a walled garden (King's Garden qv). The south block of this
principal courtyard is represented only by the front wall of the hall (right) and
hall porch. Beyond the hall again to the south, lay a large rear domestic court.
Parallel to the hall at the far south limit of the house another range including the back gate and returning on the east a range perhaps containing a long gallery once existed. The main stair was at the north-west corner of the rear court leading directly from the hall to the great chamber. Off the east side of this court, and probably separated from it by a wall, lay a service court of which only part of the supposed Bakehouse (qv) remains. North of the house at a little distance was the deer park and immediately east remains of extensive C17 gardens. The site of the (probably free-standing) chapel is not known. (dedicated to Our Lady and reputedly licenced 1300).
Overall 11 window entrance front of remarkable design. Wider bay spacing defines end blocks under hipped roofs which once had finials (remains in west roofspace). Plinth and battlemented parapet continuous. The 7 bays between are supported on a colonnade (still called the 'piazza' by some locally) of 6 stout tapering monolithic approximately Tuscan columns between 2 half-columns and standing on a stylobate of 2 steps. Flat keystoned lintels between with surprisingly advanced fascia detail. Between the colonnade and end blocks 2 C17 lead rainwater pipes, the pipeheads with double-headed eagle and dolphin (arms and crest of the family). The roof over the centre section is C19 and supercedes a large lead flat (structure survives mostly) punctuated by 2 tall thin chimney shafts with cornice caps of which only the tops now show. The east flank of this block was re-fenestrated circa 1805; tripartite hornless sash window with square granite mullions to the ground floor and similar Venetian window above, both with much crown glass; 1805 demolition left the facing toothed to the south. The west flank of the north block faces the stable yard (qv); ground floor 2-light mullioned window restored and above perhaps similar, but blocked
early. The return and back walls within the colonnade are probably a C16 refacing of earlier semi-defensive work. The returns each have a pistol loop enfilading the gate. Before the C17 alterations the wall at the back was a curtain and there are remains of stairs to the wall-walk at either end on the south face. The central gate was clearly built as a frontispiece and based on a hazy recollection of that at Collacombe, Lamerton, Devon (qv) giving it a date of circa 1580. A 4 centred moulded arch of conventional pattern is flanked by 2 cylindrical attached columns with multiple-moulded capitals and bases standing on pedestals. Above, the capitals become bases for short upper column lengths also terminating in capitals of which another floats over the crown of the arch. On either side of this, outsized guttae prove that more existed above, including a Doric frieze (see the proper one at Collacombe). Contemporary oak gates ornamented with pilasters and cornices, their tops forming a big scallop shell; wicket in right leaf. Through this gate another colonnade is found mirroring the first. The C17 rooms above are thus supported on a spine wall and 2 colonnades - a design both daring and probably unique. The pre-existing east block of the courtyard laps this north block covering 1½ columns and a window above, showing that a plan to make the courtyard larger and symmetrical was abandoned (perhaps at the Civil War).
The courtyard face of the east block has 3 bays irregularly spaced with circa 1500 4 light mullioned windows on the ground floor and C17 3-light mullioned windows above. All have hoods, those to the ground floor have 4-centred heads. The right hand ground floor windows light the Dining Room, which has one regular sized and one very tall window (north) with a king mullion. C18 timber modillion eaves cornice (at which time the face seems to have been rendered and blocked out). Some 1985 repair and reconstruction on first floor. This block continues as a circa 1805 single bay remodelling south of the courtyard with modillion cornice made to match and ashlar front of two 3 light re-used mullioned windows and a re-used 4 centred doorway. The south wall of the courtyard is the face of the hall range with the first floor removed and parapet lowered in 1805. Left hand end is blind and largely rebuilt.
The hall porch pre-dates the remainder and is probably C15 work. It now projects
very little, but the plinth of the right hand return runs back a further 2 metres
(now below ground). The doorway was replaced with a late C15 arch with blind-
panelled jambs similar to those in the south porches of Breage and many local
churches (- so perhaps from the chapel?). To the right of this the C16 symmetrical 3 window front of the hall (almost absorbing the porch) : a 2-light mullioned window on either side of a similar 4-light window with king mullion (there were identical but half-height windows above). The early C17 courtyard 2:1:1 bay face of the west block has a rubble plinth with remains of early pebble-dashed render, labelled string courses and C20 plain parapet (originally battlemented). The third bay from the left projects slightly. Windows to ground floor service rooms are small with 2 lights. The sills of the 2 to the right are lowered (that in the projecting bay was converted to a door in C19). The far left hand window was replaced (?1805) by a re-used and modified 4 centred doorway. C20 leaded lights except early C19 timber lights with glazing bars to first floor right window. The rainwater pipe and pipehead are C20 copies.
The rear (west) face of the west block is irregular and the stable range abuts to the left (north) forming one side of a private garden (King's Garden qv). Adjoining this is the small slightly projecting 3 storey porch of the King's Room; early C17 with chamfered flat-headed door up steps, 2-light mullioned window (less the mullion) above and small single-light attic window; right again 2 large 3-light mullioned windows mirror those at the east (courtyard) end of the room; below them, 2 C17 cellar ventilators with relieving arches; the roof is hipped with plain parapet (C20), once crenellated the right return has a re-used single light window to the cellar and a copied rainwater pipe with pipehead. Right again and thus set back is a 2-storey roofed wall and return; to the west a central wide segmental-headed mid C18 staircase window and on the (south) return a ground floor window.
The rear (south) elevation is entirely the result of C19 demolitions; left is the
King's Room with hipped and sprocketted roof, rebuilt south wall with first floor
door up stone steps with C20 porch and ground floor right a re-used C17 chamfered
doorway with panelled door; copied pipehead. To the right the rear of the hall
front, and porch with C19 buttresses (except that to left of porch, which is its
earlier return wall) and wall close the courtyard. Far east is the hipped end of the east block, blind and with rebuilt C17 kitchen chimney.
Rear of the east block is an outshut in 2 phases: the left part is C19, the result of demolition and rebuilding; the rubble walling is broken only by C19 scullery window at the south end with a C20 window above both casements. Right of this is a section of ashlar facing and between the two a double straight joint perpetuates a vanished wall projecting east (site of stair off Dining Room?). Right of this late C18 2 window ashlar front; strange 2-light windows with voussoirs and re-used mullions fitting under keystones; original leaded lights and casements. Under the right hand window a doorway with overlight and probably original door, then right again a small C19 introduced ground floor window. Here, in the angle where the north block overlaps to the east is a C19 block with re-used 2-light mullioned window built after 1805 demolitions. Raised up mid C20 with hipped slate roof with two re-used 2-light oak: mullioned windows from demolished Red Lion Hotel, Truro.
Interior : Work of circa 1500 survives noteably in the principal ground floor parlour (now, Dining Room) in the east block. The ceiling of framed intersecting beams, richly moulded with vine trails, bosses and leaves at the intersections and moulded joists is possibly the best of its date in the county. The north wall has a C19 fireplace with 3-centred arch surrounded by linenfold panelling probably contemporary with the room. Between the windows a cast iron plaque of royal arms of Henry VIII, intended as a fireback but with C19 colours. The chamber above has remains of original roof of 4 bays with 4 surviving carved arch-braced trusses, carved wallplate and pockets for 3 threaded purlins (a waggon vault-like hybrid), revealed and repaired 1985. C17 fireplace the chamber north has slight remains of contemporary roof. Of the C16 no roofs or floors survive, and few other elements. There are considerable C17 remains however, including the large 3-centred kitchen fireplace, once double but adapted C19. The west block contains the great chamber, of considerable size (traditionally called the King's Room). The ceiling is canopied all round with two C17 pendants of ornamental plasterwork. It is a very plain C18 re-working including a modillion cornice, C17 pattern not known. There are 2 alcoves or bays symmetrically off the main room to north-east and north-west, the former with
early C17 cornice, frieze and pattae. On the south wall a large and fine early C17 oak overmantle re-used over a door. The superstructure is supported on paired approximately Ionic columns with amulets and pineappling standing on patterned pedestals. They support a deep pulvinated and scaled frieze with matching smaller columns and round arches set back above forming 3 large niches separated by rusticated splats. Within were 3 marquetry shields, that to the left charged with the arms of Godolphin, to the right Sidney and centre Godolphin impaling Sidney - for the marriage of Sir William Godolphin and Thomasina Sidney in 1604. The inlay is missing from all but the left hand shield. A deep gadrooned frieze with a wide cornice-board on hart's-tongue brackets complete it. This overmantle was restored to the house in the mid C20. The fireplace in the King's Room is large with roll and cavetto mouldings and diabolo stops. A similar one exists in the next room north, which also has a C17 frieze of ornamental plasterwork frieze of big flowers with tapestry rail below. The roof over this block is also C17, part with cambered collars and notched-lap joints. The north (front) block preserves much of its mid C17 roof; over the west end block trenched purlins and at the apex the principals and hip rafters are morticed into the stub of a vanished finial. The east end block roof seems to be a C18 replacement. Between the 2 a long mid C19 pine roof of low pitch built over the cross-beams and joists (some circa 1500 re-used) of the original flat
lead roof. The north block also preserves parts of its mid C17 floor structures.
The library (traditionally called the Godolphin Room) has another frieze of
ornamental plasterwork and a mid C17 chamfered granite fireplace lies hidden behind early C18 Delft tiles of sea creatures surrounded by a pine overmantle with pilasters flanking a bolection-moulded panel with articulated cornice. Another chamfered fireplace over the colonnade, Of the C18 is the Adam-style mantlepiece in the Sitting Room (first floor east end block) with dado and 1 of a pair of 6 panel doors surviving from circa 1805 (the other replaced C20 by a mahogany door from Pendarves).
On the ground floor in the east block, the Breakfast Room has part late C18 and part early C19 pine panelling with box-cornice; the back stairs (north-east corner of east block) was built in the C19 re-using 3 earlier balustrades : C18 Chinese Chippendale, late C17 bobbin-turned and circa 1604 splat balusters (see King's Room overmantle). The overmantle in the entrance hall is from St Ives and the fireplace reconstructed, Few of Cornwall's great houses survive to this extent. Godolphin shows consistently fine quality work from 1500, 1600 and 1650. One of the unanswered puzzles is the similarity of the Dining Room in its disposition to a hall - perhaps explained by use as both parlour and private dining room from the start. The front of the house is an ingenious and original design and a surprising compliment to the earlier work which it retains. Far though the house is from the capital, the Godolphins were courtiers from the time of Sir William (1510-75) to the Second Earl (mid C18) and this may explain the ambitious attempts. By tradition Charles II, when Prince of Wales, stayed here. Sydney, First Earl of Godolphin (who was born here) reached highest as Queen Anne's Lord Treasurer. This is one of Cornwall's most important houses both
historically and architecturally, a house developed through many periods and styles combined harmoniously and little altered since the early C19.
Sources : William Borlase drawing and engraving for Antiquities and Natural History of Cornwall 1754 CRO; W Borlase drawing of Godolphin from painted panelling at Pengersick Castle, (qv) CRO; Estate map 1786 CRO; letter Francis Godolphin to John Evelyn, Bodleian Library, Oxford; verbal information S E Schofield via/and John Schofield; Guide to house.
Listing NGR: SW6012931840