The Edgcumbe's play-house

Pair of visitors in the Great Hall at Cotehele, Cornwall

The Edgcumbe family preserved Cotehele as a historic talking-point, rather than as a comfortable family home. Built in medieval times, the current house is mostly Tudor. Make your way through four floors of history to view the collection and learn stories about the family who owned it for 600 years.

Sorry, but the house at Cotehele is currently closed

Since 19 March 2020, the house at Cotehele has been closed as we follow goverment guidelines and do our bit to protect everyone during the coronavirus crisis. Work is happening behind the scenes to reopen the house soon. Please visit our homepage for the latest information before visiting.

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This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting

More about Cotehele

This fortified manor house is set on a high bluff on the Cornish bank of the river Tamar, which gave natural protection from skirmishing armies approaching from the east.

Inside the rambling stone walls you'll find a fascinating collection that reflects the antiquarian taste of the Georgian Edgcumbes. The family developed the interiors between about 1750 and 1860 in a deliberate attempt to evoke a sense of nostalgia and recreate the atmosphere of the 'good old days'.

Granite and slatestone

The house is an architectural hotchpotch, mainly re-built in Tudor times. The chapel was first consecrated in 1411, and was re-modelled in the early 1500s. At a similar time the Great Hall was widened, and the south wall was moved forward, ‘squashing’ the chapel into a corner.

A pair of jawbones flank the door in the Great Hall at Cotehele in Cornwall

The whale’s tale: the puzzle of Cotehele's giant jawbones 

For nearly 150 years, a mysterious pair of whale jawbones have flanked the doorway in the Great Hall at Cotehele in Cornwall. Cutting edge DNA analysis and a recent housekeeping discovery have shed new light on the bones and how they came to Cotehele.

Tapestry cut-and-paste job

When you look closely, the house has many quirky furnishings and curious features. It was a play-house for the Edgcumbes, and they made it a masterpiece of improvisation. This photo shows two completely different tapestries that were neatly adjoined to fit the wall space. It is only one of many examples of artistic compromise found in the house.

The Edgcumbes cut and pasted tapestries to suit their needs
Detail of a tapestry cut and paste job at Cotehele, Cornwall
The Edgcumbes cut and pasted tapestries to suit their needs


You are welcome to take photographs inside Cotehele House; the use of a flash or a tripod is not permitted please. Thank you for your cooperation.

View of the north west corner Cotehele House from Hall Court
150922 Cotehele north west corner Cotehele House from Hall Court
View of the north west corner Cotehele House from Hall Court
The Geometry tapestry, on display at Cotehele, Cornwall

Mayflower 400: Tide and time at Cotehele

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, we're exploring the global connections of the Tudor house and collections at Cotehele.