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Port Eliot

OS grid reference- SX 359 577

The seat of the Eliot family, Port Eliot is situated in St Germans. The house stands on the banks of the Tamar estuary system, the Port Eliot estate lies 10 miles to the west of Plymouth. The Grade I listed house has its own church – which is the parish church of St Germans, which originally acted as cathedral to the whole of Cornwall.

The house has roots as ancient as the fifth century , making it one of the oldest buildings in continuous habitation in Britain. It had once been an Augustinian Priory, consecrated in 937 and dedicated to St Germanus (the tutor of Ireland's St Patrick).

It was acquired by the Eliot family at the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 1540s and parts of the monastic buildings were incorporated into the dwelling house that was built on the site.The earliest parts of the building date from between the third and fifth centuries. Among the surviving medieval features are the undercroft and abbot's lodgings.

The vast rambling house has 13 staircases, 82 chimneys and the roof covers half an acre. It was substantially altered and remodelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by noted architects including Sir John Soane. The house contains masterpieces by Reynolds, Van Dyck and and some fine furnishings.

The house sits on the banks of the Lynher estuary, surrounded by a dense crescent of ancient trees looking across a beautiful landscaped park which was laid out by the landscapist Humphry Repton in the 1790s.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Eliot family invested heavily in the estate, building numerous farmhouses, fisherman's cottages and other dwellings. Many of these remain part of the estate to this day and are rented out to local residents and friends of the family. The gardens feature camelias, rhodedendrons, and azaleas, and are particularly lovely in Springtime, when the early bulbs are in bloom.

Port Eliot has been home to the Eliot family for the past 500 years, the current head of the family is Peregrine Eliot, 10th Earl of St Germans.

Historic Buildings in Cornwall