National Trust Properties Cornwall: History & Nature

St Micheal's Mount Castle

If you’re looking for the best National Trust properties in Cornwall, this post is here to help!

Featuring the most elegant stately homes, impressive historical attractions and epic areas of nature, this article will show you exactly where to use your National Trust membership in Cornwall.

Do I need to be a member to visit these National Trust Properties?

Brown stone buildings of Cotehele, a National Trust place in Cornwall near Calstock

You certainly don’t need to be a member to visit National Trust properties in Cornwall, but I’d strongly recommend that you become one.

You can save an immense amount of money by being a National Trust member. You just pay one annual fee, and then you can visit as many properties as you like over the course of the year.

This includes all of the National Trust houses in Cornwall, but also properties all over England, and in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Plus, there are even some reciprocal agreements that mean you can visit properties in other countries for free or at a discounted rate. You can also enjoy exclusive offers like money off at Go Outdoors and Cotswolds. 

You can purchase family, joint or individual memberships. It’s great for solo adventures, family days out or a romantic break with your other half. 

If you visited all of these Cornish National Trust places and paid for regular entry, you would spend at least £105.

Membership for the National Trust is only £60 per year, so you’re already saving a significant amount of money.

You can read more about the National Trust in my National Trust Membership Review, or click here to go through to their website and read more about membership.

Or, read my English Heritage vs National Trust blog post. It’ll help you decide which trust to join!

Best National Trust Properties in Cornwall

Lanhydrock House 

A shot of the late 19th century Lanhydrock House, which is a collection of grey brick historic buildings, with a slightly cloudy sky in the background.

Lanhydrock is one of my favourite National Trust properties.

Sitting close to the Cornish town of Bodmin, it’s a vast stately home with impressive gardens.

The house was originally Jacobean, but it was a victim of a fire in the late 1800s, so most of the features that you see now date back to this late Victorian era.

Victorian-style bedroom with a four poster bed with white sheets and a green chair in Lanhydrock, one of the best National Trust properties in Cornwall

The National Trust has preserved Lanhydrock so it resembles this late Victorian period, with sumptuous décor from the upper class in the upper rooms and traditional kitchens which have been preserved to mimic servant’s quarters.

Victorian-era copper pots and pans on a stove

It’s like a look into the Downton Abbey set!

There are also impressive and colourful gardens which are perfect for a gentle stroll.

If you want something a bit more adventurous, hike around the 890-acre estate.

There’s a picturesque riverside walk that you can enjoy with epic ancient woodland.

If you’re an avid cyclist, enjoy the many cycle paths around the Victorian country estate. 

It costs £17.00 for adult entry and £9.35 for child entry.

Parking charges also apply, but as always National Trust members can enjoy free parking.

St Michael’s Mount

St Michael's Mount island in Cornwall

Picture a looming medieval castle sitting on top of a rocky island a few hundred metres from the shore, and you’ve got St Michael’s Mount.

It pierces the coastline of Mount’s Bay and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cornwall.

The island has always been a place of enigma and intrigue, with fishermen believing that the Archangel Michael appeared there when they were in danger.

This resulted in it becoming a place of religious interest and it eventually became the end of a pilgrim’s route.

The castle was built in the 12th century, reflecting its sister castle, Mont St Michel in Normandy in France.

Nowadays, it’s owned by both the National Trust and the St Aubyn family – some of whom still live there today!

Church at St Michael's Mount

Depending on the tide, you can visit the island either by boat or by walking along the tidal causeway.

Once there, you can see the interior of the castle, explore the picturesque gardens, or simply enjoy the island.

It has lovely views out to sea and to Marazion, Penzance and Mousehole. There’s a café, restaurant and gift shop on the island itself.

St Michael’s Mount is one of the most expensive National Trust properties in the whole of the UK.

It costs £24 for an adult ticket to visit the castle and the terraced garden, or £14 to visit the castle only and £10 to visit the gardens only.

For children, it’s £7 for the castle only, £6 for the gardens only and £13 for a ticket for both.

But as always, members get free entry.

Cotehele House and Estate

Historic Cotehele house which is near the Tamar Valley in Cornwall

Owned by the Edgcumbe family, a wealthy lineage who are the namesake of the Edgcumbe Estate near Plymouth, Cotehele is a Tudor house with a past spanning back to Medieval times.

It sits in East Cornwall, looking out over the River Tamar which separates the Duchy from Devon.

In the house, you’ll find relics from all parts of its past, including Tudor tapestries, Medieval armour and a peaceful chapel.

You can also explore the traditional gardens and the planted terraces. Plus there’s a second-hand book shop by the house.

Or walk down to Cotehele Quay and learn a little more about the industry in the area by seeing the historic mill and Shamrock, which is a restored sailing barge and now a tearoom.

Remember, if you buy a traditional Cornish cream tea here, it’s jam first – but over the water in Devon, it’s cream!

It costs £9.00 for adult entry and £4.50 for child entry to Cotehele.

Trerice

A view of the outside of Trerice, an Elizabethan manor house and one of the best National Trust places in Cornwall

Trerice is a small National Trust property, just down the road from bustling Newquay but worlds away in atmosphere.

It’s an Elizabethan manor house that was built by the Arundell family. They were one of the most prestigious families in Cornwall in the 16th century and inherited the land through marriage. The house began to be built in 1572.

After the house was built, the prestige of the Arundells only increased. Sir John Arundell VI was congratulated for defending Pendennis Castle in the Civil War and his son, Richard Arundell became Baron Arundell.

This family line died out in 1768, and then the house passed to the Aclands.

They didn’t use the house much, often residing instead at their house in Killerton near Exeter.

Inside of Trerice house, with historic decor over the walls

Eventually, the house was passed to the Eltons, who lived there as tenants at first and used it as a family home. But then it was passed to the National Trust.

Nowadays, you can enjoy the grand features of the hall and bedrooms and explore the historic gardens. There’s a traditional Tudor knot garden and tended flowerbeds.

Entry to Trerice costs £11 for adults and £5.50 for children. As always, it’s free for National Trust members.

Tintagel Old Post Office

Medieval post office in Tintagel

The Tintagel Old Post Office was built more than 600 years ago, in the late 14th century, as a Middle Ages farmhouse.

It is an example of a Cornish medieval hall-house, of which only a few survive.

Over the years, Tintagel Post Office acted as a residential property with livestock in the courtyard and was finally the post office for the village in the latter 19th century.

Nowadays, it’s a fascinating place to learn about Tintagel’s rich history. Combine it with a trip to the castle for an unforgettable day out.

The booking procedure of the Tintagel Old Post office is slightly different to the rest of these Cornwall National Trust properties.

You need to book onto a timed slot, which is an hour in length and includes an introductory talk.

These slots often sell out, as they are limited and the property is small. So be sure to book in advance if you would like to visit.

Godolphin House and Estate

Photo by Ian Swithinbank via Flickr

Sitting on the edge of Helston, just north of the Lizard Peninsula, Godolphin is one of the grandest estates in Cornwall.

Archaeological remains have been found scattered over the Godolphin estate from the Bronze Age, but the estate itself didn’t form until around the 12th century.

At this time, the powerful Godolgun family acquired the land around the estate. They built a house in the 13th and 14th centuries.

In the 15th century, the family name changed to Godolphin, which bore more similarity to other elite names. The mining industry in the area increased, which in turn boosted the family’s wealth.  

After the Godolphins ceased to own the estate, it was owned by the Dukes of Leeds for 134 years, from 1785 to 1920.

However, they only managed to visit twice in all of these years! Instead, the house was lived in by tenant farmers.

You can visit the house and marvel at its historic décor listening to tales of the grandeur of the past to how it became a farm, lived in by the working class.

Then, explore the farm buildings and stroll around the beautiful gardens. There’s also a tea room on site.

If you want a slightly longer walk, there are plenty of meandering paths within the wider estate too.

Adult tickets are £10 and child tickets at £5.

Antony House and Gardens

A large house with lots of windows, one of the best National Trust houses in Cornwall.
Photo by Mark AC Photos via Flickr

The Rame Peninsula is one of the most forgotten corners of Cornwall, but it’s well worth a visit. One of the main things to do there is Antony House and Garden, which is a grand 18th century property.

One of the most interesting things about this National Trust site is that the Pen Carew family still live there today.

The house tells the stories of both families, including their involvement in the Civil War.

You’ll learn about the West Country through the ages as you explore.

Then, take a stroll in the well-manicured garden, which is beautiful across seasons.

It costs £11 for adult entrance and £5.50 for child entrance.

Trelissick House and Garden

Photo by Tim Green via Flickr

Trelissick House and Garden is located near Truro, Cornwall’s capital, in South Cornwall. 

With exotic gardens with sub-tropical plants overlooking the River Fal, it’s a popular spot to visit for walks in any season.

It has its own peninsula, which affords incredible maritime views from every angle!

While this is a quiet area nowadays, it was once one of the busiest waterways in the world, as Falmouth used to be a thriving port.

View over Fal River from Trelissick which is near Truro
Photo by Andy Roberts via Flickr

The estate accommodates an art gallery and the Crofters café, which serves delicious cream teas and other Cornish staples.

There is also a historic house, but it is currently closed. 

It costs £13 for adults and £6.50 for children to visit Trelissick.

Lawrence House Museum

Lawrence House Museum is a slightly different National Trust property. Instead of being on its own grand estate, it sits in the centre of the town of Launceston.

It dates back to 1753 and acts as a local museum, detailing the town’s history.

Visit and you’ll learn about Launceston’s association with Australia, see a Victorian tea room, explore historic costumes and any kids in tow can enjoy the playroom.

Levant Mine

Something that a lot of tourists forget about when they come to Cornwall is its mining heritage. 

I come from a long line of Cornish miners, so it’s fascinating to me, but it’s interesting to other tourists too! 

The Levant Mine is a National Trust owned engine house and mine.

Sitting in Pendeen in far western Cornwall on the ‘Tin Coast’, it’s set in a beautiful location but has a tragic history, most notably the 1919 Levant Mine Disaster when 31 miners lost their lives. 

You can take in the beautiful landscape and pre-book a guided tour to learn about this mine’s tragic story. 

It costs £10 for adults to visit the mine and £5 for children. You can usually enter for free if you have a ticket to the Geevor Tin Mine. 

You can also enjoy far-reaching views from the coast path, which winds around the Levant Mine. 

National Trust Coastline

View of Kynance Cove

The National Trust owns miles of coastline and beauty spots in Cornwall that are ready for you to explore.

You don’t need to pay to see the coastline or be a member – although members get free parking at the National Trust car parks, which are usually near to the properties.

Some of the most popular stretches of National Trust-owned Cornish coastline include:

  • Kynance Cove: This is a popular beach on the Lizard Peninsula, with beautiful sea and dramatic rocks. Despite its relatively isolated location, it can be packed out here (it’s not very big!), so I recommend visiting either in off-peak season or at the very start of the day. You can read more about Kynance Cove here.
  • Holywell Bay: This is one of my favourite beaches in Cornwall, and it’s just a stone’s throw from Newquay. The coastline around here is absolutely stunning, so if you are able to, make sure that you hike a little way on the coast path in either direction and take in the views. This beach has been the filming location of Poldark and numerous other TV shows and movies.
  • Sandymouth: Sitting on the north coast, not far from the Devon/ Cornwall border and close to the surf town of Bude, this is a beautiful beach area with charming coastal views.
  • Lansallos: This is a dramatic stretch of coastline with a vast amount of natural beauty by Fowey in southern Cornwall. There are also woodland walks in the area.
  • Cape Cornwall: Before Land’s End became popular, everyone flocked to Cape Cornwall! Now it’s much quieter, but is a less-touristy alternative to Land’s End. 
Coastline of Sandymouth, National Trust owned coast in North Cornwall. It's a birds eye view with a long beach and craashing whitewater waves.

Is Pencarrow House National Trust?

Pencarrow House, located on the edge of Bodmin Moor, is privately owned. This means that you cannot visit for free with your National Trust membership. 

Is the Lost Gardens of Heligan National Trust?

Lost Gardens of Heligan

No, the Lost Gardens of Heligan are not National Trust and you can’t get in with your membership.

The gardens are privately owned by the Tremayne family and cost around £17 for entrance.

Is Land’s End National Trust?

View of Lands End

The coastline around Land’s End is owned by the National Trust.

However, the Land’s End Landmark Attraction is owned by Heritage Attractions Ltd.

It’s free to visit Land’s End, although you do need to pay for many of the attractions and amusements.

You can see all of the best things to do in Land’s End here!

What are some other nearby National Trust properties?

If you’re staying in east Cornwall, you might also be interested in visiting National Trust properties in Devon. Remember, if you buy a membership, you’ll be able to visit all of these properties too!

These include:

  • Buckland Abbey: A majestic house, previously an abbey before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which Sir Frances Drake previously lived in.
  • Castle Drogo: This is “England’s youngest castle” and was built between 1911 – 1930 as a family home.
  • Killerton House: This 18th century house sits just outside of Exeter and was owned by the Aclands (the same family who owned Trerice!).
  • A La Ronde: This is a quirky National Trust property with a difference. It’s a 16 sided house and is stuffed with memorabilia from all over the world.

Best Cornish National Trust properties

These National Trust places in Cornwall are all fantastic sites to enjoy history, nature and culture! It’s definitely worth adding a few to your Cornwall itinerary.

If you are going to visit six or more National Trust properties in a year, then I’d really recommend a membership.

You’ll easily make your money back, and it should help you to get outdoors and see our beautiful country more.

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