Boconnoc House is near Lostwithiel, Cornwall.The house and its surrounding estate is one of the most beautiful locations hidden in Cornwall. Its a gem and the home of Anthony and Elizabeth Fortescue.
The parish is named after the Old Cornish for ‘Dwelling place of Conoc’. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Bochenod. At that time, it is recorded as having land for 8 ploughs but only one plough there with one slave. There were 2 villagers and 6 smallholders. The parish then consisted of 100 acres of woodland and 40 acres of pasture. The parsonage and glebe of Boconnoc were annexed to the park and grounds of Boconnoc House, by Act of Parliament, in 1806 when a new rectory house was built at Broadoak (Bradock) to serve both parishes. The old parsonage became the home of the Steward of the Boconnoc Estate, and is located behind Boconnoc House in a secluded valley, among majestic trees.
Three miles east of Lostwithiel, Boconnoc can trace its history back to the Normans. The estate and house were taxed in the Domesday Roll A.D.1087. The first recorded owners were the De Cant family (1268) and in 1320 – 1386, the Manor was owned by the Carminows. Latterly by Sir Oliver Carminow who married a daughter of Joan Holland (The Fair Maid of Kent), a grand-daughter of Edward I who married the Black Prince as her second husband, for whom the Duchy of Cornwall was created. Through the centuries, Boconnoc has been associated with many of this country’s famous names and history-makers including Lord Russell, Earl of Bedford who sold Boconnoc in 1579 to Sir William Mohun who rebuilt it. Later, Thomas Pitt purchased the estate with the proceeds of the famous Pitt Diamond which he sold to the Regent of France where it ended up in the hilt of Napoleon’s sword. Pitt’s grandson, William, became Prime Minister. Eventually, the estate was bequeathed to the Fortescue family who still own it although, since 1969, the house has not been lived in due to deterioration and subsidence. but is now been restored.
During the Second World War, Boconnoc House and the surrounding buildings were occupied by American troops and the grounds used as an ammunition dump in preparation for the invasion of Europe in 1944. In the grounds (actually the largest park in Cornwall) can be seen the church, of which the dedication is unknown, but was thought to have been consecrated in 1413.
The most prominent monument is the Obelisk which is 123 feet high and was erected in 1771 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Lord Camelford, in memory of his wife’s uncle and benefactor, Sir Richard Lyttelton. It is situated between Boconnoc and Braddock churches in the middle of an old military entrenchment near to where the Battle of Braddock Down was fought in the Civil War 1642-1646. During this period Boconnoc was involved in two significant battles. In January 1643 the Parliament forces under Col. Ruthven impatiently attempted to enter Cornwall, which was strongly Royalist. The opposing forces met near Braddock Church, the Royalists being commanded by Bevil Grenville and Ralph Hopton (both subsequently Knighted) marching from Boconnoc Park where they had bivouacked overnight. In a short time the Parliament forces were routed. A more important clash took place the following year when the King’s cause was beginning to wane. Lord Robartes of Lanhydrock (a sour Puritan) had indicated to the Earl of Essex, then commander-in-chief of the Parliament Army, that the Cornish were ready to surrender. Essex marched into the west, to be met by a strong force under Richard Grenville and Lord Goring and found he was pursued from the east by no less a person than the King with an a army of several thousands. The King made his headquarters at Boconnoc and the unfortunate Roundheads were gradually squeezed into Lostwithiel and Fowey, to their ultimate surrender at Castle Dore.
There are approximately 100 head of deer in the Deer Park contained within the grounds and also a garden of 20 acres which is open in the Spring for various charities. Boconnoc House and Park have been used for numerous film locations including the BBC Poldark series and scenes from the 1993 film of The Three Musketeers.
Photographs taken in the late 19th Century when George Matthew Fortescue and his family lived there.
The Boconnoc House from Avenue
Gallery looking West
The Flower Garden and Orangery
The Stream before the Lake was built