Arwenack House

Arwenack Street, Falmouth,
TR11 4AU

Once the Finest House in Town

Arwenack House is the oldest building in Falmouth, originally built in 1385 and then largely rebuilt around 1567-1571 by Sir John Killigrew, the first Governor of Pendennis Castle. At that time it was described as 'the finest and most costly house in the country'.

In 1567, Arwenack House was fortified as a stronghold and used to store merchandise stolen in smuggling raids on ships. Elizabeth and her husband paid large fees to harbour and city officials, bribing them to look the other way when carrying out their illicit activities.

Sir Walter Raleigh stayed with the Killigrews at Arwenack House and reputedly convinced Sir John Killigrew of the potential of the port. In 1613, Sir John Killigrew truly founded Falmouth. This was not particularly popular with the people of Truro and Penryn as their monopoly on the local trade was greatly affected.

The Killigrew family were at the time, the most powerful family in Cornwall and lived there for about 16 generations. And notorious since Mary Killigrew, Sir John Killigrew's wife was also one of Cornwall's most infamous pirates! Much of the original building was destroyed during the Civil War when it was the headquarters of the Roundhead Army besieging Pendennis Castle, and was rebuilt in 1786. It was Peter Killigrew who was persuaded by King Charles II to make the town the Royal Mail Packet Station. Their dominance ended in the 18th century when Peter Killigrew's son was killed in a duel. His son-in-law Martin took the Killigrew name – but he had no heirs bringing to an end one of the most powerful dynasties in Cornwall.

The Manor steadily fell to neglect and in the 1970's fell victim to yet a further fire. Extensive restoration work commenced in the 1980's and today the Grade II listed building is made up of private apartments and a house. The house is in private ownership and not open to the public.


Between Trago Mills and the National Maritime Museum.

Falmouth       National Maritime Museum       Falmouth Art Gallery       Pendennis Castle