Boconnoc House and Garden

Boconnoc House and Garden


Near Lostwithiel, PL22 0RG
Tel: (01208) 872507


Huge Cornish Estate

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 eight ploughs but only one plough there with one slave. There were two villagers and six 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 first recorded owners were the De Cant family in 1268 and from 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.

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. Charles I stayed at Boconnoc House in August 1644. The most prominent monument is the Obelisk which is 123 feet high and was erected in 1771 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron 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. During this period Boconnoc was involved in two significant battles. In January 1643 the Parliament forces under Colonel 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 Sir 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.

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 re-built it. Later, Thomas Pitt purchased the estate in 1718 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 Lord Warden of the Stannaries in 1750 and Prime Minister in 1766.

Boconnoc House was built in the 18th century by two members of the Pitt family: one wing was built in 1721 by Thomas Pitt (1653-1726), Governor of Madras, and the other in 1772 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Baron Camelford (1737-1793). The two wings formed an L-shape and the grounds are finely landscaped: on a hill behind the house is an obelisk built in 1771 in memory of Sir Richard Lyttelton (1718-1770).

The 1st Baron Camelford (1737-1793) was succeeded by his son Thomas, 2nd Baron Camelford (1775-1804), who continued the development of the park and pleasure grounds in a Picturesque style. In 1804 the second Baron Camelford died in London as the result of a duel at the age of twenty-nine. Baron Camelford was succeeded by his elder sister Anne, who was married to William Wyndham, Lord Grenville, Prime Minister who died in 1834. Under Lord and Lady Grenville a pinetum was planted at Boconnoc, and massed woodland plantings of rhododendron and other subjects were introduced.

The Fortescue's

On the death of Lady Anne Grenville in 1864, the Boconnoc Estate was bequeathed to George Matthew Fortescue (1791-1877), son of Lord Grenville's sister, Hester, who had married the first Earl Fortescue of Castle Hill, Devon. George had married Louisa Elizabeth, daughter of Dudley Ryder, Earl of Harrowby in 1833 and they had been living at Boconnoc since then. After the death of George Matthew Fortecue he was succeeded by his son, Cyril Dudley Fortescue (1847-1890), who was an officer in the Coldstream Guards. His younger brother, John Bevill Fortescue (1850-1938), who was the High Sheriff, succeeded in 1891. In 1938 George Grenville Fortescue (1892-1967), the eldest son, succeeds. In 1967 the estate passes to John Desmond Fortescue JP (1919-2017), High Sheriff. And in 1995 his son, Anthony Desmond Grenville Fortescue (1946-2015), took over the running of the Estate with his wife Elizabeth.

On the 9th November 1940 a German bomber crashed landed on the Boconnoc Estate during the night, there were no survivors. Parts of the aircraft including some explosives have been found for years since.

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.

There are approximately 100 head of deer in the Deer Park contained within the grounds and also a garden of twenty acres which is open in the Spring as a flower show 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.

After 1969 the house was not lived in due to the need of expensive maintenance. Under the supervision of its current owner Antony Fortescue and his wife Elizabeth, Boconnoc house has undergone a complete restoration. In 2012 Boconnoc was awarded the Historic Houses Association / Sotheby's Restoration Award and The Georgian Group Award for the restoration of a country mansion.

Anthony Fortescue, owner of Boconnoc and High Sheriff of Cornwall, was found dead on the 9th November 2015 following a firearms incident which is not being treated as suspicious.

The estate, surrounding the River Lerryn, contains a deer park, lake and woodland. Parts of the estate are designated as Boconnoc Park Important Plant Area and Boconnoc Park & Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest.


Midway between Liskeard and Lostwithiel south of the A390.


Spring Flower Show - April.

The Boconnoc Steam Fair - July.

Opening Times

Four Sundays
per year

Admission Charged

Ethy House and Gardens       Lerryn       Liskeard       Lostwithiel