Trematon Castle

Trematon Castle and Gardens

Kastel Tremen

One mile South West of Saltash, PL12 4QW

The Black Prince's Castle

Situated on high ground above the picturesque village of Forder, near Saltash where the River Lynher empties itself into the Tamar. Unlike other medieval castles, Trematon does not dominate the surrounding countryside. Rather, it lies hidden in the folds of the hills and woods. It is a castle which fulfils perfectly the aims of its builders, providing a vantage point from which to observe without being observed.

As well as being unusual in the subtlety of its location, Trematon also differs from the other Norman castles in Cornwall in that it is still a part of a private home. The castle was built by Robert, Count of Mortain in 1090. Begun in the eleventh century and completed about two hundred years later, it has been the family residence of General Porter. It is similar in design to Restormel Castle and Launceston Castle, the keep standing high on a man-made hill and a long well preserved curtain wall stretching out from the tower. This wall surrounds and protects the lovely house which was constructed on the bailey some 700 years later during the Regency period. The combination of medieval castle and Regency mansion is that the two buildings blend to produce a residence of unique character. Beneath the old keep there is on the outside a cave labelled "Witches Cave". This recess runs for several feet underneath the ramparts, it is probably the remains of an ancient chapel.

Tradition has it that Trematon became Prince Edward's (the Black Prince) favourite castle in Cornwall and that he stopped there at regular intervals on his way to and from the seemingly endless wars with France.

In 1549 Trematon was leased to a loyal supporter of King Edward VI, Sir Richard Grenville, and the castle became one of the strongholds of the Crown. In an attempt to destroy this outpost of opposition to the Cornish cause, one of the rebel leaders, Sir Humphrey Arundell, attacked the castle forcing Grenville and his men to take refuge within the walls.

In 1580 following his voyage of circumnavigation and successful privateering on the Spanish Main, Sir Francis Drake is reputed to have used the castle as a store for the treasure he had amassed. Estimates put the value of his haul at £20 million at today's prices! The treasure was placed in the castle when Drake returned to Plymouth and later most of it was shipped to London to a grateful Queen Elizabeth.

Saltash was founded as a market town by the lord of Trematon Castle in the 12th century. Saltash was sited at a point where an ancient highway crossed the Tamar estuary by means of a ferry. By the end of that century Saltash had achieved borough status. From the time of the Norman Conquest until 1270 the rights for the ferry from Saltash Passage on the Plymouth side of the River Tamar to Saltash belonged to the Valletort family. When Roger de Valletort sold Trematon Castle and Manor to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the rent was paid to the Earl's bailiff. The Castle has remained the property of the Earls and Dukes of Cornwall without interruption since 1270, when Earl Richard bought it for £300.

In 1961 Trematon was leased for 21 years from the Duchy of Cornwall by Lord and Lady Caradon. They have lived here for many years and deserve a great deal of the credit for the castle's excellent state of preservation. It subsequently became the home in Cornwall of Hugh Foot, Lord Caradon, and his son Paul Foot, a campaigning journalist, spent some of his youth there. In 2012, garden designers Julian and Isabel Bannerman moved in and began to plant a garden.

Queen Elizabeth II visited the Castle on 25th July 1962 accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Sir Edward Bolitho, before driving to Fowey and embarking in HMY 'Britannia'.


Sign-posted from the A38 one mile south of Saltash.

Opening Times

Garden Only
Thursday, Friday & Saturday
11.00am - 4.30pm
April to End of September

Admission Charged

Launceston Castle       Pendennis Castle       Restormel Castle       St. Mawes Castle       Tintagel Castle

Cornwall's History       Ince Castle