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Photographer: John C. Trotter

Penheale Manor

Gazetteer No. G0320

Date 1920

Address Launceston, Cornwall PL15 8RX England


One of the best gentry houses in Cornwall, of uncommon interest for both the sustained quality of the early c17 house, exemplifying the best of the strong Cornish provincial style of the period (cf. Lanhydrock, Godolphin, Prideaux Place (Padstow) and Trewan (St Columb Major)) and its spectacular early c20 extension by Edwin Lutyens…The Specotts continued at Penheale until 1920 when it was acquired and restored by Captain Norman Colville, who commissioned Lutyens to undertake major extensions. Lutyens was working at Castle Drogo, Devon, at that time and the similarities are striking. His large-scale additions are brilliantly conceived,* contrasting yet complementary to the original house and experienced as a surprise because they are hidden from the entrance court on the se side downslope as a second court. In a typical Lutyens touch, they are built of a lovely combination of silver grey Delabole slate walling with sage green Polyphant dressings, though the latter have not weathered well. Its main accent is asymmetrical and very bold, a tower-like structure, four storeys, sheer and with two bay windows, like a London block of flats. Yet it stands up perfectly to the old work, by virtue of its obstinate originality… To the w a row of three cottages and a washhouse, also by Lutyens, simple, with deep overhanging eaves. Lutyens also designed one of the formal gardens and a semicircular flight of steps modelled on those at Newton Ferrers. The gate lodge is Tudor Gothic, c. 1850…* Lutyens wrote to Colville on 9 September 1920: ‘Here are my proposals. It all seems to come simple enough now, but it was a difficult job, and I have been a long time over it.’ Quoted by Diana Colville, ‘Penheale – The Rebirth of a House’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (1989).(Beacham & Pevsner, 2014, pp.407-9)

Country house. Probably with medieval origins, although probably almost entirely rebuilt after 1572 for George Grenville. Extended and remodelled for John Specott in the 1630s and for his son Paul. Divided into 3 dwellings in the late C18. In the early C20 Sir Edwin Lutyens was responsible for adding a south range for Captain N.R. Colville. It appears that Lutyens was probably also responsible for several alterations to the exterior and interior of the earlier range. Stone rubble with ashlar granite north front. Cut slatestone, quartz and polyphant stone in the south range. Slate roofs. C17 moulded granite caps to the axial, end and lateral stacks. Plan: The arrangement of the plan is uncertain as the interior was not available for inspection at time of survey (1987). The entrance is near the centre of north elevation, leading into a wide through passage with courtyard to rear and flanked by principal rooms. There is a late C18 one-room plan wing to front left which is on the site of an earlier wing (see the Spoure Book). The wings to rear right and left enclose the first courtyard and the south ranges enclose a second courtyard which is largely surrounded by Sir Edwin Lutyens’ extensions. Lutyens’ extended the lower service wing and cellars on the south, south west and built a service range to the abutting a C19 cider house in the south west corner. Lutyens then continued the service range and nursery by returning the wing to north east and connecting with the earlier range. Exterior: North front of two storeys with moulded plinth, continuous string rising to form hood moulds to the ground and first floor windows. The symmetry is broken by the circa late C18 wing to front left. The entrance is near the centre with a 4- centred granite roll-moulded arch with hoodmould and datestone 1636 PS GS (Paul Specott and Grace). It is possible that this entrance was inserted, the Country Life article of 1925 suggests that the entrance was originally in the east end- of the front. Flanking the entrance a 6-light mullion window on left and two similar windows to right. First floor with 3 similar windows and 3-light mullion window above entrance. Battlemented parapet across north elevation. The rain water hoppers are of circa 1636 with Paul Specott’s arms impaling those of his first wife Grace Halswell. The earlier part of the west elevation has been reduced in height to one storey and cellar and was extended on right by Lutyens in a similar style, reusing the earlier stone for a front lateral stack. Across the south Lutyens added a 4- storey tower which is massive but simple in detail with two canted oriel bays on the south side, corbelling out over the ground floor. This tower contrasts with the adjoining C19 cider house on left which is of 2-storeys with simple shuttered openings. To right of the tower, Lutyens’ service range is of 2 storeys with multiple moulded surrounds to the mullion windows and gable end of cross wing on right. The east elevation of this wing contains a Lutyens’ nursery window at first floor level. Interior: Not accessible. The Country Life article of 1925 describes fine quality panelling and plasterwork including a hall screen of circa 1640, and oak panelled parlour. The Lutyens’ extension contains a stair of similar design but on a smaller scale to that of Castle Drogo (information from owner) and the service rooms contain joinery and carpentry details by Lutyens. (Historic England, list entry 1160121)


Beacham P & Pevsner N (2014) Cornwall. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Historic England.PENHEALE MANOR. [Online] Available from:

Also Cited In

Gradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.

Pevsner, N. and Radcliffe, E. (1970) Cornwall. The Buildings of England (second edition). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

EDWARDS, R., 1925. COUNTRY HOMES GARDENS OLD & NEW: PENHEALE MANOR HOUSE–I. CORNWALL. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 57(1473), pp. 484-491.

EDWARDS, R., 1925. COUNTRY HOMES GRADENS OLD & NEW: PENHEALE MANOR HOUSE–II. CORNWALL. The Seat of CAPTAIN N. R. COLVILLE. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 57(1474), pp. 524-531.

Listing Grade

I, II*, II*, II, I

Listing Reference

1160121 1365636 1142920 1000653 1142958


Capt P Colville