Pentillie Castle, St Mellion

Within the walls of an Pentillie Castle, Rosanna Rothery is charmed by tranquillity, timeless elegance and a juicy tale or two

It’s hard to resist indulging in a Downton moment when a) you turn into the drive and the satnav orders you to ‘continue for half a mile’, b) you ring the doorbell and it echoes down the corridors of a magnificent fortress-style building, and c) a butler-esque chap opens the door and welcomes you as if you were an old friend of the owners.

Pentillie Castle, built in 1698, has all the grandeur and history of a National Trust property but without any of the look-but-don’t-touch vibes. Sarah and Ted Coryton, who inherited the 2,000-acre estate in 2007, have turned it into one of the most idyllic, yet homely, wedding and event locations in the South West.

VISIT to be nosy. There was a time when the nine-bedroomed Pentillie was a private residence and out of bounds to the public so, if you love local history, there’s much to lap up here. Colourful family stories span everything from a suspicious death to one forebear’s demand that, after his demise, his body be dressed in his best clothes and placed in a chair with port and cigars by his side.

The monthly Dinner in the Castle event is the perfect excuse for a snoop: sip a G&T in the genteel drawing room, or head to the terrace to imbibe fresh air and an utterly magical vista which sweeps down to the tranquil waters of the River Tamar. You may be only 20 minutes from Plymouth but the beguiling stillness belies reality. Local fare is served with white-tableclothed decorum by friendly staff in the dining room – overlooked by an assortment of ancestors whose portraits hang on the walls.

Dishes such as shoulder of lamb with spring vegetable, or plaice with parsley creamed potatoes, are the kind of well-executed classics which will please even the fussiest wedding guest (the venue specialises in hosting harmonious ceremonies).

DON’T VISIT without your walking shoes. Arrive early to explore the gardens (designed in part by the late great landscape architect Humphry Repton), which feature wooded slopes leading down to the river. With plenty of secret and wild spots to be discovered, the grounds are a dazzling attraction.

WE LIKED that you can stay overnight on a B&B basis. More relaxed than a formal hotel, Pentillie runs plenty of events throughout the year and five star accommodation and a good drinks list lure guests to stay the night. Fans of Sky 1’s Delicious will also enjoy spotting the locations used by Dawn French, Emilia Fox et al.

What we ate (dinner)

Starter Warm smoked haddock salad, soft poached hen’s egg, celery and curry cream

Main Dandelion and wild garlic gnocchi, wild garlic pesto, brassicas

Pud White and dark chocolate mess

3 courses from £35; B&B from £160

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