Lanhydrock House in Bodmin was originally built in the 1620s. For over 300 years, it was the home of the Robartes family. The house was badly damaged in a fire in 1881, and afterwards rebuilt. 


Lanhydrock, near Bodmin


Built in the 1620s

Photograph of the front door to Lanhydrock House
The front door to Lanhydrock House
Read more articles in our book.

Early history

Lanhydrock House was built in the 1600s but the estate (the surrounding land) is much older. Until 1530, it was religious land belonging to the Priory of St Petroc. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, church property was taken away and given to important landowners instead. 


The 1600s

In 1620, the land was sold to Sir Richard Robartes. A rich local merchant (trader), Sir Richard planned to create a large manor house. He began work on Lanhydrock but died soon after. His son John continued the building, which was finally finished in 1651.

John Robartes went to Oxford University and mixed with many important people in English society. He disagreed with many of the policies of Charles I and believed the King was being given bad advice. When Civil War broke out in 1642, he became a Parliamentarian and fought against King Charles. Many people believe that it was John who encouraged the Parliamentarians to march into Cornwall in 1644. 

When Charles II came to the throne in 1660, John returned to a quiet life at Lanhydrock. He later became an important politician.


The 1800s

Lanhydrock remained in the same family for many years. By the 1800s, their surname had changed to Agar-Robartes.

On 4th April 1881, a devastating fire ripped through the building. Juliana Agar-Robartes, the lady of the house, became trapped and was rescued through an upstairs window. Lanhydrock was almost destroyed, with only one part saved. To stop the fire spreading, this section was cut from the rest of the house with axes, saws and dynamite.

We don’t know how it began, but it was in the roof – a terrible smoke filled the House at one o’clock and soon the fire was seen above the kitchen. Letter from Juliana Agar-Robartes to her son Thomas Charles

A replacement house was built to guard against fire, with thick concrete ceilings and fire extinguishers. Lanhydrock even had its own fire engine.


The First World War

Juliana and her husband Thomas died soon after the fire and Lanhydrock passed to their son, Thomas Charles. He and his wife Mary moved into the new house with their growing family. 

Thomas and Mary’s eldest son was also called Thomas, but known as Tommy. In 1910, Tommy became a local Liberal politician. He was popular and fashionable, being described as ‘the best dressed man in Parliament’. 

When the First World War began in 1914, Tommy and his brothers Alexander, Victor and Cecil volunteered to fight. Another brother, Gerald, worked at the Foreign Office and their sister Constance became a nurse. In September 1915, Tommy was injured at the Battle of Loos while trying to save another soldier. He died three days later and was buried in France.

He came 80 to 100 yards right across the open in broad daylight and within 200 yards of the enemy and dragged me into safety Sergeant Hopkins


The Second World War

During the Second World War, Lanhydrock became a home for evacuees: children who had been moved out of cities to avoid the bombing. Years later, many still remembered how kind the family were to them, and how much fun they had there. During the summer, the group went on trips to the beach and played games on the lawn. 

The large estate was also handy in other ways. Woodland was used to store ammunition, because the thick trees meant enemy planes couldn’t see it from above. At times, army battalions camped on the estate land while they were travelling. 

In 1953, Lanhydrock was given to the National Trust. Today, the house, gardens and estate are open to visitors. 



A Victorian Family at Lanhydrock

England, M, A Victorian Family at Lanhydrock (1999)

The Lanhydrock Evacuees

England, M, ‘The Lanhydrock Evacuees’, Lanhydrock (2014)
Visit the website

Tommy Agar Robartes (1880-1915)

Holden, P, ‘Tommy Agar Robartes (1880-1915)’, Lanhydrock (2015)
Visit the website

Lanhydrock: the First Three Centuries

Howells, G and England, M, Lanhydrock: the First Three Centuries (2008)

Suggested for you

Civil War re-enactment in Cornwall

Sir Richard Grenville

Read more
Postcard showing Pendennis Castle in 1909

Pendennis Castle

Read more
Typographic Illustration about the Civil War of 1642-1651

The Civil War

Read more
Plasticine Illustration of World War 2 D-Day Landings

The Battle for Hill 112

Read more