I'm spoiling you with all these lovely excursions but the weather's too nice to stay indoors so today we're going to walk along to here.
I've arranged for the coffee to be served when we arrive as it's now a very splendid hotel but it has always been known locally just as Endsleigh and originally Endsleigh Cottage.
The inscription on the foundation stone tells you all you need to know
"Endsleigh Cottage was built and a residence created in this sequestered valley by John, Duke of Bedford, the spot having previously been chosen from the natural and picturesque beauties which surround it by Georgiana, Duchess of Bedford.The first stone of the building was laid by her four eldest sons, Wriothesley, Edward, Charles Fox and Francis John, Sept 7, 1810"
Picturesque was the order of the day to the extent that the Duchess had a cottage built in these woods on the opposite Cornish banks of the Tamar. It was uninhabited but every morning a fire was lit in there so that the smoke could be seen coming out of the chimney.It's still possible to stroll along the Upper and Lower Georgies, Georgina's favoured walks.Imagine the family moving down here for the summer, the servants travelling ahead to prepare the house, one man being paid 14 shillings for the three days it took to plump up the feathers in the beds.
Just before you walk into part of the 1000 specimen arboretum you stumble across the most astonishing little shell house grotto crammed full of specimens from all over the world. Astonishing in that it would now be unthinkable to snaffle some coral and use it in this way, but this was the 19th century, specimen collecting was all the rage.
Rachel Trethewey has written an excellent account of Georgina's life, Mistress of the Arts: The Passionate Life of Georgina, Duchess of Bedford wherein you learn that her eventual fall from grace came about through her lengthy affair with the artist Edwin Landseer.
However my favourite account of Endsleigh and its environs comes from the late great author Penelope Fitzgerald who loved the area around us here.Her family lived in the village and she was a regular visitor. To think I probably stood behind her in the queue at the post office and never knew.
She gives a wonderful account in her piece entitled The Moors in one of my most treasured volumes, that of her collected writing A House of Air. She calls it "a site in a thousand" worked on by Wyatville and Humphrey Repton "who aimed at creating an earthly paradise".They didn't go far wrong.