The Captain's House

Lower Porthmeor, Cornwall

Overview

This simple granite house shares its spectacular Cornish clifftop setting with The Farmhouse. Lower Porthmeor is typical of the farm hamlets that dot this green coastal shelf west of St Ives.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • RemoteRemote

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
4
4 nights from
£214 equivalent to £13.38 per person, per night

Moors on one side, Atlantic on the other.

We bought this farmstead, which had been derelict for years, in conjunction with the National Trust. The Berryman family were an ancient Cornish family who had lived at Lower Porthmeor before 1600. The Captain’s House dates from the 1840s, when it was the childhood home of Arthur Berryman, the last of the family. The house has a massive kitchen fireplace and a snug parlour. There were once two houses, before the lower half was long ago given over to animals, in the traditional longhouse way. Despite its fine sea views, this four-square granite house takes its name not from a sea captain but the future career of young Arthur Berryman, who grew up to be both a farmer and a Captain in a tin mine. He practised his mining elsewhere, and the deserted chimneys of such former mines have earned West Cornwall World Heritage Site status – just one more aspect of this rich county for you to explore.

A landscape dating back to the Iron Age

The surrounding landscape is a patchwork of small, drystone walled enclosures that date back to the early fields divisions created by farmers of the Iron Age. If you stride across them for a few miles, you come to Chysauster, where you will find a rare survival of the remains of an Iron Age village, an atmospheric reminder of Britain before the Romans. Also nearby is lovely Zennor, where mermaids adorn the church, and the ever-popular St Ives, with its lively art galleries and surfing beaches.

See all our Landmarks at Lower Porthmeor

‘Oh when will we learn? 4 days is just not enough time. Just as the Landmark spell began to weave its magic, it is time to go back home to the heaving metropolis.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

 

 

 

‘Oh when will we learn?
Four days is not
enough time.

Just as the Landmark spell
began to weave its magic,
it was time to go back home.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

The Captain’s House, in the farm hamlet of Lower Porthmeor backing onto the West Cornwall moors, has its own sheltered granite walled garden offering expansive views of stonehedged fields and the sea.

The nearby pretty village of Zennor is a popular stopping off point for walkers on the renowned South West Coast Path. Take a short drive east of Zennor, or follow the challenging but spectacular coastal path, to visit the wonderful seaside town of St Ives  with its beautiful beaches and winding streets full of pretty cottages and shops.

A visit to the Tate St Ives is a must for any art lover, as is the Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden. You can a gain a 50% discount on entry to both of these places with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

Explore the Lands End Peninsula to enjoy the stunning scenery as well as the beautiful beaches at Sennen, one of the many places for  surfing enthusiasts.

Take a look at our Pinterest map for more ideas of things to do and see during your stay at The Captain's House.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

See all our Landmarks at Lower Porthmeor

The Captain's House
Lower Porthmeor, Cornwall
Clear directions
History

Representative of many hamlets in north Penwith

You will no longer find a village called Porthmeor on a map and the name has passed instead to one of Cornwall’s most famous surfing beaches, a few miles round the headland in St Ives. Lower Porthmeor, in its grouping and siting and the forces that have gone into its continuation, is representative of many other hamlets on this northern shelf of Penwith, and is also among the most attractive of all the groups of buildings along a visually staggering stretch of coast.

Apart from the fact of its existence, we know nothing for certain about the hamlet’s appearance before 1600, at the earliest. The likelihood is that the settlement would have been laid out in a similar way to today, but on a much smaller scale, with tiny yards and enclosures. The earliest houses would have been little different from the humble single storey building on the north of the site, with a single door and two tiny windows. The cow-houses and other agricultural buildings would have been like that next to it.

Houses excavated at Mawgan Porth near Newquay of the 8th or 9th century were found to have been of this kind, although there the walls were constructed in the same manner as Cornish hedges - two skins of stone, with packed clay or earth between.  Sometimes there would have been a sleeping loft, sometimes they may have conformed to the "long-house" pattern, with the outer room acting as a byre for animals.


We shudder with discomfort at the thought of living in such structures today, and certainly, as soon as wealth permitted, they were improved on.  Yet they were solid and well-insulated, providing warmth as well as shelter. As a building type they endured for over a thousand years, well into the 17th century.

It was not until then that the prosperity that had brought about the boom in vernacular house construction known as Great Rebuilding reached this westernmost peninsula, a century later than other parts of the country.  Then the older houses started to be rebuilt, with an additional storey, or new windows perhaps, and another room built on the end.  As with their predecessors, few of these survive, having vanished when they themselves were rebuilt, unless put to new use as a farm building, or kept on as the dwelling of a labourer or poor relation.  A garden wall at Higher Porthmeor is in fact part of another such house, of quite a substantial kind.  The Upper House at Higher Porthmeor also bears witness to its 17th-century origin, with a lintel carved with the date 1682. No doubt other fragments have been reused in later buildings, such as window lintels, and dressed stone quoins.

The other great improvement by the 17th century was the chimney.  None of this date survive, as such, at Porthmeor, but a method of construction was developed which endured into the 20th century, with very little change apart from the disappearance after 1700 of a chamfered edge on the great stones of the fireplace surrounds.  Both the Captain’s House and The Farmhouse has one of these huge projecting chimneypieces, and they occur in most of the other farms along the coast.  Matthews in 1892 remarked of them: "Here may still be commonly seen the immense open chimney, with dried furze and turf piled up on the earthen floor of the kitchen".

None of the houses at Lower Porthmeor dates from before the end of the 18th century.  Even then few houses in Penwith were built with two full storeys; the pattern remained that of a single storey with a now rather more spacious loft.  So the house nearest the road – now known as The Captain’s House - contains within its larger end a smaller and lower house, the roofline of which was found in the walls when plaster was stripped off in 1988.  This could date from 1800 or even a bit before.  However the Tithe Apportionment Map for Zennor of 1842, although it lists a house and garden here, only shows what seems to be a smaller building again, hardly even a house.  The National Trust's Vernacular Buildings Surveyors have suggested that this was because the house was only then being built - and such are the difficulties of dating, a range of fifty years either way is quite acceptable.

The house that almost certainly does date from soon after 1800 is The Farmhouse, which is clearly marked on the Tithe Map of 1842.  It also appears in the first edition of the 1" Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1805, although not published until 1813.  The leap in terms of civilisation from the earlier houses is immense.

The Farmhouse has been little altered, but The Captain’s House, has gone through a number of different stages.  First there was the small house already described.  Then a building was added onto its lower end, blocking a window in the gable.  It is thought that the new building began life as a cow-house, because a drain runs out of it directly under one of the sides of the fireplace, which must therefore be a later addition, to convert this end into a house as well.  A house it certainly was in 1860 when Arthur Berryman (known to family tradition as Captain Arthur) was born there.  Soon afterwards, however, the upper end was enlarged, with a full second storey added.  The family moved in there, and the lower end became a cow-house or stable again, and has remained so.  This had happened by the time of the 1881 census, when an uninhabited house was recorded.

The other farm buildings at Lower Porthmeor are all 19th century.  The long cow-house, running uphill from The Farmhouse, is marked on the 1842 Tithe Map.  It already had a granary (locally called a barn or chall-barn) at the top end.  On the upper floor of this the grain was stored, while cows lived below.  Another cow-house, known as the Four-house for obvious numerical reasons, was added in the later 19th century by Robert Berryman, Captain Arthur's father.  Robert Berryman also built the very charming, and rather grand, barn (i.e granary) immediately next to the Farmhouse, probably in about 1880.  Its cambered lintels may, perhaps, have been reused from another building.  It had a pig-house on its lower end, and there was another pig-house, now roofless, at the other side of the yard. 

To read more about the history of Lower Porthmeor please click here.

Restoration

Destroyed by gales

When Landmark took on Lower Porthmeor, both houses were derelict, and the farm buildings were also in a poor state, after severe gales a few years before. Slate roofs had been replaced with corrugated iron or tin, sections of which had blown off. Work began with the roofs. These had traditional Cornish scantle slates - small slates in courses of diminishing size set in a bed of lime mortar; and they have been renewed in the same manner, with slates from the Delabole quarry, near Camelford in North Cornwall.

The repair of the Captain’s House has had to be equally thorough, and since the masonry of the walls was of a less high quality, quite a lot of grouting and filling has had to be done, as well as repointing. It was decided to leave the lower end as the half-house, half-stable that it had become, with new windows to make the front more presentable, but the interior left as a shell. The projecting fireplace here is very good.

The barn has been given a new roof and doors, but otherwise we have just made the farm buildings sound and left them be. We did remove a crumbling carthouse (and the machinery that had solidified inside it) from the end of the Inside House, however. Grace's House and the building next to it are not part of our property, and still belong to the Berrymans.

The walls and enclosures that divide the settlement and give some shelter from the terrific winds, are as important as the buildings themselves, and give the farm much of its character as an extension of the geological landscape. Some of them have been repaired already, and others will be in due course. Where buildings have become derelict, such as the pig-house, no attempt will be made to reverse this, although the effects of time will not be given free reign in future. This extraordinary and beautiful place is still part of the serviceable architecture of Penwith, and must not be encouraged to become a new layer in its archaeology, like the mine engine houses. With the help of the Berrymans, and the National Trust, it looks unlikely that it will.

FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Penzance – 7 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes – there are two parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is oil-fired central heating and a multi-fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No – normal staircase.
  • Does this Landmark have low headroom?

    Yes, some of the doorways have low headroom
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a garden (not enclosed). The Cornish coastal path runs between the Captain’s House and the Farmhouse.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.