The Captain's House

Lower Porthmeor, Cornwall


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
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • MicrowaveMicrowave

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

4 nights from
£296 equivalent to £18.50 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

Drone footage

Floor Plan


5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Independent feedback based on 20 verified reviews.

Filter reviews
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. 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.

Discover local walks for dogs with our friends at, the dog walks community. 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

Clear directions

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. 

For a short history of Lower Porthmeor please click here.

To read the full history album for Lower Porthmeor please click here.

To download the children's Explorer pack for The Captain's House please click here.


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.

Essential Info
What you need to know about this building
  • Yes. You are welcome to bring up to two dogs. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if you have an assistance dog, for which there is no charge.
  • Directly from the main road.
  • Penzance – 7 miles.
  • Yes – there are two parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • There is oil-fired central heating and a multi-fuel stove.
  • Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit* Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
    * Links to other sites are provided for information purposes only.  We do not endorse any such websites and we are not responsible for the information, material, products or services contained on or accessible through those websites.  Your access and use of such websites remains solely at your own risk.  For further information, visit our website terms of use.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • No – normal staircase.
  • Yes, some of the doorways have low headroom
  • There is a garden (not enclosed). The Cornish coastal path runs between the Captain’s House and the Farmhouse.
  • 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. Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
Booking and Payment
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two 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 and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • 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.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • 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
  • 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.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • 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
  • 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. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • 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.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • 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.
  • 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 visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • 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.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • 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.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • 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. Hairdryers are provided.
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.