Back in the October half-term I visited Cornwall for a couple of days to stay with the in-laws: it is always a great visit because I get well-fed, get the opportunity to find a few geocaches in the morning, and usually come across a place of some historical interest (no matter how big or small). This October I wanted to visit Lostwithiel, which is only 15 minutes away and a place that we regularly drive through on the way to the in-laws. My urge to visit the town was due to recent research on the earls of Cornwall: back in the medieval period Lostwithiel was an important centre due to its closeness to Restormel Castle and due to being home to the ‘Duchy Palace’. I wanted to have a walk around, take a few photographs, and possibly conclude with a cream-tea (the sign of any successful outing).
The Duchy Palace is an interesting building: some of it remains in the 21st Century. It was important back when the earldom – and later duchy – had its administrative centre in Lostwithiel. This served a few functions, such as calculating income from the tin industry. It appears that it became more prominent during the late 13th century under the period of Earl Richard, the brother of Henry III. Under Richard’s son – Edmund – vast building work was undertaken, some of the remains of which can be seen today.
The Duchy Palace, Lostwithiel
It is surprising to see this piece of history within a street-scene, but Lostwithiel is filled with history – this includes the church and the impressive 12th Century bridge. The old is clearly on show and the town takes a clear pride in preserving and highlighting such history (as demonstrated in the various information boards dotted around the town).
The 12th Century Bridge, Lostwithiel
Having walked around the centre of the town – including the finding of a few geocaches – we retreated to a tea-room for a cream tea. The following day – having digested the cream tea – I visited Restormel Castle with my daughter. Again, this offers another window in the history of the area and provides a strong like with the old earldom and duchy of Cornwall. It was here where the Black Prince – the son of Edward III – held court on a couple of occasions during the 14th Century. It remains impressive today and one could easily imagine a medieval scene and attach the structure to its own more esteemed significance.
All in all, the town provided an enjoyable stroll through history, and has provided me with a greater understanding of the buildings that played such a significant role for Cornwall during the medieval age. I hope to expand on this with my recent research on the role of the earls of Cornwall in the near future.