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Grand living at Coleton Fishacre near Dartmouth

Coleton Fishacre is the arts & crafts style family home of the D'Oyly Carte family. Furnished in 1920s style, the house is surrounded by superb gardens.
A close neighbour of , the former home of Agatha Christie, is the equally gorgeous . Often described as having one of the best gardens in the National Trust collection, the arts and crafts style property was built for the D’Oyly Carte family, known for their opera company.

The house is located in a sheltered valley, a short but scenic drive from the Dartmouth-Kingswear ferry which is best way to reach it.

Explore the D’Oyly-Carte family home at Coleton Fishacre

A tour of the beautifully furnished Art Deco house takes you back to life in the 1920s when the family were in residence, along with their servants. The library and homely sitting room are pleasantly furnished with period pieces, although no family items remain, which is a shame.

The rooms were certainly designed with the views in mind and the atmosphere is enhanced with background music from some of the D’Oyly Carte’s Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Children can enjoy trying on the hats and 1920s clothing provided in the hands-on room which is fun. Behind the scenes includes a look into the kitchen, laundry, drying room, larder and a simply furnished maid’s bedroom.

Garden highlights

As a garden-lover the wonderful plantings of unusual shrubs, flowers and trees make this an outstanding place to visit. The sheltered valley and windbreak careen of trees provides a microcosm for exotic species such as tree ferns to thrive, normally native to Australia.

There are excellent guided tours with one of the gardeners each afternoon, so it’s well worth arranging your visit to take in one of these informative tours. There’s so much you miss out on if you explore on your own.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy these RHS approved gardens which are full of camellias, snowdrops and daffodils, followed later by bluebells and wild garlic in the woodland areas. Later in the year you can enjoy the rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gorgeous herbaceous beds.

Close to the house are more formal gardens with a rill or manmade stream which feeds the waterfall and ponds. The Rill Garden is planted with pastel coloured flowers, apparently harking back to when Lady Dorothy looked out onto the garden from her room and requested that the garden should have her favourite pastel colours.

Walks around Coleton Fishacre

Footpaths twist and turn through the well-planned sloping garden. They provide wonderful views of the sea, if you remember to look up from the flower beds! Being on a slope down to the sea, there are many steps to contend with which can be tricky for those who have difficulty walking.

Beyond the extensive gardens you can extend your walk along the coastal path, which is well worth doing for the views, although the paths are rather steep in places. The goes all the way to and beyond, if you are feeling energetic, with views out to Black Rocks.

After all that walking around, the café is sure to beckon and is certainly to a very high standard. As a novelty, each month there is a different savoury scone to try, so if you have never sampled stilton and walnut scones, cheddar and poppy seed, or carrot and coriander, now’s your chance! Homity pie, made from leeks, cheese and potatoes is another local favourite. The gift shop focuses on nautical and Art Deco themed items with some lovely gifts and goodies.

We’d love your feedback and comments if you have visited Coleton Fishacre. Feel free to let us know what your favourite part of this National Trust home and gardens is in the comments box below.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

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