History, Art and gardens in West Cornwall

West Cornwall is rich with history and culture, from ancient settlements to modern art. It is also famous for its lush tropical gardens, and Penzance is a great base to explore its unique cultural offerings.

St Michaels Mount

History
For those who want to visit the historic sites of Cornwall, the landscape is dotted with atmospheric settlements dating back thousands of years Visitors can wander around the remains of an Iron Age village at Chysauster (6km), or marvel at the Merry Maidens of Boleigh, a mystical Neolithic stone circle (8km). The castle at St Michael’s Mount (6km) is a must-visit – the earliest parts date back to the 12th century and it is steeped in romance. Meanwhile the mysterious Godolphin House and Estate – 14.5km from Penzance – has a history stretching back to the Bronze Age.

Parts of Cornwall’s famous mining landscape are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps the most spectacular site is at Botallack (13km), where old tin mines cling to the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A trip to Porthcurno (13km) is also a must – aside from the renowned and stunning Minack Theatre built into the cliffs, the Telegraph Museum uncovers how this tiny village was once at the heart of international telecommunications.

Art

West Cornwall has a long tradition of attracting world-class artists and there are numerous galleries showing their work. Among them is Penlee House in Penzance. Just two minutes walk from Venton Vean, it exhibits some of the best paintings by the famous Newlyn School of artists. Art buffs will also want to visit Tate St Ives – 11km from Penzance – which shows work by modern British artists with links to the area. It has recently been extended, and also encompasses the studio and garden of world-famous sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

The Newlyn Gallery and The Exchange in Newlyn/Penzance and The Jackson Foundation in St Just celebrate the thriving contemporary art scene, and there are a number of commercial galleries selling local work. Here at Venton Vean we have collected art from leading local artists, which is on display in the house and guest bedrooms.

Gardens
This area enjoys a unique microclimate, due to its position on the far south-western tip of Britain. The mild climate provides the perfect conditions for subtropical plants to flourish, resulting in unique and beautiful gardens such as the Morrab Gardens in the centre of Penzance. Just over 1km from Venton Vean, Trewidden and Trengwainton gardens were founded in the 19th century by intrepid Victorian plant hunters and feature collections of rare camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias.

The wonderful new sculpture gardens at Tremenheere (3km) offer a more contemporary experience, with impressive works by artists such as James Turrell, along with sweeping views over Mount’s Bay. Or simply relax in our own garden, which contains a fine selection of subtropical plants including tree ferns, camellias and abutilons making it the perfect base to visit the Gardens in Cornwall.