Venture into the library at Antony, the Cornish country house owned by the National Trust and you’ll be struck by the full-length portrait of Sir Alexander Carew, ancestor of the Carew-Pole family who still live here. Dressed in in a splendid red ensemble with heeled white leather boots topped by a buff leather jerkin, Sir Alexander looks very much the dandy of his day.
During the civil war, in 1642, Sir Alexander was Governor of Drake’s Island in Plymouth harbour, close to the Antony estates. The island held a strategic position opposite the town and despite having sworn his allegiance to the Parliamentarians, Sir Alexander planned to deliver it to Royalist forces who were then besieging Exeter. But before he could put the plan into action, the plot was discovered and he was taken to London, tried and executed by the Parliamentarians.
If you look in the alcove to the left of the painting, you’ll see the very same leather jerkin on display that was worn in the portrait. Apparently it was rescued from the stables where it was being cut up to mend a harness. To the right you may see a charming framed photograph of Sir Alexander’s descendent, Sir Richard Carew Pole’s son wearing a copy of the outfit for fancy dress.
In those days, being on the right side at the right time in the English civil war could preserve your family estates to pass down the next generation, but choosing the wrong side could cost you your life – sadly Sir Alexander Carew got it wrong.
Read the full story of our weekend in Cornwall – Cliff Walks and Country Houses in Cornwall (and a bit of Devon)
Antony, near Torpoint in Cornwall is owned by the National Trust – please see their website for opening times.
We recommend the Dorling Kindersley Top 10 guide to Devon and Cornwall if you are visiting for a short time
Compare prices and book hotels in Tavistock through Hotels Combined
More things to enjoy in Devon and Cornwall
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