Port Eliot comprises a stately home with its own church, which serves as the parish church of St Germans. An earlier church building was Cornwall's principal cathedral. The house is within an estate of 6,000-acre (2,400 ha) which extends into the neighbouring villages of Tideford, Trerulefoot and Polbathic and is listed Grade I.
Originally built as a priory with adjoining St Germans Priory Church, parts of the house date back to the twelfth century. It was substantially altered and remodelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by noted architects including Sir John Soane.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Eliot family invested heavily in the estate, building numerous farmhouses, fisherman's cottages and other dwellings across the land. Many of these remain part of the estate to this day and are rented out to local residents and friends of the family. Some properties, mainly lying remote from the estate, have been sold in recent years.
In 1980 a small festival which had outgrown its site at Polgooth in mid-Cornwall approached the Port Eliot estate and asked if it could be held in the idyllic grounds. The estate office agreed a price, and there began the Elephant Fayre, one of the most eclectic festivals of the 1980s. The festival ran from 1981–1986, beginning with some 1,500 visitors over four days, and featured a mix of music, theatre and visual arts. Over the years the festival grew, attracting crowds of up to 30,000 and bands such as The Cure, The Fall and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The burning down of the oldest tree in the park, looting of the village surgery and the robbing of stall-holders in 1985 prompted Lord Eliot and fellow organisers to make the 1986 festival the last.
Port Eliot FestivalEdit
In March 2008 the house and grounds opened to the public for the first time, for one hundred days, and attracted 12,000 visitors. The house and grounds are now open to the public for about three months each spring.
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