MOUNT EDGECUMBE

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THE view of Mount Edgecumbe is taken from Cremhill point, a little to the south-
east of the entrance of Stonehouse Creek. About the centre of the view is perceived a
battery, near to the Old Blockhouse which was erected in the reign of Queen Elizabeth;
between the masts of the brig, which is sailing in towards the Hamoaze, the house is
seen; and to the left, in the distance, is Cawsand Bay.

For upwards of two hundred years the situation of Mount Edgecumbe, whether
looking towards it or from it, and the beauty of the grounds in its vicinity have been
the subject of general admiration. In visiting Mount Edgecumbe from Plymouth or
Devonport, the most usual way is to cross at the ferry from Cremhill point. The gardens
generally first claim the visitor’s attention. Near the lodge, on the left, is a garden laid out
in the Italian style, and surrounded by a bank planted with evergreens. In this garden
is the orangey, and opposite to it is a beautiful terrace, on which, and in the grounds
below, are several statues. The visitor is next shown the French flower-garden, which
is planted with the most beautiful shrubs and flowers, and was the favorite retreat of
Sophia, Countess of Mount Edgecumbe, who died in 1806, and to whose memory a
cenotaph, consisting of an urn and a tablet, is erected within its bounds. The English
garden and shrubbery display less art, but are no less beautiful than the imitative
gardens of Italy and France. In it is a bath of the Doric order, and a secluded walk
leads to a rocky excavation, overspread with ivy and other creeping plants, amidst lofty
evergreens: fragments of antiques are scattered amidst heaps of stones in this romantic
dell. In the pleasure-grounds, a path continued along the edge of a cliff, which affords
interesting views of the picturesque sinnosities of the coast, leads to a verdant lawn,
from which the sides rise with a gentle ascent in a semicircle. The activity above the
lawn is thickly shaded by a succession of trees, which form a magnificent amphitheatre,
and display an endless variety of foliage. From different parts of the amphitheatre, Bam
Poole presents the appearance of an extensive lake, without any visible communication
with the sea, from which it appears to be separated by the diversified hue of coast that
forms its boundary on every side. At the entrance of a wood near this spot is an Ionic
circular temple dedicated to Milton, whence the path continues on the margin of the cliff,
through plantations and shrubs, which fringe the rocky coast down to the brink of the
sea. In the more open part of the park is a mock ruin, intended as a picturesque object
from the grounds and from the opposite shore. A cottage near the cliff is overhung
with beautiful evergreen oaks, the windows of which command pleasing sea views in
opposite directions. After ascending a perpendicular rock, by a winding path of perilous
appearance, the great terrace at the arch presents itself, having the appearance of a

perforation in the cliff, the base of which is washed by the waves of the Sound.

The walks round the grounds are extremely pleasing, and from many points
excellent views are obtained of Plymouth Sound, the Hamoaze, Devonport, and the
surrounding country. It seems, however, doubtful if the circumstance of a nobleman’s
seat commanding a view of a large town, at the distance of less than a mile, be
an advantage to it. It is perhaps not altogether pleasant to have a country seat
overlooked by, and overlooking, a large town. Dr. Johnson, alluding to the view of
Mount Edgecumbe, has observed, that “though there is the grandeur of a fleet, there
is also the Impression of there being a dock-yard, the circumstances of which are not
agreeable.”

The house at Mount Edgecumbe was erected about the year 1550, by Sir
Richard Edgecumbe, who was sheriff of Devonshire in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of
Henry VIII., in the castellated style, with circular towers at the corners. About seventy
years ago, those towers were pulled down, and rebuilt in their present octangular form.
In the principal rooms is a collection of family portraits, including a few by Sir Joshua
Reynolds.

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