Historic Port Eliot estate could be broken up and parts sold off
Vast swathes of a historic Cornish estate could be sold off, the Western Morning News has learned.
The Port Eliot estate, centred around the historic house at St Germans, covers some 6,000 acres of land in South East Cornwall.
However, it emerged yesterday that the southern portion of the estate, south of the village of Polbathic and stretching to the south Cornwall coast, has been surveyed by agents and could be put up for sale.
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The area is believed to cover hundreds of acres and more than a dozen properties. Tenants on the affected land have already been informed.
Justin Lascelles, associate director at agents Savills, said: "We have been instructed to review the estate. We have obviously told tenants, been to see them, and looked at all the property.
"There may be a sale of certain parts of southern estate assets but there are no instructions for sale so far. I cannot say that some, all or any of the estate will be sold. Should any decision be made to sell part of the estate then any tenants affected will be notified."
The estate, which lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty, is currently owned by the 10th Earl of St Germans. The house, parts of which date back to the 9th century, was substantially remodelled by renowned architect Sir John Soane in the 18th century.
It boasts an envied art collection, including works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the celebrated 18th century painter who was born in Plympton, as well as significant works by Romney, Ramsey, Van Dyck and many of the Dutch Old Masters.
The tradition of artistic patronage continued with the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz being commissioned for a unique circular mural.
In 2008, the house and gardens were opened to visitors for the first time as part of an arrangement which allows national treasures to be donated to the state in place of inheritance tax.
More than 20 important paintings were transferred to the ownership of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, but remain at the house.
Renowned as the venue for the Elephant Fayre arts festivals in the 1980s, the estate has latterly become the home of the Port Eliot Festival – a literary and music festival bringing together authors, artists, poets and musicians in the grounds of the house.
The estate suffered a major blow in 2006 when the heir to the title, 40-year-old Lord Jago Eliot – son of Peregrine, the 10th Earl – died suddenly after having an epileptic fit in the bath. Jago, who lived in a farmhouse on the estate with his wife Bianca and their three young children (including Albert, aged 8, who is now the heir), lived a colourful life, during which he was a surfing champion, magician, and well-known high-society playboy.
Drugs, including cocaine and cannabis as well as pain killers and sleeping tablets, were found in his body, but at low levels. The coroner returned a verdict of "sudden unexpected death from epilepsy".