Boconnoc House is a beautiful Cornish mansion built in the eighteenth century by two members of the influential Pitt family. The first house was constructed here in spacious grounds in 1721 by Thomas Pitt who had been Governor of Madras. Thomas was also the brother of English prime minister William Pitt the Elder. This means that in due course he was to become uncle to another English prime minister, William Pitt the Younger.
In 1772 a second Thomas Pitt – grandson to the first - added a second wing to form an L-shaped stately home surrounded by landscaped gardens. The Pitts were a remarkably successful political family (even if they lacked imagination when it came to choosing Christian names).
During the nineteenth century the estate passed through various family members, including Lord Grenville (yet another prime minister) until it ended up in the hands of the Fortescues who still own it today. They demolished the secondary wing in 1971. In 1993 they leased the house as a location for filming the Walt Disney version of the Three Musketeers. This version starred Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Chris O'Donnell, who found himself nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Supporting Actor in a film (he lost to Woody Harrelson).
Today Boconnoc House has come to the end of a 12-year restoration project and is a gracious self-catering property filled with family portraits, modern art, and busts of the Pitt family. It is run by Elizabeth Fortescue, her daughters and a small staff. The main house contains nine bedrooms and must be rented in its entirety – perfect for a house party. Some people cook for themselves but many hire a chef, something that Boconnoc can help arrange. If that sounds too expensive, there are three self-catering cottages in the grounds. Dairy Cottage sleeps up to nine, Grooms Cottage up to seven and the Head Groom’s Cottage six.
There is much to do when staying at Boconnoc. The Eden Project and the mellow south Cornish Coast are both about ten miles away. Cycling, riding, canoeing and paddle-boarding can all be arranged but if you fancy something more restful there are three walks through the gardens and grounds. Climb to the top of the Shrubbery or Deer Park for sundowners, try the 35-minute Lake Walk or the 1 hour 20 minutes Deer Park walk, which takes you along the Valley Crucis and brings you back to the house by the river, taking in a view which you may well recognise as the location for the film’s opening duel and pursuit.