Arwenack House

Stroll along Grove Place opposite Discovery Quay (where the National Maritime Museum Cornwall is housed) and you will come across Arwenack House. Arwenack House is the oldest building in Falmouth, originally built in 1385 and then largely rebuilt around 1567-1571 by Sir John Killigrew, the first Governor of Pendennis Castle. At that time it was described as ‘the finest and most costly house in the country’.

The Killigrew family were at the time, the most powerful family in Cornwall and lived there for about 16 generations. And notorious since Mary Killigrew, Sir John Killigrew’s wife was also one of Cornwall’s most infamous pirates! Much of the original building was destroyed during the Civil War when it was the headquarters of the Roundhead Army besieging Pendennis Castle, and was rebuilt in 1786. It was Peter Killigrew who was persuaded by King Charles II to make the town the Royal Mail Packet Station. Their dominance ended in the 18th century when Peter Killigrew’s son was killed in a duel. His son-in-law Martin took the Killigrew name – but he had no heirs bringing to an end one of the most powerful dynasties in Cornwall.

The house fell into disrepair before being restored to something like its former glory in the 1980s. Intriguingly, across the road from Arwenack House stands a pyramid, built by Martin Killigrew that has no markings on it and thus its purpose is uncertain.