A magical timeless place…
When you visit the Pandora Inn, it’s easy to forget you’re in the 21st century. Its spectacular setting on the edge of Restronguet Creek is timeless.
Steeped in history, parts of the Inn date back to the 13th Century. With its flagstone floors, low-beamed ceilings and thatched roof it’s not difficult to believe that little has changed since that time. In the 13th century, there was a farm on the site. In 1488, the Restronguet Estate Accounts state that the rent was 8s 4d a year.
The building later became known as the Passage House. Lake’s ‘Parochial History of Cornwall’ (141) states: “There is a passing-boat kept there, it being the post-road and by much the nearest cut from Falmouth to Truro.” For centuries, this remained one of the main roads until the Truro turnpike was opened in 1828.
The inn changed its name – this time to The Ship, and its tenant, Joseph B Collins, paid the landlord, Colonel Tremayne, £13.0d annual rent. A clause in the lease stated that “no intoxicating liquor shall be sold on the Sabbath” – a clause that was later removed – fortunately!
The inn was re-named in memory of the HMS Pandora, the naval ship sent to Tahiti to capture the mutineers of Captain Bligh’s Bounty. Unfortunately, the Pandora struck a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef in 1791 and sank with the loss of many crew and mutineers. The captain, Captain Edwards, was court-martialled on his return to Cornwall where he is reputed to have bought this inn.
On 24 March 2011, the Pandora Inn suffered a devastating fire. The whole of the first floor was destroyed and only a few charred timbers remained. No one was hurt and once the shock of the fire had subsided, it became apparent that the blaze had given the owners an opportunity to give the Pandora a ‘quality’ facelift. Ugly 1970s partitions and additions were destroyed in the fire and, with its Grade II listing, the Pandora could only be restored with traditional materials and building methods.
In accordance with current building regulations, the building was completely re-thatched and the chimneys re-built so that the all-important log fires could ensure a warm welcome for customers again.
The first floor dining room has been transformed and is now a stunning vaulted room with traditionally pegged green oak beams. The green oak is beautiful – traditional and yet contemporary, while a new glass screen at the top of the staircase provides a light and spacious addition to the room.
John Milan and Steve Bellman, who have been at the helm of the Pandora since 1999 were determined that the Pandora’s history was faithfully recorded. Two windowsills, scorched and blackened, have been retained and a small section of burnt beam has been carefully mounted on the ceiling alongside its modern replacement. These damaged sections serve as reminders of what has been lost. The fire of 2011 is just the latest chapter in the very long life of the Pandora Inn…