Portledge, a splendid example of 17th century architecture, is placed in a setting of great beauty and surrounded by a park noted for its loveliness. Parts of the house date back to earlier years, and the doorway which led into the old Great Hall has remained untouched since it was built about 1234. The 13th century arch of the chapel still stands and the Brew House is reminiscent of the days when hops were grown extensively on the estate. The old Great Hall has lost its Minstrel Gallery, which was moved over 100 years ago to Alwington Church, a lovely 15th century church containing many monuments to the Coffin family. The dining-room retains a beautifully plastered ceiling which contains a fine example of heraldry. The courtyard was roofed in and made into a new hall in the middle of the 18th century. There are many pieces of fine old furniture, ancestral pieces, carved stone coats of arms ,Spanish armour and Armada guns; priceless panelling and heavily studded doors There is also a belfry and a Spanish armada courtyard. It is also a constant reminder that in their day such famous men as Raleigh, Grenville and Sidney were visitors to Portledge.
The Coffin family is of Norman origin, the elder branch living at Coutitout near Falaise, Calvados at the time of the Conquest. It is believed that Richard was the first of the family to come to England with William the Conqueror and was granted land around Portledge about 1086. From then until 1766 there was nearly always a Coffin at Portledge. The charter granting Free Warren over all the manor of Alwington, given to Sir Richard Coffin in 1454 is still in the possession of the family. The connection between the Pine and the Coffin families began with the marriage of Edward Pine and Dorothy Coffin at Alwington Church in 1671 .Their grandson ,Rev John Pine inherited the estate and by Act of Parliament in 1797 assumed the name and arms of Coffin.The law at the time discriminated against females who were banned from inheriting property. In order not to lose the Coffin name off the inheritance it was decided to join the names as all the property had to go to the Reverend Pine. In 1642 the Coffin family went to the New World so all the family members from there are still called Coffin.
Should anyone be interested in further information regarding the family ,I have published two books on the subject
The Boer War diary of John Edward Pine- Coffin- One Man’s Boer war
and Coffin family letters 1600-2002. Both books are available from Walter Henry’s Bookshop making good presents at £15 each., or your local library.
Susan Pine -Coffin
The house is no longer owned by the Pine -Coffins and is now in private hands- no part of the house or grounds is open to the public.