Message in a bottle…

…at the time of the Covid-19 Pandemic

“a stark reminder that we, the human race, are not invincible and we cannot afford complacency in our existence”

Messages have been tucked into bottles and shipped on mysterious voyages at least since 310 B.C., when Greek philosopher Theophrastus employed the tactic to test his theory that the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Ocean currents aside there are many motives to noting down one’s thoughts, slipping it into a watertight bottle and sending it off on a seafaring adventure. For many years’ romantic gestures, sad farewells and rescue pleas have been discovered washed up on our shores.

A ‘message in a bottle’ at this time seems to be quite a poignant and important task to carry out. We felt it would be an opportunity to write down some of our thoughts about our personal experiences during the Coronavirus Lockdown and to create a piece of history for someone to discover in years to come. Read on to find out where our ‘message in bottle’ is hidden waiting to be discovered…

A copy of our ‘message in a bottle’

Today’s date: Sunday 31st May 2020

This message has been written by the Coryton Family and the team of staff at Pentillie Castle & Estate in Cornwall (UK) during a worldwide pandemic.

A virus known as ‘Coronavirus’ or ‘Covid-19’ has spread throughout the world killing over 371,000 people at the time of writing. The United Kingdom alone has seen over 38,000 deaths and over 270,000 cases of the disease have so far been recorded in this country alone. First detected in China it has now infected people in 185 countries.

On Monday 23rd March 2020 the government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, called for the country to go into ‘lockdown’. A policy of ‘social distancing’ was introduced to ensure anyone leaving their house was to adhere to a 2-metre distancing rule from any other person. The message was clear though ‘Stay Home, Protect Our NHS, Save Lives’.

The country has come to a standstill. The schools are closed, shops are closed, hotels are shut, sports matches are cancelled, businesses are shut, public spaces including national parks are closed, weddings are cancelled, funerals are allowed with only 4 family members present, all non-essential travel is prohibited and people have been asked to ‘stay at home’. You are only allowed to leave the house for food and for exercise but only once per day. Fines of up to £1,000 are issued if the lockdown rules are broken.

This time has brought about a great deal of uncertainty, a time of deep reflection and of disbelief that in this day of age something can take so many lives and bring the country to a standstill. There’s a huge sense of ‘we are all in this together’ but at the same time we have never been so far apart. Every Thursday at 8pm the nation comes together for the ‘NHS clap’. We stand on our doorsteps armed with saucepans and wooden spoons to ‘clap’ our NHS, showing our support and immeasurable gratitude. It’s a time of great sadness for many, a time of unimaginable loneliness for some and a stark reminder that we, the human race, are not invincible and we cannot afford complacency in our existence.

It has been said that Coronavirus will change the world permanently of which we have little doubt. For now, though we are trying to minimise the damage and await our next instruction from the government.

Pentillie Castle remains closed at this time. The staff are all ‘furloughed’, a government scheme to try and protect the economy of the country, and the Coryton Family (of whom own the estate) have to sit tight as Pentillie notches up another remarkable story in its history.

Covid-19 Lockdown thoughts from the Pentillie team;

Carly Fordy, Marketing Executive

“Unlike many other parts of the UK we are in more of a bubble here in Cornwall, and have less cases of COVID19 than elsewhere. We are incredibly lucky to have space to roam, luscious green countryside and the weather has been the hottest spring I have ever known! Is it because there has been less pollution? Whilst many others have struggled through the lockdown I feel selfish to say for our family this time together has been priceless. A time we will never get together again without the pressures of normal everyday juggling. No need to make decisions, nothing else to concentrate on but each other (oh and what we going to have for dinner!) and making sure we are all happy, smiling and having fun together. I have definitely eaten too much and drank far too much alcohol… but never mind. One thing this has taught me is how precious time is and going into our ‘new’ normal way of life it is not something I will forget for a very long time”

Stephen Waite, House Manager

“2020 year of Lockdown, what have I discovered about myself, I’m a baker, I’m a gardener, I’m a carpenter, I’m a nature photographer, but mostly I’m a survivor and the upmost important thing is family of course!!”

Jan Clayton, Housekeeping Team

“This has been a scary and life changing time, especially in times of 2020, not being able to care for my grandchildren as I have done for the last 13 years, and just spending so much time alone locked down”

Regan Bush, Estate Sales Manager

“If I had read about this time in a book (or message in a bottle!) I would not have believed it. To tell our children when they are older that there was once a time when there was a virus so serious that we weren’t allowed to leave the house, not allowed to go out in your car, schools were shut and that thousands of people died will be quite some tale. I have spent so much of my lockdown time feeling quite philosophical and also strangely privileged to have experienced such a surreal time. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend my time watching my two little boys grow and develop, time I would have otherwise missed due to ‘normal life’ getting in the way. It’s been a time of such uncertainty and great loss, the one’s able to talk about it in the future are the lucky ones, and I have no doubt that won’t be taken for granted”

Linda Wheeler, House Supervisor

“My message/thoughts would be having to deal with the loneliness, more so when you are on your own, knowing there is no one to talk to in the middle of the night. Hoping that people will be kinder to each other and realise that the best things in life are free…caring, hugging and being hugged”

Christina ‘Chrissie’ Dawe, Wedding Coordinator

“2020 has been like no other. The word unprecedented has been used to describe the coronavirus pandemic more than any other word. Every news story, blog, press conference and news report speaks of ‘unprecedented’. Many have unleashed their streak for survival and gone into baking overdrive. Then there are the drinkers. Alcohol shouldn’t be the answer but as a tension buster it has proved highly reliable with self-consolidation ‘spirits’.

This was the first year that I can remember not one prank being pulled on April Fool’s Day. It was too serious a situation to even think about comedy. Easter didn’t feel like Easter. The spark of enjoying chocolate Easter Eggs was quite literally, swallowed in gluttony and self-wallowing.

We have had two lock down bank holidays and while the first was adhered to closely the second seemed to have let astringencies slip as boredom overtakes vigilance.

There is a government message that has actually managed to filter through that ‘we are all in this together’. The prospect of returning to work and seeing my family in person is something I long for.

It has been an impossible task balancing the health of the nation with the economy. The saying money doesn’t buy you happiness has never been truer. I wonder, if society will continue the camaraderie or if arrogance will creep back alongside normality. I guess only time will tell.  

Andrew & Bianca Quick, Kitchen Gardener & Pentillie Tenants

“For me, this time has 2 sides. Firstly, it has given me a chance to reflect positively on retirement in approx 2 years. Secondly, I miss not being able to have my grandchildren stay over & help at our allotments” Andrew

“For me, this has given me a chance to re-evaluate everything and show me what really is important and how much we all need each other. Also, it has enabled me to take a step back, relax and create” Bianca

Karen Mahoney, Housekeeping Team

“It’s hard to sum up in a couple of sentences. Pentillie were kind enough to furlough me from the housekeeping job I enjoy. Feelings of uncertainty, people reaching out, learning life is precious and fragile, overwhelmed by how communities have united. Grateful that we are healthy but emotional thinking about how devastating a little virus can be”

Richard & Christine – Tenants

“You couldn’t have made this up. It’s like a scary bad dream, but hopefully we will wake up to realise what is really important in life. Firstly ,our families around the country, who thankfully are all well, then the importance of looking out for our fellow human beings and having time to appreciate our surroundings.

For twenty-five years now we have watched Pentillie grow and flourish and we are very thankful of where we are”

Dan & Louise Liddle, Pentillie Gamekeeper & his wife to be

“Dan has been able to be business as usual working everyday on the estate. Freddie (our son) and I are loving lockdown with all the space and in an amazing spot! Freddie is going to have a strange first birthday though but hopefully we will still make it a good one” 

Sammie Coryton, Custodian of Pentillie

“The Coronavirus pandemic came 12.5 years after we, the Coryton’s, inherited Pentillie. Those 12.5 years have passed in a blur…from renovation and restoration of the private but tired home, into a thriving wedding and events business employing 25 staff! We seem to have got busier as the years have gone by – adding events like Defender Day and PenGrillie to the annual calendar and watching guests regularly enjoy afternoon teas on the terrace as well as B & B guests.

While the pandemic has brought illness, fear, sadness and loneliness to so many, it has also given us as a family the most unique and extraordinary opportunity to stop, to reflect, to re-evaluate. Not only have we been blessed with space – the gardens, the river and the fields but also time – to sit on the quay and on the terrace ourselves and reflect on the journey so far…And to enjoy time with our growing family before we blink and have missed them. For the time and the space, we will always be grateful”  

Ted Coryton, Patriarch

“Corona the beer gives goodness and cheer

Corona the virus fills us with fear

We viewed it in jest, until it came west

So, then we locked down, and hoped for the best

We sat in the sunshine but prayed for some rain

And longed for the day we could open again”



So on Sunday 31st May 2020 we slipped this message into a bottle and rather than sending it off on a voyage down the River Tamar we thought it far more ethically responsible to bury it. We decided it needed to be under the watchful eye of Sir Jimmy Tillie so where else could be better than… to find out where you will need to watch our video… it’s ‘plane’ for all to see!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our thoughts and experiences of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s certainly been an interesting time. To learn more about the history of the Pentillie Estate please enjoy our ‘potted history’ tale…and of course you can always come and see for yourself!

Please contact the us on 01579 350044 or email to find out about ways you can currently visit the Estate.



Ted and Sarah inherited the estate from Ted’s cousin Jeffery in September 2007.

At a family gathering at Christmas 2007 it was decided to try and keep the estate, pay off the inheritance tax and from necessity open the castle to guests and for weddings, events and private celebrations.

When the tax was paid in February 2017 Ted passed the estate down a generation to eldest daughter Sammie and her Megilley family of Marc, Charlie and Hector who are now the custodians of Pentillie.

Credit: Music used in video, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. The image used above is actually an image of the world’s oldest message in a bottle to date. It was determined that the message was dated June 12, 1886. That means it is 131 years and 223 days old when it was found. Read more…

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