Constantine Cornwall

Piskey’s Hall and Trewardreva

Thirty members of the Constantine History Group participated in the August evening visit to two locations in the parish. The first stop was Piskey’s Hall (a corruption of the Cornish Parc-an-Pacoes – “the fattening field”). Fortunately, the farmer, John Olds, had removed the bull in preparation for our visit, otherwise several members would not have entered! Bridget Olds explained that the fogou is at least 2000 years old and that Iron Age remains have been found in the entrance and there may have been a settlement in close proximity. The purpose of fogous is unknown but they may have been associated with pagan rights, shelters or birthing chambers. Experts have visited the site on the Solstice to see if there is a relationship to the seasons but results were inconclusive. Those members who entered were impressed by the quality of the walling and the size of the capstones. The fluorescent lichen glowing in the poor light was also of interest.

On leaving the field, members entered the drive of Trewardreva and met with James and Rebecca Fox. James provided a history of the site and the house before their impressive home and gardens were explored. Trewardreva means “house in the middle of hut circles”, therefore its very early origin may well be linked to the fogou. Axe heads have been found at the mill and in fields belonging to the house, a further indication of early occupation. In the Domesday Book the property was part of the Manor of Tucoys. Later the property became the Manor of Polwheveral. Thomas Rise, the steward of the manor, built the core of the present house between 1590 and 1600. The house was built in the shape of an E, which represented Elizabeth 1st. Thomas’ coat of arms can still be seen above the original front porch. The property was subsequently owned by Thomas Trewen of Sancreed, Rise’s son in law. This was the beginning of six generations of Trewens at Trewardreva.

In 1719 Thomas and Alice had the building finished in fine cut granite, changed the windows and built the coach house, and thus produced a “delightful early 18th century home”. In 1819 the last Trewen moved to Taunton and his daughter married Charles Scott, a barrister; they now became the occupants. The Scotts had ten children and Charles’ ghost is said to hunt with hounds on Brill Hill. Nobody owned up to having seen this! Financial difficulties led to the eldest son selling the property in 1855. Sold in lots at an auction at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, the house and 50 acres was bought by the Hearle family, who set about removing the west wing and thus destroying the symmetry of the house. By the 1930s the house was in a very poor shape and was bought by Romney Fox, a timber merchant, who set about renovating the property.

Members were impressed with the panelled rooms, the paintings of members of the Fox family and were enthralled by the quality of the plasterwork in the stairway and drawing room. Such is the quality that the work may have been undertaken by Italian plasterers. The group finally explored the gardens which are contained inside a wall dating from Elizabethan times. Geoff Roberts thanked Bridget Olds for her guided tour of the fogou and thanked James and Rebecca Fox for their hospitality and sharing the history and beauty of their home. The group will meet next on Friday, 19th September at 19.15 in the Constantine WI Hall when Steph Haxton will be speaking about “A Lady with Letters“.

Don Garman