One of Cornwall’s most awe-inspiring hidden buildings is to go on the market as a “totally remarkable once-in-a-lifetime restoration opportunity”. The sale of the ruins of a Queen Anne manor house three miles east of Truro has been preliminary announced.
Upmarket estate agents Lillicrap Chilcott announced the impending sale of Trehane House this week. The marketing blurb reads: “An exceptional 5-acre site in a magical and private setting, with the ruins of a Grade II Listed Queen Anne manor house and detailed planning consent for its reconstruction to create what would be one of Cornwall’s finest country houses. An unrivalled and unrepeatable opportunity in a blissful yet highly convenient location.”
Offers are in excess of £600,000 for the house and land. Trehane Manor, which stands on private property near Probus and Tresillian, was left to decay after a fire in 1946 but could now rise like a phoenix from the ashes. At one time its gardens were some of the best in Cornwall following 200 years of cultivation.
The history of the Trehane estate goes back to the 13th century and is mentioned in Tudor times when Sir John Trehane appears on the list of soldiers who would have fought in the event of the Armada landing. In 1700 the then owner John Williams set about building a new house for his wife and family, which was completed three years later.
Ownership of the house passed through the family line and in 1861 ended up in the hands of Captain William Stackhouse Church Pinwill, who was a serving officer in the Indian Army and didn’t return to Trehane until 1868. Capt Pinwill had a keen interest in natural history and was thankful to his brother-in-law, the Archdeacon of Bombay, for sending plants to Cornwall for Trehane’s gardens.
In her fascinating book, Vanished Houses of Cornwall, Rosemary Lauder writes that in his day Pinwill was considered one of the Duchy’s foremost gardeners. An index that he compiled listed 4,500 plants and in 1914 he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society. Trehane was renowned for its rare species, many grown for the first time in this country.
Trehane was requisitioned just before the Second World War and Austrian Jews fleeing the Nazis stayed in the house in temporary huts in the grounds – one of which has been restored by the property’s current owners. US servicemen were later based on the estate in preparation for the D Day landings in June 1944.
A Major Anthony Deakin owned the property next and during renovations in 1946 a plumber unknowingly set fire to the inside attic. The fire rapidly took hold and the whole roof and floors were destroyed. Firefighters could only save most of the walls and two of the four chimneys
The house was bought in 1962 by David Trehane, who, remarkably, had no connection to the estate despite his surname. The ruin was beyond rescue but Mr Trehane did all he could to ensure the gardens were of a high standard, before selling the property to the current owners.
There is no public access to Trehane. The ruins are said to be unstable and highly dangerous. A listing by Historic England states: “Gutted by fire in 1946. Roofless. Walls survive. Red brick in English and Flemish bonds and Pentewan stone dressings. Originally double depth plan with central courtyard. 2 storeys. 7-window fronts to north, south and east.
“Principal east front has ovolo moulded plinth, central doorway, flat Pentewan stone arches to window openings without frames. Moulded Pentewan stone sills and plain band at first floor level. 4 giant brick pilasters. 1 original sash window survives at rear with thick ovolo moulded glazing bars. 2 axial walls survive with tall brick stacks. Including contemporary brick wall adjoining north east corner which forms north side of east garden. The brick courses are laid to slope of land which falls gently away on east side.”
The sale has sparked a bit of interest on social media, with writer Fiona Campbell-Howes tweeting: “‘Once in a lifetime restoration opportunity’ might be *somewhat* overstating it … but you do get a couple of chimneys…”