Friday, 11 January 2013

Tremough Estate Resource List

The Archive and Special Collections Service sometimes get enquiries asking about information on the history of the Tremough Campus. Until recently, due to the fact there is minimal information within the service collections, people have been directed to other local repositories, without any real knowledge of what resources may be there. Therefore, it was decided that a resource list should be compiled to show what sources exist and where they can be found.

Consequently, over the last couple of months, various local organisations and archives were contacted to find out what material they had relevant to the estate. This involved visits to The Royal Polytechnic Society History Group and Cornwall Records Office, as well as assistance from a number of other local organisations such as The Cornish Studies Library, Penryn Museum and The Royal Cornwall Museum. Newpaper articles, archaeological reports, books, images and maps were just some of the records found which helped to tell us something about the inhabitants of Tremough House. One such man was Benjamin Cloak, whose uncle was Benjamin Sampson, owner of Kennal Vale Gunpowder Company. When Sampson died, Cloak was the main beneficiary with the proviso that he would change his name to Sampson. Consequently, he became a very wealthy man and some time later bought Tremough.

(C) Archives & Special Collections Service
It would seem that Sampson was not the most financially able of individuals and relied heavily on his attorney, William Shilson; so much so that when Sampson died without an heir, Shilson inherited the estate. Unsurprisingly, the will was challenged and so Shilson did not take possession until 6 years after Sampson's death. Interestingly, Shilson already had ties to the Penryn area and Tremough having attended the Belle Vue Academy as a young man. (1) This academy opened at Tremough on the 21st January 1799 with the intention of educating 25 young gentlemen ' the most useful branches of Classical and Mathematical Knowledge..' for the grand old sum of 25 guineas per annum. (2) By the time Shilson enrolled it had relocated within the town, but Tremough as an educational establishment is a theme which has reverberated throughout its history.

William was a very active man involved with many local organisations and groups, particularly within horticultural circles. He had been a patron and president of The Royal Cornwall Infirmary, he was on the board of Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway, member of the St. Austell Cottage Garden Society, Perran-Wharf Horticultural Society, and Royal Cornwall Agricultural Society to name a few. It is unsurprising that it was during Shilson's ownership of Tremough that the estate gained its reputation for rhododendrons under the expertise of the gardener at the time, Richard Gill. Indeed, Rhododendrons from Tremough even found themselves donated and relocated to Kew Gardens. Unfortunately, Shilson died in 1875, only 5 years after he took over the estate leaving Ann, his wife, who remained at Tremough until her death in 1896. They are both buried in Mabe Parish Church graveyard.

Certainly, this exercise has shown the power of archives to contribute towards our perception and understanding of place. A knowledge of the history and development of a site and those who have lived and worked there facilitates the process of place making and our understanding of sense of place.

(1) Margaret Grose & Shiona King, Tremough, Penryn: The Historic Estate, (Truro, M.H. Grose & G.M. Grose, 2003)
(2)Classified ads . Sun (London, England), Wednesday, January 2, 1799; Issue 1959
British Newspapers 1600-1900, [Accessed 20th Dec 2012]

1 comment:

  1. ust great here, keep sharing! I will look out more from that.