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Sorry, but they are Cornelius

Hazel Harradence


Having now had time to do more research into the buildings in Newquay, many of those we thought were Trevail's have now been credited to Alfred Cornelius.

GH Clemens house on Mount Wise, now Penberthy Residential Home, did not have the plans approved until November 1905.

Captain Fenwick's house in Edgcumbe Gardens was not approved until March 1907.

Thurstan Collins house, now Gluvian Park Hotel, was approved in Jan 1908.

A plan of the 'new road’, which later became Edgcumbe Gardens was drawn up by Newquay Town Surveyor and signed by Robert Edgcumbe on 1st December 1904. At this time the area was not even marked out in plots.

The house on the corner of Narrowcliffe and Edgcumbe Avenue later the Crigga Hotel was also on our list, but not shown on the map mentioned above in 1904.

Miss Merrick's bungalow in Edgcumbe Avenue did not have planning permission until March 1907 and the bungalow of AH Jenkins next door at number 70 was not approved until October that year.

Mr Stephens pair of houses at Porth Way was not built until 1908 and Edgcumbe House in Holywell Road for the Misses Lomax was not designed until 1913 according to correspondence between Cornelius and GR Card, a Newquay builder, who seem to have worked together on several of these buildings.

Miss Bartleet also had a house built by the two men, although I have not yet found out where, and the correspondence for that is dated 1912.

The Harbour Hotel was built on the site of a pilchard cellar and it is possible that Trevail did the initial survey, but a Frith photograph of 1904 shows no building. The plans were turned down in September 1905, although later approved with alterations.

A bungalow for John James, possibly one I found in St Thomas Road, was not built until 1930 - the lady living there showed me her deeds!

In the same bundle of plans was a sketch for a small chapel, which has been identified as Trencreek, just outside Newquay. Built in 1906 it closed sometime in the 1960s and was later demolished.

Correspondence suggests that Cornelius did all the design work on all these.

The misunderstanding about these buildings arose when all the plans were listed at the Cornwall Record Office as being Trevail's work, when in fact some of the bundles of plans contained work by Cornelius. I hope that all buildings have now been credited to the correct architect.


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Our Future Historians

Hazel Harradence

I was delighted to be asked by Luxulyan School to talk to the children about Silvanus Trevail in July 2005 as part of their history project. Their subject was 'Local Heroes' and the teachers had chosen Joseph Austin Treffry, William O'Brien, Joseph Polsue and Silvanus Trevail.

When I arrived at the school the children were putting the finishing touches to some drawings they had started that morning after a visit to Luxulyan Church to see the Trevail Memorial Cross and the stained glass window behind the altar.

My brief was to tell them why I had been attracted to Trevail in the first instance, and then to talk about some of the buildings he had done.

Why did I start? A very good question. I am not really sure myself. The first seeds were sown when I joined a WEA course in the local Sunday school room to learn about the village of Luxulyan. I had not long moved to Cornwall and this sort of course seemed a good way to get to know some of the history of the place and to find my way around.

We were told of four important Luxulyan men - William O'Brien, Walter Hicks, Joseph Polsue and Silvanus Trevail. A brief history was given on each man, together with his achievements, and then, more or less as an aside, the information that some of Trevail's plans were at the record office in Truro.

Visiting there for another purpose I casually glanced at the catalogue listing of his plans and found there were over 600 bundles. The buildings listed covered most of Cornwall and beyond so I ordered a few to look at, copied some of the details, went to various villages to see the buildings and took it from there.

It was difficult to convey that to a group of 5-10 year olds, but when I started to list the quantity of buildings that Trevail was responsible for then they sat up and began to take note and to ask questions.

We had a lively session and I hope that some of what they learned remains until they reach adulthood and learn to appreciate not only Trevail's buildings in the County, but all the others they have grown up with.

If they do not, then what will the future hold for many of these structures?                             


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September Motor Tour

Hazel Harradence

Not a very auspicious start to the day when I woke to find the whole of the clay country covered in thick mist. However, everyone eventually found his or her way to Nanpean and the Church of St George the Martyr. As the parish church was more than three miles away at St Dennis, the Rev AR Taylor built the mission church for the local people. The Hon GM Fortescue of Boconnoc gave the land and a considerable sum of money and the arcades and piers from the old church of St Dennis had been left in a field and these were used to build the arcade separating the nave from the aisle in the new church in 1878.

  Nanpean -  Church of St George the Martyr

The bell turret was originally built over the arcade, but when an organ was later installed the bell was moved. All the interior furnishings were designed by Trevail, and remain today, cared for by a small congregation. They have very few records about the history of the church; it was probably not considered necessary for a mission church.  The walls of the nave and apsidal chancel were built of granite rubble with cut granite lintels and sills. The cemetery is now the responsibility of the parish council and has won several awards for the way it is looked after. The churchyard also contains the War Memorial to the village men and is in the form of a Celtic cross, very similar to the Trevail memorial in Luxulyan.              

Leaving Nanpean in the mist we moved on to the Churchtown school of St Stephens. Several extensions have been made over the years to the old National School and it was a little difficult to decide which were Trevail’s 1877 classrooms. Fortunately an elderly resident of the village walked through the playground, and she was able to tell us that the right hand portion was the older building. This too has been extended, but slightly differing rooflines enabled us to pick out the various sections. The windows, hood moulds and sills as well as the walling have been well matched to the original, giving a wide building with many interesting features. A new school was built in 1984 and the old buildings are now used for offices and light industry.  

High Street School

After lunch we moved off in convoy for High Street School, which, confusingly, according to the road signs, is in Lanjeth. Trevail first designed an infant’s school here, which opened in March 1878 with 44 children. By July 1891 it had been decided to extend the building to take older children, so Trevail added new cloakrooms to the existing building and built a new wing on the west side for a mixed school. The building was closed as a school in 1963 and is now a family home.

Our third school was also commissioned by the St Stephen School Board, at Coombe, a small hamlet south of St Stephen’s village, reached by country lanes. Opened in 1878 it contained only one room, 24ft 6” by 18ft, with a gallery that took up about one quarter of the space. There was a porch with separate entrances for boys and girls. Tucked away behind shrubs and an enormous Gunnera, the little building is now a private dwelling.  

Our final call of the day was Trenowth, to the farm where Robert (later Sir Robert) Harvey had a new house and outbuildings erected for the home farm to his holiday home, Trenowth House, in 1890. The farmhouse has the initials RH over the door and the date, 1890. It is a square double fronted house of rubble with white brick dressings and granite quoins. The white wood window frames are original, now showing signs of wear, but the front porch has been covered with a modern infill. It is still used as a farmhouse, the family of llamas in the field being a novelty.

Grampound Road - Trenoweth farm buildings


By now the weather had improved so that it was a pleasure to be outside, visiting the farm buildings, all of which have been turned into dwellings over a period of about fifteen years by Peter Fowler. Extra openings had been made during the farming era and Peter rebuilt these where necessary to serve housing needs and to make the buildings appear more symmetrical. We were made to feel very welcome, Peter showed us around the buildings, explaining the alterations, the problems he had encountered, comparing the buildings to the copies of plans from the Record Office. The original red bricks used for dressings and lintels could not be matched exactly but he was able to blend in the newer ones to great effect. A fitting end to an informative day.                        


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Ronald Perry & Hazel Harradence

Robert (later Sir Robert) Harvey was at this time (1890) a great admirer of Trevail’s buccaneering spirit. Sailing to South America as a young man, Harvey had made a vast fortune in Chilean nitrates, returning to become a prominent industrialist and High Sheriff of both Cornwall and Devon, with homes in Cornwall, Devon and London. In 1894 he had proposed a Testimonial Committee to reward Trevail’s ‘indomitable pluck and energies’ in almost single-handedly thwarting the mighty Great Western Railways’ plans to stop a railway line to North Cornwall, and he chaired the committee that raised a handsome sum. Harvey was a hard taskmaster and after investing heavily in Trevail’s King Arthur’s Castle Hotel, he became disgruntled at its lack of profitability and, Trevail complained, treated him ‘like an office boy’.

In his private life Harvey was a family man. His wife was of Spanish origin; they married in 1881. Their first child, Lilita was born in 1883 and Robert Godefroy, known as Tito, was born about a year later. Daughter Alida, born 1884, son Emile born 1886, Alfred 1891 and Robert 1896, made up his family. From an early age the children were accustomed to spending months at a time in English seaside resorts; whilst trips abroad covered most European countries. Dundridge House, near Harberton in Devon and Trenowth House in Cornwall were holiday homes and when in residence they would often invite other families with children to stay. 

At Dundridge the house had a chapel where a priest from Buckfast Abbey would come for Mass. In 1895 following a trip abroad, Tito went back to school with a slight cold. Within three weeks he died of pneumonia and was buried in Harberton churchyard. There is a memorial window in his name. Robert Harvey wrote the story of his short life and published it ‘for private circulation only’. He presented a copy to Silvanus inscribed ‘To my old Friend’.

In July 1900 Mr & Mrs Harvey went to the Paris Exhibition; Trevail was there as an invited guest of the French Republic. Mrs Harvey had been unwell since the beginning of that year and died of cancer in 1901, shortly after hearing that her husband had been awarded a Knighthood.

Son Alfred, by now aged 10, was away at school, but having been unwell was taken out of school to recuperate in Hastings with his old governess. What they did not discover until later was that another little boy at the hotel was suffering from diphtheria. In his weakened state Alfred had no resistance and died in March 1902.

Both Alfred and his mother were interred in the family tomb in Harberton churchyard and memorial windows to each of them put in the church. Cots at Great Ormond Street Children’s’ Hospital and Totnes Cottage Hospital were endowed in Alfred’s name. The children’s governess Helene Heldt wrote the story of the children and their mother, which Robert Harvey had printed in 1903. One copy was inscribed ‘To my old friend Silvanus Trevail from Robert Harvey 3 May 1903’.     


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Richard Foster Edward-Collins

Hazel Harradence

The Society has learned with deep regret of the death of one of its most valued members, who died shortly after Christmas. Dick of course made an enormous contribution to Cornwall’s holiday industry both as hotelier and Chairman of various tourist bodies but we in the Society will miss him for his forthright opinions at our meetings. 

The resurrection of the Great Western Hotel, Newquay, originally designed by Silvanus Trevail, was among his many achievements.

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Summer walk in St Ives

Ann Perry

On a rather dull June evening the group met outside the former Stennack School in St Ives to admire a building that was praised by Sir Charles Reed, MP for St Ives and Chairman of the London School Board in the 1890s: ‘not a more convenient or better designed Board School existed in all London’. Trevail produced plans for the new school for 200 boys, 200 girls and 300 infants in 1878, to be constructed of dressed granite, with granite ashlar dressings and a Welsh slate roof with bands of fish scale slates, coursed ridge tiles and small terra cotta finials. The plans must have impressed the authorities in London as he was invited by the Royal Commission to submit them for consideration to be included in an exhibition abroad and they were then displayed in the Paris Exhibition (Fine Arts Section) 1878 and International Exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Unfortunately a serious fire at the Exhibition Pavilion in Sydney resulted in the loss of all details of the exhibition.

St Ives School Board then proposed building two schools to serve different areas in St Ives but eventually in April 1879 they agreed to go ahead with Trevail’s plans for a single school and adjoining master’s house, with 4 bedrooms, and borrowed £6,453.10s 0d to pay for it. In January 1880 Trevail presented his bill for £379 2s 6d commission and the following January he invited the Board Clerk, contractors and other members to a dinner to celebrate the opening of the school. It must have been a popular school as there were 117 applications for the post of Master/Mistress and Infant Mistress.

Unfortunately by 1984 the school building was no longer required by the Education Committee and it was due to be demolished, but a campaign by the people of St Ives saved it. Now operating as a medical centre, it has been doubled in size by the addition of a new wing to the rear of the building, which has not spoilt the overall appearance, and with well cared for surroundings the old school remains a pleasing part of St Ives.

  St Ives School 2.jpg

Walking down towards the next Trevail building, the Devon and Cornwall bank, we stopped at the corner to admire the St Ives Library — the ‘one that got away’. Originally designs were by James Hicks, the Redruth architect who was responsible for several Passmore Edwards buildings, including the library at Redruth. Hicks had produced plans for a number of different sites in the summer of 1895, but in November the building committee received a ‘suggestion’ from Passmore Edwards that ST should be allowed to present a rival set of drawings. Trevail lobbied Captain Harry and Edward (later Sir Edward) Hain, both powerful men in the area who served several terms as Mayor and for whom he had designed imposing residences, Treloyhan Manor for Hain and Morwenstow (now the Chy an Dour Hotel) for Captain Harry. Hicks remained the chosen architect, but when he died suddenly in January 1896 Trevail must have thought that the job was his, and he wrote to Captain Harry reminding him that he had designed ‘the best Board School in Cornwall’ and that he was ‘expecting something definite’ on the matter from Hain. No Trevail plans have been found, however, and in February the St Ives Committee received a letter from Passmore Edwards asking them to send details of the site to John Symons and Sons (from his home village of Blackwater) who both designed and built the library, which opened in 1897. Possibly Trevail had refused to build on the site, an awkward corner, for he warned Passmore Edwards, when discussing Launceston Library, not ‘to make the blunder of choosing the wrong site’ as at St Ives, which only had eleven feet of frontage.

Unfortunately the townspeople of St Ives failed to make full use of the library for its ostensible purpose. At the opening, Alderman Jenkyn asserted it would attract the young, who spent their time on street corners, while Councillor Faull feared that at first it would not used as much as it ought. How right he was, for municipal offices occupied part of it, band practice another, with the library facilities confined to just two rooms. St Ives was not alone in such poor use of the library and Passmore Edwards was later to confide in Trevail, ‘Had I known a few years since what I know now, I would have spent less in Cornwall and more on London’.

When we visited it, library was undergoing considerable renovation and had for years provided a home for the St Ives Archives, run by Janet Axten, which has moved to larger premises above the church rooms where we were to finish our tour.

We then stopped to look at the Devon and Cornwall Bank, (which became a branch of Lloyds) one of six that Trevail designed for the Company. Originally belonging to Harris, the draper, the bank bought the building in 1897. Trevail drew up plans for alterations to the ground floor of the three storey Georgian building, leaving the upper floors unchanged externally. The General Manager, GM Pridham from Plymouth proved to be a very demanding customer who took a detailed interest in every aspect of the construction. The St Ives Manager, J Square Paige, was equally demanding, complaining in a letter sent to Silvanus at 12.30pm that he had not yet had a reply to a wire sent earlier that day, and insisting on railings outside the bank as fishermen crowded the path talking and singing past 11 pm. As often happened the project was delayed because of Trevail’s lack of instruction to the builders. The ground floor of the building was faced in granite with curved tops to the windows and entrances and is little changed today.  

The tour finished very pleasantly at the St Ives Archive Study Centre, where Janet made us welcome, offered wine and coffee, and explained about the setting up and future of the archives. The material includes much interesting information about the tourist industry and hotels of the area, although the nearest Trevail hotel is at Carbis Bay. The archives provide an impressive example of what can be done by very hard-working and enthusiastic members.

Once again we have to thank Hazel for organising another very interesting, and enjoyable visit.            


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Restoration at Treventon

Felicity Penneycard

It was with great pleasure that we were able to welcome the Society back to Treventon, two years after our (rather damp!) buildings walk around St Columb Major in June 2003. We just hoped that members would see a little improvement since their previous visit!

The AGM took place in the billiard room – part of the extension works designed by Silvanus Trevail in 1879. Some members had the added honour of being able to sit on two pews ‘rescued’ earlier in the year from Mevagissey Cemetery Chapel, by the speedy action of Hazel and Ed Harradence with great help from Keith Whitmill of Restormel Council and Ian Morris of Jeffery’s. These pews are now ensconced permanently in the billiard room and were a great help in enabling members to ‘sit up straight’ and listen to all the business side of the meeting without falling asleep! We were particularly glad to welcome Mr & Mrs Duckworth of the old vicarage at Perranzabuloe and Mr & Mrs Ogilvy from Witherdon, Devon. After tea there were informal tours of the house and garden.

As previously mentioned in Ann Perry’s excellent write up of the St Columb Major walk, the Whitford family built Treventon in 1860 (architect unknown) then commissioned Trevail in 1879 to design extensions. Business was obviously going well, because this consisted of two staff bedrooms, a scullery and pantry, a billiard room and loggia leading to the latter. From the architectural plans and elevations we have from this time there were ideas for cellars underneath the billiard room and scullery as well as much more elaborate ‘stained glass’ window treatment for both the billiard room and the loggia. As with any restoration we spent a lot of time ‘supposing’! Did they not have quite enough money for all this? When they started to excavate for the cellars – extremely close to the existing very deep old well – did they find things a little damp? Another interesting thing that we found when investigating a damp corner was that the foundations under the billiard room were much older and very substantial. Did they belong to earlier farm buildings?

We do not have any drawings of the bay window extensions to the east elevation of the house. Did Mrs Whitford demand these instead of the stained glass in the billiard room? The detailing certainly looks like that of Trevail. This is also true of the stained glass (removed by the previous owners) in what became the second bathroom. There are no drawings for this either, but it was similar.

There are so many questions that we cannot really answer, so our aim is to restore as far as we can the feel and spirit of the house, based on the knowledge we glean on the way, and hope that we do not make too many mistakes.

Luckily we have a good team to help us. When I visited the Cornwall Record Office initially – without an appointment – I was put in touch with Hazel Harradence by the County Archivist and the rest is history, as they say……. Hugh Lander, architectural historian and journalist, whose book on restoration of old buildings everyone owning an old building should be made to read, has been a great help, both on basic and detailed information. Neil Moody, our builder, and a plumber by trade (great for all this lead roofing) is doing a great job with everything – from re-laying the slate floors in the scullery and back hall (originally the kitchen in 1860) to unblocking the chimneys and discovering the original routes of the drains! Our electrician Jim Botley, Adrian Brown and John Roberts, the brilliant local joiner, are all used to our restorative ways and keen ‘to get it right’ and give us excellent results.

When we moved in July 2001, our first aim was to ‘undivide’ the house from two dwellings into one again. This was relatively easy, involving removing two walls that had been erected by the previous owners. The next main work was to restore the 1879 scullery/kitchen and remove the 1990s kitchen units (sold to the Liberal Club up the hill) from the 19C study so that it could revert to its previous use. 

Along the way, between 1920 and 1960, this was also a Doctor’s surgery. We assume too that this was when the very well matched lavatory extension was built to the left of the front door!

After all our work was completed in Spring 2004, our next aim was to sort out the drains, driveway and paths around the house, reducing the levels to the correct height, below the air bricks, and removing a plethora of concrete material. September 2004 was the date agreed with the builder. The weather dictated otherwise. Eventually in July 2005, after the AGM, this work was implemented and now we look much more like the ‘old’ photographs; a uniform use of material which is giving us much pleasure. This is especially so as it is coupled with a pair of magnificent gates – donated by my mother. They were designed by Hugh Lander and built by John Roberts, based on the design detailing of Silvanus Trevail – we hope that we have got it right. Come to see for yourselves!

Now, what is left for us to do? Apart from the garden which would include the restoration of the original fruit glasshouse of which we have evidence ‘on the ground’ in the vegetable garden, there is still a little to do.

We are gradually checking and restoring the lead roofs; we have the Trevail plan of the billiard room, for which Neil Moody is extremely grateful! The rest of the house has to be decorated – outside (not too difficult) and inside – how was it decorated originally? We have evidence of how it could have been done by Trevail himself and other Gothic architects of the time. Unfortunately, although paint scrapings revealed the kitchen and scullery colours (just like Tyntesfield, we were pleased to see on our visit there, after we had completed the work), subsequent decorating in the main hall of the house seems to have annihilated any original wallpapers, although there is a lot of evidence of ‘lettuce green’ paint in the hall and of gold leaf on the panelling in the bay windows (slightly alarming for the budget!) Of light fittings I found a very nice copper ceiling rose in the garden last year. Fireplaces – we know the size of the hearth footprints as they are still there, but where did the fire surrounds go? Maws & Co Puginesque tiles have been found in the garden as well.

And so the project goes on! We understand there is none of the Whitfield family left, but did their photograph albums survive? Would they not have been proud of their achievement and have photographed their home inside and out? What of the three doctor’s families who lived in the house from the 1920s to the 1960s - did they take photographs? They most probably took out the fireplaces and took off the chimneys! We have great information from Dot Roberts, who knew Treventon as a guesthouse from 1960 to 1988, but we still need those missing links – not just from a practical point, but more importantly, so that we can appreciate more fully the history of our home and the lives of the families who made it what it is today.

Maybe in a few years time another AGM will be held here? Peter has already typed out our project list for 2006!                   

St Columb, Treventon 1 - outside

Basically the outside of Treventon has changed little since it was built in 1860, but note that the decorative ridge tiles are no more – their remains have been found in the garden. Also it is likely the chimneystacks were all reduced, except those belonging to the billiard room and the study. This would have happened probably in the 1970s. When were the bay windows added? Note the original curved lintels. Did Mrs Whitford request these additions in 1879?

  St Columb, Treventon 2

Garden Terraces. A lot of planting and the creation of the current built granite terraces took place between 1988 & 2001, so the grass terracing has disappeared. A lot less mowing!

  St Columb, Treventon 3.jpg


Lost! Removed between 1988 & 2001, the stained glass windows and frames to the second bathroom over the back porch. Between the 1920s and 1960 it was the only bathroom, but what was its original use? Built after the extension (on right) in 1879, was it a little conservatory?

  St Columb, Treventon, billiard room

The billiard room is as it was when built in 1879, but where and when did the billiard table go? Did the built-in observation seat have leather upholstery as shown on the architect’s drawings? What happened to the horizontal lantern blinds, the central light and the bell pull? Their brass fittings are still in place.


** See the garden at Treventon on Sunday 28th May 2006, 2 – 6pm, when Felicity and Peter are ‘open’ for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.  


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