Trelowarren House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Trelowarren House


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Statutory Address:
Trelowarren House

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 72078 23841


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 2 September to reformat text to current standards

SW 72 SW 4/169




Great House with chapel. Possibly late Medieval core and some circa early C16 features possibly reused. Substantially rebuilt, remodelled and extended circa 1609-1665 by Sir Francis Vyvyan, who was granted a licence for the chapel in 1636, some remodelling in the C18 involving the architect Thomas Edwards and considerable works and remodelling in the C19 principally during the period of Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, circa 1827 to circa 1870. All the phases of building here have been carried out for the Vyvyan family who still own and occupy it. Rubble of various kinds and brick (mostly with incised rendering to resemble ashlar), granite dressings including mullioned windows, doorways, weatherings, hoodmoulds and parapet and gable copings, Pentewan stone (west extension of chapel). Mostly dry Delabole slate roofs laid in diminishing courses, hipped surrounding central valley over main (west) range, otherwise with coped gable ends. Granite ashlar chimneys mostly lateral, some axial.

Plan: The original plan now difficult to determine but was probably U-shaped in the C16, the main range probably with a three-room plan, including a hall, on the site of the present inner courtyard (west) side of the east range; at either side at right angles to the front (east) side was probably a wing, each wing with a first floor hall/great chamber/solar over (the position of this C16 building is still expressed outwardly by the surviving windows with arch-headed lights and the ends of the wings by the buttresses flanking the arched windows in the east entrance. A circa early C19 elevation drawing shows the right-hand wing to be three storeys but a Borlase print of 1758 shows two storeys. Also in the C16 was probably a service range set back on the right hand side of the present entrance front and the walls of this largely survive. In the C17, space between the wings was filled in, the house was probably extended on the left hand side and greatly at the rear (west) which became the entrance front during the C17 and the C18.

At the rear left hand side, at right angles, a chapel in Gothic survival style was added (circa 1636), which returned at right angles at the end forming a short wing pointing away from the courtyard. At the other side at the rear, a parlour wing was added with a similar overall plan, so the house became once more an overall U-shape but open at the west side instead of the east. There is a service range parallel to the outer side of the parlour range and originally with a narrow courtyard between, this may be C17 and remodelled in the C18 or possibly be entirely C18 for there are no surviving pre-C18 features. Possibly in the late C18 but perhaps in the C19 the building at the end of the chapel was removed (still shown in a print by Richard Polwhele) and the chapel was extended or the last three bays rebuilt. The so called 'Strawberry Hill' Gothic plasterwork may have originally been by Thomas Edwards together with some other slightly Gothic features in the house but C19 additions and remodelling make interpretation difficult. In the C19, probably during the Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan period, circa 1827 to circa 1870, the end of the other wing was remodelled and slightly extended, but a C17 gable with scrolled kneelers (like the ones shown in the Polwhele print) still survives at the north side with the rear of the roof steeper than the front (this was possibly so that the more hidden rear roofs could be thatched or shingled for economy but the front slated.)

In the final phase, circa early C20 a service range was added, set back on the right. Two storeys plus attics with dormers facing central roof valley. East entrance front: five bays with weathered buttresses between bays, plus service range set back on right, both with embattled parapets. The main five-bay range has central doorway (probably C18 or early C18) with an earlier basket-arched (probably C17) doorway on the right. The former probably C16 wings are bays two and four, bay two (from left) first floor, has a probably C16 five-light mullioned window with arch-headed lights. A similar window to the first floor of bay four is a C19 copy but probably replacing an original window. All the windows have hoodmoulds - the other windows are either C17 or C19 copies: (from left), first bay has four-light window to ground floor and over; second bay has six-light window to ground floor; central entrance bay has three-light window over doorway; fourth bay has four-light ground floor window and the right hand bay, probably added in the C19 (not shown on Borlase picture of 1758), has six-light ground floor window and similar window over. The doorway has a four-centred arch and square hoodmould. Circa early C19 double doors with octagonal and traceried panes. The older doorway (now blocked, rediscovered in the C20) may align with the former through passage position of the pre C17 house.

The south end of the range includes the parlour with ballroom above. Rebuilt in granite ashlar probably by Thomas Edwards circa mid C18 (pre 1758) with a canted two-storey bay window in the middle flanked by two-light windows. Set back on the right of the east front is a two bay C17 front with three-light mullioned windows and set back slightly from this on the far right is a three-bay service range front, dated 1828, with two-light mullioned windows. Courtyard front (west). Three bays with central octagonal two storey granite ashlar window projection, formerly with entrance to the ground floor. This part of the house is a C19 remodelling of the C17 entrance front. A plaque below the sill of the middle first floor window is dated 1662. The window at the first floor right, five-light with arch-headed lights, is probably C16, the six-light ground floor window probably 1662 and the two windows on the left of the porch are similar but C19 copies.

South range: chapel: built circa 1636 in freestone, originally five bays with doorway to fourth from left bay on the inner courtyard (north) side; the first four bays survive; the western end partly rebuilt as three bays circa early C19, repeating the Gothic survival style of the original part. There is some classical influence: round headed windows and hoodmould resembling an open pediment over the doorway. 3:1:3 bays north front, the fifth bay slightly wider; high plinth; weathered buttresses of diminishing width dividing the bays; impost string linked to round-arched hoodmoulds over windows; moulded cornice with plain parapet with moulded coping over. The windows are three-light with cinquefoil-headed lights and quatrefoil tracery, the original windows with replaced tracery. The doorway is four-centred with bracket shaped lower hoodmould up to impost string level. Studded Gothic traceried panelled door. The south side of the chapel is similarly detailed with a window to each of the seven bays and a lateral chimney with octagonal shaft between bays two and three from left. The gable end (west) has tall ordered round-headed four-light traceried window with ogee shaped hoodmould; octagonal corner buttresses with Gothic style spirelets and a stepped coping with pinnacles. All the windows of the chapel have leaded glazing.

North range: south front: two storeys, six bays, the left hand bay rebuilt in the C19, the other bays substantially original; bays one to three from left with three light mullioned windows, the mullions C19 replacements; the right hand three bays with original outer frames of former mullioned windows but with circa early C19 three-light casements with octagonal panes. The first floor windows are gabled half dormers. All the windows have hoodmoulds. The west return wall is entirely circa mid C19 1:2:1 bays. Gable ends slightly projecting left and right with two storey bay windows with embattled parapets. There is a doorway in the third from left bay. This front overlooks the Ladies Garden qv. North wall has highly irregular disposition size and shape of openings with various sashes, some presumably circa mid C18, with wide glazing bars and two are circa late C18, five-panes wide with thin glazing bars. On the right is the gable end of a projecting C17 wing with scrolled kneelers to an irregular coped gable (see plan). Interior much of the interior is Strawberry Hill Gothic circa late C18 but part may be circa early C19 following the same theme. (There are however a few more robust details including some moulded plaster cornices of circa mid C18.)

Entrance hall and stair: plaster panelled walls, coffered under landings, in Gothic mode; open-well open string cantilevered stone stair with heavy turned and carved newel over curtail steps, ramped mahogany handrail over scrolled wrought iron balusters, carved tread ends and some Vitruvian scroll detail; six panel mahogany doors, one doorcase with ovolo architrave and entablature with modillioned cornice carried on consoles. Stair rises to different floor levels of the former wings on either side. Drawing room, once library: sunk panelling with trefiol heads; anthemion cornice; marble chimney piece with an overmantle formerly in the chapel; plasterwork in C18 manner, possibly Victorian. Library, once parlour: mid C19 panelling; Italian marble chimney piece; doorway into the east (ritual west) end of chapel.

Morning room: C18 panelling with dentil cornice; six-panel doors, one of which is an iron fire door and circa 1830 marble chimney piece. Old kitchen in far north range: circa early C18 granite fireplace with segmental head, impost blocks and keystone; built-in C18 dresser. Ante-room to ballroom: possibly C18 but may well be C19 pastiche. Panelled walls with Gothic style plasterwork and ogee-headed doorways. Ballroom: Circa 1840 with Guilloche moulding to canopied ceiling; marble chimney piece. Probably original C18 plaster ceiling cornice over window bay. Room known as Saint Martin's: C18 egg and dart cornice; C19 chimney piece. Room above Saint Martin's: early C18 chimney-piece with bolection moulded surround.

Three chambers in the courtyard range of the north wing have plaster barrel vault ceilings, probably C17 in origin but probably renewed in the C18, the west room ceiling probably C19 copy. The roof structure over this range is circa early C17. with halved lapped dovetail jointed collars and threaded purlins. The roofs over the east range not inspected but the roof over the chapel is of a similar structure to north range according to Sumpster. Chapel Interior Strawberry hill Gothic with very fine plasterwork, possibly originally by Thomas Edwards but may have been renewed in the C19, certainly the west end work is C19. Dado panelling with Gothic style panels; paired seats with canopied heads, set into the piers between the windows; doorways with crocketted heads above; brattished cornice with florets and plaster ribbed vault with central spine rib with carved bosses over the intersections.

Trelowarren has been the home of the Vyvyans since the C15. In 1227 it was held by Robert Cardinan, passing by marriage to the Ferrers family and again by marriage to the Vyvians. The first Vyvian baronet was Sir Richard, Master of the Mint at Exeter during the Civil Wars and a supporter of the King. Sir Richard Vyvian was probably responsible for much of the C17 work at the house. Another Sir Richard Vyvyan carried out much work in the C18 (Thomas Edwards period) and in the C19 Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan made many alterations.

This house has a complicated plan development, now difficult to unravel because of the number of periods involved, however there may well be some of the late medieval structure reused but the periods best represented now are the C17, C18 and circa early and mid C19. The chapel is very fine with its part C17 exterior and plasterwork of uncertain date. The internal features of the house are a complex transition from one period to another with the changes of period flowing one to the other in an uncertain mixture, suggesting that much work was started then not completed. The C19 alterations and renewal, some in probably replica style of replaced features adds to the problem making accurate dating difficult. The overall effect of the exterior however is very satisfying, the C19 work linking well with the earlier periods.

Listing NGR: SW7208623866


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


'Country Life' in 22 July, (1999)
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 8 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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