Carminow effigy, Mawgan in Meneage Church

The history of Cornwall has to a large extent been determined by its geographical location at the extreme westerly tip of England, with its rugged coastline surrounded on three sides by the sea.

The history of Trerose, likewise, could be said to derive from its strategic position at the mouth of the Helford River, used to advantage by seafarers, smugglers and pirates with local knowledge of the estuary.

The Celtic Cornish race, fiercely independent, have a turbulent record, and the families who lived at Trerose, whilst not infrequently distinguished by high office, certainly played their part in the rebellious story of the Cornish people.

 

Early History

The site of the manor is ancient and is thought to have had bronze age ‘round’ houses inside a strong perimeter wall, still evidenced today by the bend in the road around the property. During the Anglo-Saxon raids when the Cornish were constantly being driven west, Trerose, which resisted the attack, would have been a haven for the locals, stealthily escaping under sail or oar via the Helford to Brittany.

Carminows and Walebrews

The link between Cornwall and Brittany was a key factor in the history of the Carminows, who backed William of Normandy thereby regaining lands that had been snatched by the Anglo Saxons. It is believed that in the 13th century, Sir Roger de Carmynou, began the building of Trerose; his effigy, indicating that he took part in the Crusades, lies in Mawgan Church (pictured above right). It was he who gifted Trerose to the Walebrews by way of a dynastic settlement on the marriage of his daughter. The Walebrews, who lived at Trerose for 250 years, had a famous ancestor who, on being saved from shipwreck when returning from the Holy Land with a relic of the true cross, built the Church of the Holy Cross on the Lizard.

Killigrews and Slannings

The Killigrews, whose main base was at Arwenack in Falmouth acquired Trerose in the late 1500’s; they were notorious pirates, despite holding high office and were adept at disappearing when ‘things got too hot’! As Falmouth was by now reasonably fortified by Pendennis and St. Mawes Castles, the Helford would have played a key role in their piratical skulduggery! It could be said that Sir Nicholas Slanning, the last distinguished owner of Trerose, represents the final chapter in the turbulent history of the county. Sir Nicholas, who acquired Trerose on his appointment as Governor of Pendennis Castle, sided with Charles I against Cromwell; he became one of the leaders of the Cornish, driving out the Roundheads, but tragically lost his life at the age of 31 at the Siege of Bristol.