Perranuthnoe lies between Cudden Point and Marazion, with good views of St. Michael's Mount to the West and of Acton Castle and Cudden Point to the East.
Although the Church is situated in Perranuthnoe, the Ecclesiastical Parish includes the village of Goldsithney and extends to the edge of St.Hiliary and Rosudgeon, including the hamlets of Trenow, Trebarvah, Perran Downs and Trevean.
It is believed the parish has been occupied since prehistoric days.
There is a field named 'Park-an-Chamber’ to the East of the village, which suggests that a Bronze Age chambered tomb may have been there. Roman settlement in the village is indicated by the names of the fields.
However, the first documentary reference to the village was of that in the Domesday Survey in 1086.
Beorhtric holds PERRANUTHNOE. Hademar held it TRE and it paid geld for 1 virgate of land. Yet there is 1 hide. [There is] land for 2 ploughs. There are 1 ½ ploughs, and 3 slaves and 7 villans and 8 bordars, and 30 acres of pasture. Formerly 30s ; now it is worth 10s.
In that, The Manor of 'Uthno' (Odenol), is listed as being held by a man called 'Britric', with his predecessor listed as 'Haemar' ( see Haemoor, a part of Penzance).
At that time the population of the village consisted of 8 smallholders, 7 villagers and 3 slaves!
The Manor of 'Uthno' is mentioned in several medieval documents with references to 'little' and ' large' Uthno, suggesting that perhaps the village was divided into two parts.
From the early 13th Century the Whalesboroughs were Lords of the Manor, with it passing to the Trevelyans upon the marriage of Elizabeth Whalesborough to John Trevelyan. The Trevelyan Court leet was held annually up until the First World War and this was a major event among the tenants during which their overseer was appointed.
By the mid 17th Century there were 22 households in Perranuthnoe, but by fifty years later the population had greatly increased to 506 parishioners. At this time in 1776 a poor house was built in Goldsithney. It’s remains, minus roof, with walls partly demolished, can still be seen in Poor Lane. The large door lintel had 1776 and WR carved on it. Probably these were the initials of William Richards who with Thomas Polkinhorne was overseer of the house.
The prosperity of the copper and tin mining increased the population to over a thousand around 1830, but as the price fell so the people emigrated in search of a better living, thus reducing the numbers back to 742 in 1931. The numbers of residents have recently increased again with people retiring in the area and increased general trading.
With the coming of John Wesley, chapels were built in Perranuthnoe, Goldsithney and Trevean in the early 1900's. The one at Trevean was granted to John Wesley himself and he refers to it in his Journal as the chapel on St.Hiliary Downs. The Weslyan Chapel in Goldsithney has recently been rebuilt and the Chapel in Perranuthnoe is now a family dwelling.
The main occupations in the area were of mining, farming, fishing and local trading.
At Acton Castle there was someone a little different! Admiral John Stackhouse was born near Truro in 1742. He became a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford at the age of 19. When 21 he inherited the Pendarves estates near Camborne. He built Acton Castle at Cudden Point during 1775, specifically to research the seaweeds there.
The architect he employed also designed Tregenna Castle in St. Ives, now a hotel. The house was given his wife's family name of Acton, and built so that she could accompany him whilst he was doing his research. A slipway was built and can still be seen, to bring the seaweed up from the cove. A sea water bath was cut out of the granite for her to bath in close to the slipway. His most important work, 'Nereis Britannica', ( on seaweeds) was produced between 1795 –1801, and two of his manuscripts of drawings of British crytogamic plants are housed in the library of the Linnean Society. He is commemorated by a genus of seaweed named after him, the Stackhousia.
Apparently his wife preferred life in London to that of Acton Castle, so she did not spend much time there. John Stackhouse died in 1819.
FARMING AND FISHING
These have been the mainstay of employment here since the first occupation of the area, and were very necessary as a source of food and livelihood.
In 1883 Kelly’s directory lists wheat, barley, oats, turnips, potatoes and broccoli were being grown, with potatoes and broccoli the main crops as they are now.
The fields were dressed with seaweed as a fertiliser and sand, which was pulled up from the beach by horses. There were dairy cattle.
Farm Scene 1870
Fishing was mainly for pilchards and mackerel, the boats being kept at Boat Cove and winched up from the sea.
Percy with the winch at Boat Cove
The 1902 Kelly's directory lists all the necessary shopkeepers for a large village from a butcher to blacksmith and coal merchant.
The Village Post Office 1917
Although tin has been traded from this area since around 2,000BC, the Bronze Age, mining expanded rapidly in Perranuthnoe for the copper, in the middle of the 18th C. Equally its decline in value was as rapid at the end of the 1800's.
There are the remains of several mines in the area. One of the most successful was Wheal Neptune owned by the Gundry's who became so prosperous that they issued their own bank notes.
Wheal Charlotte, Wheal Caroline, Wheal Jenny at Trebarvah, and the north lode at Tregurtha were all successful mines. It is said that at one time a 100 windlasses could be seen turning above the shafts, many developed by small local companies. Prince Albert came by steamer to Trenow Cove to inspect the 85-inch cylinder engine and to see the copper.
In the early 1900's silver was produced from a branch of the Tolvadden/Neptune lode, 14 tons of ore producing 3,440 ounces of silver. It was a very hard life for the miners who often walked great distances to the mines on a basic diet of bread and pilchards and, if they were lucky, a pasty!
There were many accidents, one of note in Perranuthnoe was that at Wheal Charlotte when the boiler blew up trapping and killing many men.
There is not much record of schools in the parish before 1840 when there was a private school run by Lady Carrington, Lady of the Manor, situated beside Perran Cross Roads where Trevelyan Farm now is sited. This school had 75 boys and girls whose fees ranged from 1 to 3 d. ( one to three pennies in our old money) per week!
In 1870 the Trevelyan school was transferred to the Parish and four years later divided into boys at Trevelyan, and girls at the Old Chapel in Goldsithney which was purchased for that purpose.
In 1876 the Goldsithney Board school was opened with an average number of 66 pupils who were taught by Miss Emily Lanyon, (perhaps a relative of Peter Lanyon the painter?).
In 1902 the Board School became an Elementary School until the early 1950's when it became a Primary school which is now closed.
GOLDSITHNEY CHARTER FAIR
Goldsithney Fair is still held annually , on August 5th, in the main street of the village. An event that has continued since the 11th Century and probably was held before then.
The name Goldsithney comes from 'goyl ' meaning Festival and Sithney named after a Celtic Saint where the festival was originally held.
The tradition says that the Fair was stolen from Sithney by Perranuthnoe folk who ran off with the glove suspended from a pole which was a form of Royal Charter, indicating that free trade prevailed. It was also a token of freedom from arrest during the period of the Fair.
Another version of the story is that miners of Goldsithney won the glove in a wrestling match and with it the right to hold the Fair in their village!
Early documentary sources seem to indicate that there is substance in both the stories.
The old name for the Fair was Mether Sithney Fair, but for most of its time it was held in the parish of Perranuthnoe under the Earldom and Duchy of Cornwall by the Whalesborough family and later by the Trevelyans.
Before the Norman Conquest 'Mether Sithney Fair' was in the Parish of Sithney which was held by the Bishops of Exeter in their Manor of Methleigh. The Fair is one of only two markets named in the Cornish Domesday survey in 1086, and according to that the half brother of William the conqueror, Count Robert of Mortain, a most important landowner in Cornwall, seized the Fair and transferred it to his own land near Marazion.
The Lord of the Manor of Uthno continued to pay a shilling a year to the churchwardens of Sithney.
There are many references to the Fair in the manorial records from 1377 onwards. It seems to have continued to thrive until towards the end of last century when its popularity declined and there was no longer cattle dealing.
Sir Walter Trevelyan, the last Lord of the Manor, discovered a lease dated 1694 in the 1930's, in which Sir John Trevelyan granted to John Davys of St. Hiliary, all the Goldsithney Fair for £70 and an annual rent of 20 shillings, (£1now!) on a 99 year lease. This included all the equipment for the erection of the stalls, which he had to provide for the stallholders, with the necessary utensils and implements. For that he could collect 'salary' from each stallholder.
One of the two Public Houses in Goldsithney is called the Trevelyan Arms. Today some members of the family are living in Australia and in Somerset and they have reclaimed St. James’s church room in Goldsithney which was leased to the church on a peppercorn rent for 99 years but had recently become derelict. As it was in a dangerous condition it was pulled down, and a house has been built on the site.
Submitted by - Joyce Knowles
Doomsday images - Kay Bowman
Editor - Kay Bowman
With thanks to:
- Cornwall Family History Society.5, Victoria Square, Truro, TR1 2RS
- Domesday Book. British Library, London.
- Perranuthnoe Parish. An Illustrated Historical Guide.