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THE SEAT OF
EDWARD BOSCAWEN, VISCOUNT FALMOUTH.
The name of this ancient family is derived from the lordship and manor of Boscawen, in this county, of which they were owners, in the reign of King John; but, as early as the middle of the fourteenth century, John de Boscawen marrying Johan, daughter and heiress of John de Tregothnan, this estate has since that time been the principal seat of the family.
It is situated in the parish of St. Michael Penkevil, in the east division of the hundred of Powder. The mansion stands on an elevated spot near the Fal, commanding a most beautiful view of the windings of that river and its various contributory branches : between Truro and this place, it swells into a large basin, from whence extending in width, it forms the capacious and secure harbour of Falmouth, and falls into the British Channel within view ; on the land side also the prospect is very extensive over a richly wooded country.
The mansion has been recently erected, near the site of the old house, by the present nobleman, under the direction of W. Wilkins, Esq., in the style, and agreeably to the taste, displayed in the reign of Henry the Seventh : in the construction, the architect, it must be admitted, has made a very choice selection of the most perfect examples extant. Its irregularity of form, and variety of enrichment, have been adopted with minute attention to the genuine character of the buildings of that period; the ornamental battlements, and richly decorated turrets surmounting the whole, have a most pleasing effect; while the sculptured compartments and mullioned windows co-operate to produce the utmost uniformity of design in this truly magnificent edifice. The Great Staircase of the mansion, forty-two feet in height, which occupies the large central tower, is entered from a Corridor under the porte-cocher; around this are placed, the Drawing-room, fifty-four feet long, by twenty-eight feet wide ; Breakfast-room, Dining-room, Billiard-room, and Study, the latter communicating with the private apartments above. The Library opens to the Drawing-room and Study.
The only parts of the interior, which partake of the character of the outer walls, are the Corridor and the Staircase; the latter gives access to the principal apartments above, by two flights branching off right and left from the central flight: the ceiling is a beautiful specimen of enriched Gothic.
A wide terrace with a parapet extends round the building, leading to a remarkably fine lawn, surrounded by plantations of the greatest variety of shrubs and evergreens. In the park are many very fine old chestnut-trees; a pleasant ride has been formed on the banks of the river, some miles in extent; and a commodious 'bathing-house erected for the use of the family.
In the year 1626, Hugh Boscawen, Esq., the representative of the family, succeeded his father as lord of the manor of Tregothnan, &c. and was chosen one of the knights of the shire for this county, in the 16th of Charles the First, and also in that parliament which restored King Charles the Second. Edward Boscawen, Esq., his son, was one of the leading members of the house of commons in the reign of King Charles the Second, being one of the representatives for the borough of Tregony, from the restoration to his death, in the last year of that king's reign.
Hugh Boscawen, Esq., his only surviving son, served in several parliaments, in the reign of Queen Anne, for this county, and was groom of the bed-chamber to Prince George of Denmark. In 1708, he was made Warden of the Stannaries; and, in 1720, he was created Baron of BoscawenRose, and Viscount Falmouth; he was Captain of St. Mawe's Castle, and Recorder of the towns of Tregony and Penryn. His Lordship died suddenly at Trefuses, in 1734. Hugh, his son, second Viscount, in 1745, raised a regiment, at his own expense, to serve against the rebels ; and, in 1747, was constituted Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard to King George the Second, and was continued in that office by King George the Third, at his accession to the throne. He died in 1782, and was succeeded in his titles and estates by his nephew, Evelyn George, third Viscount Falmouth, who distinguished himself in America during the war. In 1808, his son Edward, the fourth Viscount, came to the title.
CAErhays is situate on the southern coast, about ten miles S. E. of St. Austle, and four miles S. of Grampound.
The existing Mansion has been entirely erected by the present possessor, nearly on the site of another one considerably ancient. The walls are composed of the rough slaty stone of the immediate neighbourhood, coyned and parapeted with the China stone peculiar to this county, and so called from being a component part of British porcelain.
The Southern or principal Front, of 160 feet, is elevated on an embattled terrace; from which the grounds slope, in considerable declivity, to a rapid stream. The great gates of entrance are toward the north ; forming the inner side of a spacious square Tower, which is perforated by arches, admitting a covered carriage-way to the doors.
The whole character of the building presents, with considerable correctness, the features of the semi-castellated dwellings of our ancestors; and very scientifically harmonizes with the picturesque wildness of the surrounding scenery.
The interior preserves the same style, as far as it can be consistently adapted to the required arrangement of modern society. The principal rooms are toward the south and east, connected internally to the other apartments, by a gallery of considerable dimensions ; at the end of which is placed a very fine staircase, groined in an elegant and correct manner.
The whole of the decorations and furniture correspond with the proposed character of the building. The windows of the Dining-room, Staircase, and Entrance-hall, are rich with the brilliant hues of painted glass; that on the staircase is of noble size, containing the badges of the several Dukes of Cornwall, with selections from the armorial distinctions and alliances of the family, arranged with considerable attention to coeval propriety.
The former Caerhays (in the Cornish language signifying an enclosed castle,) was of great antiquity, and had been much enlarged during the reign of King Henry the Eighth ; whose arms, with those of the family, supported, taken from the former tower of entrance, still exist. Part of the ancient chapel is yet remaining; and an elevated walk in the grounds toward the sea, to this time retains the name of the Watch-house Walk, although very faint indication is left of the former existence of such a building. From this point a most magnificent sea-view is obtained, extending to the Lizard Point, and enlivened by the constant traffic of St. George's Channel. On the opposite point of the small beach has been lately erected a monument to the memory of the late Captain Bettesworth of the Royal Navy.
Caerhays is noticed, in the History of Cornwall, by Carew, as one of those few Seats in this county that possessed an enclosed Park. It still retains that distinction.
In a county, so celebrated for the clear antiquity of its gentry, the family of Trevanion stands highly eminent. They derive this estate by marriage with the daughter of Arundel of Trerice, as far back as the reign of King Edward III.
In Mr. Polwhele's beautiful poem, “ Isabel of Cotele,” founded on events that occurred during the time of Queen Mary, Sir William Trevanion appears as a very principal personage. The powerful families of Edgecumbe and Trevanion were related by the marriage of Sir William Trevanion to Agnes, the daughter of Sir Richard Edgecumbe, Knight Banneret.
Queen Elizabeth appointed Charles Trevanion, of Caerhays, Esq. to be Vice-Admiral of the Western Coasts, on whom Carew bestows a high compliment for his private merits. His mother was the daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan, Knight, and sister to the wife of the first Lord Hunsdon.
In 1710, John Trevanion, of Caerhays, Esq. married the daughter of William, fourth Lord Berkeley of Stratton ; and about the same time, her sister was united to an ancestor of the late Lord Byron.
Sir John Trevor, Comptroller of the Household to King James I. from whom Lord Viscount Hampden descends ; Robert, Baron Carey, of Lippinton, afterwards Earl of Monmouth; and Nicholas Boscawen, ancestor of Lord Viscount Falmouth; are among the distinguished persons, that have sought alliances with this ancient family.
The point from which the Sketch was taken, is the upper part of the grounds toward the N. E.; for which, as well as for the description, the proprietors are indebted to Thomas Wiliement, Esq.