The Old Rectory at Lanreath

So the Airbnb we stayed at was in Lanreath.

Our friend we went on the trip with finally found it after we had TWO other Airbnb hosts cancel on us. That never happens! We were happy though because this one, called The Old Rectory, felt so FULL of stories just waiting to be discovered.

So I did some reading. I think I had a vague idea that a rectory has something to do with churches before, but now I truly understand. St. Marnarch's Parish church is just a block away from this home, and all of the land used to be together, with the rector (minister of the Anglican church assigned to that region) living here in this rectory. How cool that we landed here!

^^She's the amazing one who found this place!

The Old Rectory website has an amazing history write-up embedding the story of the Rectory within the history of the times, from Celtic down through Roman, Norman, and English reign. This history is all new to me! I'm going to include it here in this blog post (it's not clear on the website who wrote it)!

"The village of Lanreath is ancient. The name itself derives from the 11th century name of Lanredoch (Lan meaning the site of an ancient Church so the name literally meant Redoc’s Church site). In the 16th Century the name was softened to Lanreatha and the final ‘a’ was dropped sometime after that. It is pronounced Lan~reth.

More than two thousand years ago, Cornwall was as much a Celtic nation as Wales and Scotland.

Iron Age Celts spread all over England, down through northern France, into Middle and Eastern Europe. These peoples shaped the hill fort that still dominates nearby Bury Down (approximately half a mile to the north-east) and it is likely that the area sheltered at least one settled community."

"In AD 43 the Romans invaded, and though their initial arrival may not have touched what they called Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) they did slowly come nearer, travelling down the ancient tracks that still run along the spine of Cornwall, constructing a camp near the spot now occupied by Bodmin town. After an occupation lasting four centuries the invaders retreated and in the vacuum left by their departure tribal warfare broke out once again. In addition, along the southern and eastern coasts of Britain hordes of Angles and Saxons were beginning to swarm ashore."

"The end of Celtic Britain was in sight, but it was not something that was going to happen over night. For fifty years a ferocious struggle raged across the breadth of what is now England. Gradually the British leaders fell back towards Wales and the South West."

"The legend of King Arthur belongs to this period and if Arthur did exist, in some form at least (and many modern historians believe he did) it’s certainly possible that his final stronghold was to be found in Cornwall. King Mark, often associated with the Arthurian stories, is said to have ruled the area around Lanreath and a few miles away, on the other side of the Fowey River, an ancient memorial stone commemorates the existence of Mark’s nephew, the even more celebrated Tristan."

There is a fun little ghost story about this inn!

More generally, they write that "The Punch Bowl Inn claimed to be the 'very first licensed public house in the land,' acquiring its license in 1620, although the building itself is believed to be older in origin. In its time it saw service as a courthouse, a coaching inn and a smugglers den. But, it served its last pint (or, to be precise, the staff within served their last pint) on 1st May 2012 and, at the time of writing the future for the building is undecided."

St. Marnarch's Parish Church

Continuing with the history write-up...

"Mystery surrounds the wars and the rulers that shaped Dumnonia during this period [5th and 6th centuries], but one powerful influence of the time is fairly well documented - Christianity. It is through this early Celtic Church that the prefix ‘’Lan’ was used to describe a monastic settlement, often set within a circular enclosure."

It is reasonable to suppose that here in this valley, perhaps on the very spot where the parish church now stands, there dwelt a small community of Celtic monks.

"Saint Marnarch (pronounced in the same way as Monarch), patron of the church, was probably their founder, but like many Cornish saints he is an obscure figure and though he is thought to have spent some time on the north coast nothing at all is known about the origins of his connection with Lanreath."

"Several centuries were to elapse before the Anglo-Saxons’ final conquest of Dumnonia. Eastern Cornwall and the area around Lanreath, would have been one of the first to come under direct Anglo-Saxon influence and in 1066, when Norman William invaded, the village was held by a Saxon known as Aelfric. Saxon dominance was short-lived and by 1087, when William’s clerks compiled the Domesday Book, the whole of Cornwall had been handed over to Richard, Count of Mortain, half-brother of the Conqueror and one of the most powerful men in England."

"The parish, at that time, extended to an area of something like one hundred and forty acres. There were forty acres of woodland (in which pigs would have routed for acorns); thirty acres of pasture supporting three head of cattle and sixty sheep, and enough arable land, according to Domesday Book, to provide work for eight ploughs, though there were only three ploughs in the village. It is likely that these ploughs were shared between the fifteen or so resident families."

"Celtic monasteries and narrow Saxon churches were being pulled down to make way for sturdy Norman structures. There is no doubt that the present day parish church of St. Marnarch was originally a fairly typical example of Norman workmanship. A large part of that building still stands to-day, though during the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries there were to be a number of alterations and additions."

"The coming of the Spanish Armada, in 1588, caused a stir all along the southern coast of Cornwall; but it was not until the seventeenth century that Lanreath itself came into direct contact with great events... Meanwhile, across the country storm clouds were gathering and in 1642 the Civil war began."

"Cornwall was staunchly loyal to the Royalist cause and for several years Cromwell’s Army found it impossible to gain any sort of foothold west of the Tamar. The County gentlemen fought with conspicuous gallantry and when, in the summer of 1644, the Parliamentarian Lord Essex attempted to seize Launceston and Bodmin the King himself led an army into Cornwall."

"The King, accompanied by his fourteen-year-old son (the future Charles II), his entourage and his Generals, stayed first in Liskeard and then at the great mansion of Boconnoc, four miles north of Lanreath. As the siege went on the area between the Fowey and Looe Rivers must have teemed with Royalists troops. Some were definitely quartered in Lanreath, and there is a tradition that on one occasion at least King Charles himself visited the village, spending an hour or so at the courthouse, now the Punch Bowl Inn...Lord Essex’s army was worn down and scattered but the power of Parliament could not be held at bay for ever and on August 17th, 1647, the last Cornish fortress to hold out (Pendennis Castle, near Falmouth) reluctantly surrendered to General Fairfax. Eighteen months later King Charles I was executed. The ensuing decade of Parliamentarian rule was not popular in Cornwall, but it had to be endured. It is not known whether the Grylls family were at any time involved in helping Royalist fugitives to escape but"

it has been suggested that the underground tunnel, entrances to which can still be seen beneath the Old Rectory, may date from this period.

"Soon, in any case, Francis was replaced as Rector by a man whose views were more in tune with those of the Government and in order to avoid sequestration of their estates his relations were ordered to pay crippling fines."

"By 1660 the Commonwealth was running out of steam and with the Restoration came almost immediate relief. Barely six months after the King’s return another Francis Grylls was instituted as Rector of Lanreath."

You'll never believe what I found googling "Lanreath church" - a website with links to voter lists, newspaper reports, and wills all connected with the Parish! And the will of the man in the gravestone on the right above! William Searle.


The Old Rectory

"In this same year [1660] we find the first written reference to his parsonage 1679, in the Ecclesiastical Records for that year, is a detailed description of the Rectory."

"The building contained a hall, a ‘parlour with boarded floor’, a kitchen ‘with great range and two ovens’ - and an amazing number of rooms devoted to the pursuit of self-sufficiency, among them a bread house, bake house, brew house, buttery, pantry and dairy. Outside there was a barn, a stable, a calves’ house ‘with hay store above’, an ox house, a malt house, ‘four small rooms for hogs and a dove house of stone’. The gardens included ‘the Pigeon House garden’, two kitchen gardens and a place for ‘flowers and sweet herbs’."

"One after the other, three more members of the Grylls family (William, Nicholas and Richard) were to become Rectors of Lanreath...The next Rector was Hele Trelawny. Hele’s term did not last long, and in 1740 he was replaced by Joshua Howell."

"In 1785 Joshua Howell died and his place was taken by Edward Pole, an even more shadowy figure than his predecessor. He was Rector for fifteen years and during his time the Napoleonic Wars began, bringing with them new fears of invasion."

"While the war was in progress something of a blind eye was often turned upon the smuggling trade. Throughout the eighteenth century smuggling had been endemic in Cornwall and many country gentlemen became involved; among them one of the Rectors of Lanreath. The Punch Bowl Inn was definitely a centre of activity, and when this kind of work was in hand the Rectory’s ‘secret passage’, originally constructed for other purposes, could have come in very handy. Edward Pole died in 1800, and the new century brought a new family into the life of Lanreath Rectory."

"For several hundred years the Bullers had been respected landowners... By 1800 their seat was at Morval, near Looe, and it’s there that Richard Buller, Rector of Lanreath from 1800-1827, was probably born. He does not appear to have been a remarkable figure, but his incumbency saw the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the end (almost) of Georgian England."

His wife probably read the new novels of Jane Austen, provided Richard didn’t disapprove.

"The next incumbent, Stephen Worsley, was instructed by his Bishop to put things right, and it may be for this reason that he chose to reside in Blackheath, near London, leaving a curate in charge while essential work was carried out...Soon after the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, another Richard Buller was instituted as Rector, and an important era had begun."

"When he arrived to take control of his new parish the Reverend Richard Buller, Rector of Lanreath from 1829-1883, was thirty-three years old. His wife, Elizabeth, was the same age and they had two children, Rhoda aged five and Alexander aged three, with a second daughter, Emmeline, soon to be born."

"They were wealthy, had excellent connections, and Elizabeth planned to continue to do a lot of entertaining. The existing Rectory would not be adequate for their needs and so, they engaged an architect...and embarked upon a series of elaborate alterations, finally adding a southern section which almost doubled the size of the house... All this meant that the building contained something like twenty-five rooms. Although the Victorian age had begun there was not yet a Victorian style, and in character the new work was utterly Georgian."

The gardens were also considered to be in need of attention. The Bullers are said to have planted innumerable trees and shrubs. The magnificent wisteria on the western side of the house probably dates from this time, though it may be older. The facsimile of Richard Buller, displayed inside the Church, reveals the quintessential Victorian parson. From his comfortable Rectory he must have watched the spread and development of the British Empire; and when, round about 1850, Alexander followed family tradition by going into the Navy he probably reflected with satisfaction that little now menaced a Service which had already subdued the world."

"John Buller-Kitson became Rector in 1883, and like the Grylls’ of long ago must have felt the Rectory was almost a family home. His incumbency saw the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the First World War."

^^Boricua & La Blue hehe ;)

"John Buller-Kitson was succeeded by Leonard Williams, but Mr. Williams’ term was short, and four years later his place was taken by Reginald Murley, who was to see Lanreath through the troubled period of the Twenties and Thirties. When he died, in 1939, he was succeeded by Charles Girling, the last Rector (though not the last clergyman) ever to occupy Lanreath Rectory."

"Mr. Girling had a lively young family and was popular in the village. He was instituted on January 13th, 1940, at a time of desperate national anxiety, and

one of his first acts was to order the digging up of the west lawn and the creation in its place of a large emergency vegetable garden.

"Lanreath Home Guard met regularly in his study and there their weapons were kept, stored in a cupboard so large that it has since been turned into the kitchen of Caerhays apartment! Soon Plymouth was being devastated by enemy action, and from time to time even the little town of Looe came under attack. Lanreath’s young men were far away and in danger (the Roll of Honour inside the Church lists those who were serving at this time) and there was a real fear that the invasion, if it came, might be launched on the beaches of Cornwall."

"The Girling family remained at Lanreath Rectory until 1962, but some time before that date it had begun to be evident that the Rectory (as a rectory) did not fit into the modern world."

It had been built to house a self-sufficient community, and such communities were now part of the past.

"In 1962, after Charles Girling’s death, the Church Commissioners put the old house up for sale. The purchaser, a private company, sought and obtained permission to convert its acquisition into eight flats...several pieces of land - constituting most of the current village east of the Punch Bowl Inn, were sold off as potential building sites..."

"The house had changed dramatically; but survived with much of its character intact. There is every possibility that without this new use, the original building might have been pulled down to build further modern housing. Hundreds of families have spent happy holidays in the house, most of them going home relaxed, many returning again and again."

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