History

Where it all began: the Arundells

Since the Arundells built Trerice the great hall has been a hub © National Trust / Barbara Moffatt

Since the Arundells built Trerice the great hall has been a hub

By the 16th century the Arundell family had become well-established and was connected by marriage to nearly all the other landed families in Cornwall.

The status of the family increased through various members gaining good positions at the Royal court.

Their legacy is this grand manor on a Cornish scale.

Absentee landlords: the Aclands

Thomas Dyke Acland sketched and went on to restore Trerice © Angelo Hornak

Thomas Dyke Acland sketched and went on to restore Trerice

It was the marriage of John, 2nd Baron Arundell to Margaret Acland in 1675 that eventually led to the great Devonian family based at Killerton inheriting Trerice.

Sir Thomas Dyke Acland never lived at Trerice but often stayed on his political forays into Cornwall.

He also used the Great Hall for entertaining.

A family home: the Eltons

A sorry state: Trerice missing most of its north wing before restoration © National Trust

A sorry state: Trerice missing most of its north wing before restoration

Initially arriving at Trerice as tenants of its last private owner, the Eltons took on the tenancy from the National Trust in 1953.

At his own expense John Elton paid for the repair of the remaining parts of Trerice - and went on to rebuild the fallen north wing.

His aim was to create a comfortable family home.

The Arundell family

  • The Arundells inherited Trerice through marriage around 700 years ago
  • By 1572 John Arundell V had begun building the house we know today
  • Ten years earlier his income had been boosted by marrying well
  • The family's support for the crown gave them mixed fortunes
  • Sadly we know little about how the Arundell family lived at Trerice
  • The Arundell line died out in 1768, and Trerice passed to the Aclands

Rightful inheritance?

Sir John Arundell V rebuilt Trerice - but did he deserve to inherit it? © John Hammond

John Arundell V inherited in 1561.

However his father had a son and grandson from his first marriage and an elder brother born before his parents were married.

A good marriage

Are these Kathering and John Arundell's initials in the great hall ceiling? © John Hammond

When John Arundell V married Katherine Hill in 1562 her father gave him his lands and up to £60 a year.

Are these Katherine's initials on the Great Hall ceiling?

Royal recognition

This document elevated the status of the already powerful Arundell family © John Hammond

After the restoration of Charles II Richard Arundell became Baron Arundell in recognition of the support he and his father had given Charles I.

This patent grants him the title.

John for the King

King Charles I, whose cause was upheld by 'John for the King' Arundell

Son of the builder of Trerice, Sir John Arundell VI earnt the title John for the King due to his role in the Civil War, especially his defence of Pendennis Castle in Falmouth for Charles I (above).

Romantic sketches

Acland sketched the south wing of Trerice, and noted its state of decay  © National Trust

Acland sketched the south wing of Trerice, and noted its state of decay

When Thomas Dyke Acland visited Trerice he was keen to sketch the place.

Like other men and women of the time he had a fondness for sketching romantic ruins and landscapes.

What he found at Trerice was an ancient place - romantic but also in a perilous state.

By the end of his life he'd overseen much restoration.

Agriculture

As an extensive tenanted farm, the barn was a hub for Trerice © National Trust

As an extensive tenanted farm, the barn was a hub for Trerice

In the 1840s Thomas Dyke Acland had the Great Hall and Chamber restored, but at the time if you ventured further you'd find yourself in a farmhouse.

Trerice was let to the Tremaine family who farmed 500 acres, employed twelve men, four women and four boys.

The great barn came into its own as part of the farm.

A great estate

The once extensive estate at Trerice contained this watermill at Trewerry © National Trust

The once extensive estate at Trerice contained this watermill at Trewerry

The estate at Trerice extended to 500 acres and included a watermill as well as many other buildings, woodland and orchards.

After the First World War the subsequent owners divided the estate into twelve separate farms, leaving Trerice with a vastly reduced acreage.

A feast in the Great Hall

Imagine the Great Hall full of people, voices and smells of food cooking © NT / Beth Nash

Imagine the Great Hall full of people, voices and smells of food cooking

In 1844 our local newspaper reported that:

On Wednesday, Sir T. D. Acland held his Baronial Court at Trerice…about 150 of his tenantry dined with the worthy Baronet in the noble Hall at Trerice, which has recently been restored to its original condition, and is a very fine specimen of the Elizabethan age.

The Elton family

  • The Eltons first came to Trerice in 1944
  • They returned in 1953 as the first tenants of the National Trust
  • Trerice was in poor condition and needed urgent repairs
  • Initially the roof and remaining south wing were repaired
  • Then the north wing was rebuilt having fallen down a century earlier
  • In 1965 the Eltons left Trerice having ensured its future survival

Taking on Trerice

 © National Trust

John Elton negotiated a lease with the National Trust that would give his family the opportunity to remain at Trerice for at least two hundred years from 1953.

He expected to pay £20,000 on restoring and rebuilding Trerice. He ended up paying three times that amount - resulting in very high quality construction standards.

Living at Trerice

The house at Trerice lit up as part of regular evening opening © Barbara Moffatt

The Eltons and their architect created a comfortable family home with domestic offices, bedroom suites in the second floor and other rooms in the rebuilt north wing.

The Elton family used the various spaces for entertaining and the entire house was used for John Elton's sons' 21st birthday parties.

Opening to visitors

The house at Trerice lit up as part of regular evening opening © National Trust

Soon after the Eltons took on the tenancy the house was opened to visitors.

They could view the front court, the Great Hall and Chamber only, on Wednesdays and Sundays, 2-5pm from April to September. The admission fee was two shillings, or ten pence today. To see more than 25 visitors in a day would be a surprise.

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