Unlocking lost Trelissick

Trelissick lost door keys

All houses have secrets, but some have more than their fair share. Sealed behind locked doors, hidden in cellars or lost beneath floorboards, the fascinating secrets of Trelissick house are slowly starting to be rediscovered.

Presiding over its own peninsula and remodelled by each of its five owners, Trelissick’s history is a fascinating tale of prosperity, collapse and change. But as a result bits of that history have been lost along the way. So how exciting would it be to know each day you went to work you could solve a mystery, uncovering the house’s story piece by piece? Or in volunteer Mike Pulley’s case: key by key.

One key at a time

It all started for Mike when an old tin box was found full of unlabelled keys. Intrigued to find out what they might open Mike started touring the house and so far, he’s reunited fifteen keys with their long lost locks. The only problem is that one box has now grown to a box of boxes of keys- for luggage, doors, clocks, furniture, buildings, old and new(ish), of all shapes and sizes- so now every Wednesday morning, Mike can be found exploring the house, trying to unlock Trelissick’s history one key at a time.

Inside the box of boxes of lost keys
Lost flat keys at trelissick
Inside the box of boxes of lost keys

However, some locks are hidden so well they take a while to find. Like many grand houses, Trelissick is home to clever false features: the impressive double doors into the dining room, one side actually being a wall, or the symmetrical doors in the West Library, only one of which opens - or so they thought. It was actually just locked, concealing a forgotten safe with a forgotten content.

The forgotten room 

But Trelissick has more than one forgotten element. It has an entire forgotten room. Above the back door are two easily over-looked bricked-up windows, the only visible clues to the location of Trelissick’s Lost Room. Rediscovered by chance the room is completely sealed off from the rest of the house, it’s now only accessible through the floorboards of an under stairs cupboard. Containing half wall-papered walls, a fireplace and newspaper from a past era this old dressing room lay untouched for 60 years, annexed when the house was reconfigured. So where its bricked-up doorway now leads nobody can quite work out. Trelissick is a house so full of mysteries that it keeps everybody guessing, especially when it comes to the riddle of the newly discovered, but long rumoured, secret tunnel.

The secret tunnel 

Glimpsed from the cellars this tunnel is a mystery. Is its exit waiting to be uncovered beneath the sundial in flowerbed behind the house? Or under a now disused outbuilding? Or has it simply disappeared somewhere behind the walls of the secret garden (oh, yes, there’s that too). Some say it was used for ferrying food into the house, and some that it was to allow the family to leave unseen: in so many ways, it’s a story whose ending is yet to be discovered.  

These secrets are part of Trelissick’s character. As Mike puts it “what we like about the house is…we’re discovering it as we go along.” So what will they discover next?