What is a count house?

The count house was where the mine business used to be done. 	old image of the count house with an old botallack mine cart in foreground

Botallack is home to a count house, it's now rented accommodation and a holiday cottage, but has an interesting history.

What's a count house?

Most 19th-century mines had account houses, or 'count houses' to provide office space for the purser and his managerial staff. They were generally grander than other local buildings. As the public face of mining, they had to look refined as well as solid and prosperous in order to reassure investors and the world at large. A count house was principally the office from which the mine was run on a day-to-day basis; here the miners were paid and the rights to work or 'pitches' within the mine were auctioned on 'setting days'.

They were also the scene of renowned count house dinners provided for the adventurers (shareholders) on days where accounts were to be read and approved. Notoriously lavish and wild affairs in the early days, these dinners had become pale shadows of their former selves by the late 19th century, tempered by the cold winds of economy which were by then blowing through the mining industry.


The count house at Botallack was built around 1861 when the main produce of the mine was shifting from copper to tin, a more profitable product. The pond still found to the front of the house provided a supply of water for the dressing floors downhill, though nowadays it's half the size of the original.

Mining stopped at Botallack in 1895 at which point the count house was taken over by the Penzance school of Mines as a school of mine surveying. It was opened again and re-worked in 1906-1914 from Allen’s Shaft and the Count House reverted once again into the mine office.

Beyond mining

Commencing the start of the war in 1914 the building became a private house, hosting a folk club, disco and restaurant until it came into National Trust ownership in 1995.

The main count house is now rented accommodation and the outhouse to the right has been converted into a holiday cottage. The workshop contains a small exhibition and plenty of local information. The space can also be rented out for local clubs, societies, events and exhibitions. If you're interested in using the space please get in touch with one of our team at Levant.