The Book of Spoure Chapel Holy Well? 1815 Proposed Alterations

1854 Trebartha Bible 1870 Temperance Festival 1930 Trebartha Hall Staff Knowles Family

Images Sale & Demolition Jim Edward's Recollections SS Trebartha

A newspaper article written in 1880 suggests that the property was owned by Walter Reynell in 1193. He was recorded as the castellan (governor) of Launceston Castle in 1189. If he also occupied the estate, this indicates that the family who came to be known as Trebartha occupied the estate after that date.

Trebartha Hall has been the seat of four landed families in North Hill parish over the past 800 years.

  • Trebartha - the 1200s to the late 15th century.
  • Spoure – late 15th century to 1730.
  • Rodd – 1730 to 1940.
  • Latham – 1940 to present

Trebartha Hall

Click on the link above to see images from Robert Latham’s illustrated talk on the history of Trebartha Hall.

The book “Trebartha - The House By The Stream” by Bryan Latham (Hutchinson Press, 1971) describes the history of the house, the estate, the hamlet and the families that have lived in the area. Although long since out of print, there are copies available online but they can be expensive because they are rare.


Trebartha Hall in The Book of Spoure

In 1694 Edmund Spoure, the owner of Trebartha Hall at that time, wrote "The Book of Spoure" in which he included two contemporary images of the house and are the earliest representations of the house that have survived. It is believed that Edmund painted these scenes, one showing the house in detail with the family arms over the main entrance, and the other in its setting, possibly viewed from Hawk's Tor..


Chapel at Trebartha Hall

There once exisited a chapel at Trebartha Hall. It was recorded by the celebrated linguist, naturalist and antiquary, the Welshman Edward Lhuyd on his trip to Cornwall in 1700. The chapel can be seen in the two images above, to the left of the main building.

Derek Williams, a researcher into Lhuyd’s travels writes: “One of the many subjects that Lhuyd gathered information about was chapels (mostly pre-Reformation). In his notes for North Hill (Bodleian MS. Rawlinson D997, fol. 19r), he wrote: 'A chappel lately created call'd Trebartha chappel. not consecrated'. I assume this was the domestic chapel demolished c. 1730 by Francis Rodd, the remains of which Edward Stanhope Rodd thought could still be seen in 1923”. Derek refers to the letter to Western Morning News regarding the Holy Well.

According to the book “Trebartha - The House By The Stream” by Bryan Latham, it was probably built by the Trebartha family at some point before the 16th century. Edmund Spoure (1654-1696) maintained it during his lifetime. Francis Rodd demolished it in his time at Trebartha (1729-1736).


A Holy Well at Trebartha?

In the grounds of Trebartha Hall is a well or spring which was the subject of a letter, shown here, sent by Edward Stanhope Rodd to the Western Morning News and was published on 27 June 1923.

Edward Rodd mentions pictures in the “Spoure Book” in The Trebartha Library, 1600. The images, shown above, are dated around 1694 and the well is not obvious. Given the proximity of the chapel to the river it would seem that it would be close by.


North Hill has the Holy Well of St Torney on the River Lynher,.


Proposed alterations to Trebartha Hall in 1815

Alterations which were proposed in 1815 to Trebartha Hall were never carried out but an impression of how the building was to look can be seen by clicking on this image.


1854 Trebartha Bible

The cover of this bible along with the signature of Major Rodd can be seen by clicking on the image.


1870 Grand Temperance Festival at Trebartha


1930s - Trebartha Hall Staff Photograph


Trebartha's Woodlands and Sawmill - Featuring Mr William Knowles

Extracted from "Trebartha - The House By The Stream" by Bryan Latham

.. chapter - Trebartha in War Time

.. p145 - " ... September 1940 to September 1941 shows a variety of problems ... Mr Knowles reports that the ram the military have installed in the ponds to increase their water supply will cause an overflow, to our detriment."

.. p149 - " ... Meanwhile the question of an adequate water supply to Trebartha Farm, the village and the mill cottages was exercising the minds of both Mr Knowles and myself ... by industriously probing the hillside Mr Knowles and myself found the true source of water to be a spring some distance up the hill above the two existing troughs ... A working party consisting of the agent, the local surveyor, the plumber, Mr Knowles and myself was set up to take all necessary steps ... we built a reservoir to hold 3000 gallons of beautifully clear spring water. (My wife says it makes the best tea of all!) At the conclusion of the task Mr Knowles and I felt we had done a good job of work and were justified in inscribing our initials and the date on the wall."

.. chapter - Wood For War

.. p152 - "When we bought Trebartha and its woodlands we had no definite plans as to how the timber would be worked ... Mr Knowles, a local timberman, had cruised the woods and plantations with the result that there was a specification in existence ... Several days later I met a middle-aged, medium-sized man with a clipped moustache and the healthy, ruddy complexion of the true countryman. Mr Knowles told me that he had been employed in home-grown timber in south-west England all his life. On putting my problems to him, the immediate response was that we should install our own sawmilling plant on the estate, as he knew the estate sawmill was centrally placed and he knew the buildings were sound ... After a moment's consideration I asked him if he would install and manage such a sawmill for us. I could see he was dying to say 'yes' then and there, and he actually said he would consult his wife and write to us in a few days. Well, inside a week Mr Knowles did write offering his services and after settling terms we immediately engaged him. I would like to say this is a decision we never regretted, he was a very practical man who knew all about home-grown timber and we worked together harmoniously for many years."

.. p154 - "Mr Knowles, who was living at Boyton, some twenty miles away, was finding the journey onerous on his petrol allowance ... we managed to install him in one of the converted mill cottages down the lane by the bridge over the Lynher. Like all of us, Mr & Mrs Knowles came to love Trebartha and spent many happy years in their new home."

- p156 - " .. [the] Director of Home Grown Timber Production persuaded the Ministry of Labour to allow a branch of the WLA [Women's Land Army] to be recruited to work in sawmills ... the girls soon became popularly known as 'lumberjills' ... Trebartha recruited six of the girls and billeted them amongst the farms ... as there was a shortage of bathrooms at Trebartha at the time, Mrs Knowles kindly allowed her bath at Mill Cottage to be leased out to bathers twice weekly!"

- p156 - "It was my custom to spend a long week-end every month or so at Trebartha, staying at a local inn to consult with Mr Knowles on fellings, sawmill production and orders. Frequently on Sunday mornings we would go for a tramp through the woods to see how felling was progressing and plan future operations."

- p158 - "The lady commandant in charge of the sawmill girls' section of the Women's Land Army visited us regularly to supervise the welfare of our 'lumberjills' but ours were a happy lot with good billets. Mr Knowles was very good at arranging suitable work for them, well within their capacity, whilst Mrs Knowles was always going out of her way to provide social amenities."

- p158 - "By the winter of 1944 the end of the war was in sight, orders for low quality wood became more difficult to obtain and we concentrated on felling high quality trees ... there was no question of discharging any men because we were woefully short of labour. Mr and Mrs Knowles who had fallen in love with Trebartha, applied for a longer tenancy on Mill Cottage and lived there for many more years.By now Mr Knowles had established his daily routine of taking an evening stroll round the Swan Pool and Gardens. He was always to be seen with his thumb stick and ready with a story of what he had seen - traces of badger, or a flight of wild duck."

- p158 - "Mr Knowles and I both now began to take a careful look at the shape of things to come, we neither of us wanted to spoil beautiful Trebartha by leaving bare hillsides all too visible, so we began to study the landscape carefully. We decided that the American Garden be left intact and the fine Douglas Fir on the terrace above Lemarne Cottage. Also a fringe of trees on both sides of the Moor Road. Enough trees must be left around the manor house to give it background. Above all we wanted to preserve the wooded aspect of the Lynher Valley ..."

- p178 - "About 1950 the Estate ceased to fell timber for sale ... and we considered closing down the sawmill ... Mr Knowles, the manager, expressed a wish to rent it and work it on a limited basis, drawing his trees mainly from windblows ... besides making local sales he produced excellent gates of which a large agricultural estate requires a considerable number every year."

- p178 - "In the early 1960s Mr Knowles, owing to anno domini gave up the sawmills although he continued to take a great interest in the woodlands for the rest of his life. Every evening he took his walk around the Swan Pool; he and his wife really loved Trebartha. One summer he was taken on a motor tour of the Scottish Highlands, but it was wasted on Mr Knowles. At every scenic viewpoint he would say 'very nice, but we can do better at Trebartha'."

William and Ruth Knowles in 1961 - in this image he was not wearing his customary bowler hat.
(photograph courtesy of John Pitt, great nephew of William and Ruth)

From John Pitts (ONS GOONS 1743 ) to North Hill Local History Group, 4 January 2017:

“ … my great aunt & uncle Mr & Mrs Knowles … lived until Ruth's death many years ago at Trebartha where Ruth's husband worked the woodland below the moor on the local estate. Ruth was married twice but her husband died in the WW1 and her only son Maurice died in WW2 . He was a journalist in Cornwall but joined up into DCLI but transferred to the Marine Artillery. He was sunk by a German U-boat in November 1942. Mr Knowles used a horse to work the timber and I have the horse head brass on my wall … They lived in a tiny cottage near the river … “

Based upon this communication and further assistance from John Pitts and Nick Deacon the lives of William, Ruth and Maurice have been researched and recorded above.


Images of Trebartha Hall

The building that stands at Trebartha Hall today was built in the second half of the 20th century. During World War Two the previous building had been used by the military and was not left in a viable or habitable condition. The old building, shown in the images below, was demolished and a new one built.

Click here to open a pdf file with larger versions of these images of Trebartha Hall.

Trebartha Village - 1908

These images have been reproduced with the kind permission of the 'Launceston Then!' website and the Moyse family.


Sale and Demolition of Trebartha Hall

In anticipation of the sale of Trebartha Hall an auction of some of the household goods was held. Click on the auction advertisement to see what was put up fo sale.

Trebartha Hall’s history was described in this newspaper article of 1949, when the building shown above was demolished.

Click to read the article (2.5mb).

“The Cornishman” newspaper of 5th February 1880 carried a report on the “Ancestry of The Late Mr Edward Hearle Rodd”, following his recent death. It explained some of the history of Trebartha Hall and the Rodd family.


It All Began With A Duck Race by Jim Edwards

Local historian Jim Edwards has provided us with some of his recollections and research. You can read his thoughts by clicking on this image.


SS Trebartha

The SS Trebartha was a 4½ thousand ton cargo carrying steamship built in 1920 by John Readhead & Sons Ltd of South Shields for the Hain Steamship Company of Hayle in Cornwall.  Attacked by German aircraft on the 11th November 1940 she sank the following day near Aberdeen.

The story of the attack and the sinking of SS Trebartha and her sister ship, with significant loss of life, has been faithfully researched by the Deeside Sub Aqua Club. Click on the link to read the story.

The Hain Company had a large fleet of ships they named after Cornish places starting with "Tre". Click on the link to see the list. There would appear to be no association with Trebartha beyond the place name in Cornwall but apparently there was a picture of Trebartha Hall in the ship's smokeroom.

A much larger vessel, given the same name by the Hain Company was launched in 1962. The Hain Company were absorbed by P&O and this later vessel was eventually sold and broken up after significant service.


The image at the top of the page shows Trebartha Hall, probably in the early 1900s.