The House at Enys

The Enys Estate is situated between Penryn and Mylor in Cornwall. The name Enys, or ennis, in Cornish means an island or a tongue of land where two rivers meet. In 1824 Hitchens says, “ In the Cornish play, brought into Oxford in 1450,—–Enys and some other lands are given as a reward to the builder of the universe.” The family have lived here since the reign of Edward 1st.
The present, Grade II listed, house was built between 1830 and 1832 on the site of the Elizabethan house which burnt down in 1826. This had been built in the traditional E-shape and had the family Coat of Arms inserted into windows in the hall and parlour. Undamaged parts of the house were incorporated into the new. An earlier, pre-Tudor, house had existed elsewhere in the grounds but the exact location is unknown.

The house and its “fine gardens” were enlarged, in 1709, by Samuel  Enys. The cost was considerable.
Improvements continued over several years. Lists and prices of materials and their carriage to Enys in November 1720 cost £12.12s.6d but where they are to be used is not recorded. In 1721 Orphy Rogers was paid 10s for “cleaning and whitening the Parlor” and later £6.0s.6d for other work,  Dick Donnithorne was paid £5.11s for glass and work and J. Williams for materials and 8 dozen Dutch tiles and appears to be the foreman overseeing the workmen. Sam: Foote is reimbursed 5s. Which is money he paid women to carry stones to a boat.
In 1723 Justinian Buckingham of Truro, “Who is never to be employed again by Me”, cast and lay a large amount of Samuel’s own lead and charged him for it.  Samuel complains that he is charged 9d per pound for material used for gutters, pipes and cisterns but Curtis of Penryn charged 7d. It would appear he is also being charged for work done by his own servant Will. Wisdale.
Work continues between 1725 and 1745. The barn and oxen house were roofed in December 1728. In July 1730 payment was made for sharpening  the stonecutters tools used for the” moorstone designed for finishing the Front Peers”  and in August for “work chiefly about ye leaded Roome”. A new dairy was built in 1731. In October 1733 Simon Bolitho, a tanner, is paid £3.12.4d for hair for Enys and in November 1734 Tom. Edgecome, a tanner of Penryn, £1.1s “for Enys now building”.
John Verran of Penryn, and Stephen Woolcock are glaziers who worked at Enys at various times.
From September 1799 to January 1800 John Treloar builds a Barne House which cost £256 19s 10d. His account lists the daily pay of the workmen and boys and some of the work carried out.
On the 21st June 1800 John Enys pays Wm. Harvey & Son of Falmouth for work and supplies to farm buildings which includes “roofing hogshouses, a cattle feeding house, balk for the cart house, 4 gates to feeding house, 1 large window frame with oak cill, a 1½ inch fine plate lock, and another with the key cut to turn down.” The following year he pays them £209. 10.2d. mainly for wages for alterations and enlargement of the dining room including drawings and a mould for a “Plasterers  cornice”. Wm. Rogers is paid 3s.2d.a day for his work in the dining room. Later that year he is paid, together with S.Jago and G.Rickard, for more work to farm buildings.  Arthur Williams is paid for 43 feet of glass work.
There are only two references to the purchase of furniture. Two “mahoggany” tables were bought in November 1737 from Sam: George of Flushing. One cost £2 and the other £1.16s. Two small locks and 32 brass knobs for drawers were also purchased. In 1801 a marble chimney piece is brought from Plymouth.
Following the fire the architect Henry Harrison was asked to provide plans for the house and garden.
Articles required for building include sand, lime local and Abathaw lime, a superior quality lime, from South Glamorgan; spun yarn, stone, granite, pins for slating, hair, rope, timber, pitch, iron girders, bricks, Roman Cement and chimney tops. Lime was purchased from Mr. Fox, Sir Charles Lemon and Mr. Pellowe.   Some granite comes from St. Stephen.     
From August 1830 – November 1832 Peter Penprase is employed in building the new house on the site of the old one, incorporating undamaged parts/areas which remained. His account book lists the names of masons and labourers and their wages. His account was always paid in cash and frequently by Mrs. Enys. Initially Peter Penprase, Thomas Bunny, Robert Bunny, William Paul, Samuel Poad, Henry Matthews, Joseph Cardrew, William Mead, Hugh Trevena, James Jenkin and Thomas Bunny Junior were the masons employed and John Edwards, Abraham Dower, Thomas Lobb, William Downing and John Hellings the labourers. Other names are soon added.
At some stage an improved water supply was constructed to bring water, from supplies in the grounds, nearer to the house to have available in the event of another fire.
In 1939 plans were made to let the house, furnished or unfurnished, because Miss Elizabeth Enys had moved to a smaller property in the grounds. In 1940 the British Admiralty requisitioned the estate for the Royal Netherlands Navy to use as a training establishment for their officer cadets. It was no longer safe for them to remain in Holland. Although they did not anticipate a prolonged stay they remained until 1946, a year after the Netherlands were liberated.
In 1950 it became a Preparatory boarding school for 60 boys aged between 7 and 13 who were tutored for the Public Schools Common Entrance Examination. In addition to their academic studies they were encouraged to spend time in the open air. Sports were played and carpentry, woodcutting, gardening and hobbies encouraged. Personal reading time was also included in the daily activities. Dormitories, as well as the bathrooms, had hot and cold water. Central heating was supplied by a large boiler in the cellar.
There were six teachers, four men and two women. The Headmaster and his wife also taught. There was a sickroom and Matron and the school was registered with the local National Health doctor.
The fees were £50 a term with special rates for brothers and sons of Clergy and Officers of the Armed Forces.
The house has been unoccupied since the school closed and has deteriorated considerably. It is now only inhabited by five types of bat but work is in progress, in 2011, to renovate the building.
In July 1957 the house, including the adjoining service wing, Italianate clock tower, walls and gate-piers and the barn, coach-house and stables were granted Grade2 listing status by English Heritage.
Taxes and insurance.
There are several records of taxes, including window and hearth taxes, and of insurance. The numbers of windows varies from 24 to 65. In October 1724 Enys Land and Windows tax was £3.5s for the half year.
In November 1830 J.S. Enys paid insurance of £850 on “Farm Stock etc at Enys”. £120 was for the remaining part of Old Mansion house, other items and “sundry articles of old furniture therein”, £200 for a “stock of wood for the new house, part lying in the said old mansion house, part in the farm buildings, already insured, and part in the open air” and “Old sashes doors wainscoting and other old wood part of the old mansion house at Enys and left therein £30”. “Hay, Wheat, Barley Oats beans & peas lying in the rick yard at Enys £500”.
Armorial Bearings.
These were also taxed. In 1835 and 1840/41 they were £2 8s a half year.
The Coat of Arms in the windows consisted of three lizards/crocodiles  and is described as being four feet in length with a head and tail like a snake ,short and without wings. It has a spear in its mouth. There is a letter saying Enydris means an adder or Evet a water snake. [A dictionary definition of Evet is a lizard or newt].
Documents used   EN/1316/1, EN/1316/2, EN/1317, EN/1337, EN/ 1034, EN/1035, EN/1898
Pamphlet   t8333936 “Enys, Penryn, Cornwall”
Blom, V.J.L. (1992) Enys House 1940-1946 Bergen:Bonneville                                    [Gedenboek]
Borlase, William (1758) Natural History of Cornwall  Oxford:Borlase
Gilbert, C.S. (1820) An Historical Survey of Cornwall  Congdon
Hitchens, F. & Drew. S. (1824) The History of Cornwall, Volume 2 Helston:Penaluna
McCabe, Helen (1996) Houses and Gardens of Cornwall Padstow:Tabb
Polsue, Joseph (1974) Lake’s Parochial History of the County of Cornwall, Volume 2 Yorkshire:EPPublishing
Information obtained from:-
Cornwall Record Office
Cornish Studies Library
Courtney Library
Penryn Museum.



Back to top of page