Trebartha Hall has been the seat of the four landed families in North Hill parish over almost a thousand years, and perhaps longer:

·        Trebartha - early 1100s to the end of the 15th century. Read more …

·        Spoure – late 15th century to 1730. Read more ...

·        Rodd – 1730 to 1940. Read more ...

·        Latham – 1940 to present

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.


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

Staff of Trebartha

What year was this? Who is in the photo?

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

“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. Read more ...

1908 Postcard



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."

Trebartha Hall seen from across the Swan Pool

 - 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 wearling 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 Charles, Ruth and Maurice have been researched and recorded above; John will supply an image of the horse brass which will be posted here. William’s home, Mill Cottage, is shown on this map by the red dot.



You can read his recollections by clicking here.



PDF file: click here




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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.



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.

North Hill has the Holy Well of St Torney on the River Lynher and you can read more about that here.

Edward Rodd mentions pictures in the “Spoure Book”. You can see those pictures here.

The suggestion that this structure was a holy well is regarded as perhaps conjecture or even a flight of fancy on the part of Edward Rodd. Perhaps the story had been passed down to him through generations and became part of the family lore.

The structure is a hole in the ground, several feet across and deep which has been lined with granite slabs and has steps leading down to the granite floor. The structure is not dismilar to the one in nearby Middlewood which enabled local people to draw water. The analysis that this could be a spring, a well or even the crypt of an ancient chapel could easily be conjectured but no definitive statement upon its original use has yet come to light. It has been suggested that it could have been an ice house or a dairy building. The structure appears to be too old to be an ice house and perhaps too far from the main buildings to have had a dairy use.

Local historian Jim Edwards was given a guided tour by a member of the Latham family and has recorded his recollections: “Mr Latham took us across the fields to the fenced-in area – he explained that the object of curiosity was a ‘cool chamber’, which was situated just a few yards in front of the now demolished mansion house. At the bottom of the pit, in the floor of the chamber, is a spring, which enabled the contents of milk, butter etc to be kept cool on the shelves. Mr Latham explained that one of granites, which had a hole cut through it, was one of a pair of Toll Gate posts; a bar would have been placed through the hole until the toll had been paid. Another of the granites was a gravestone for a horse of which an original owner had been very fond. The other granites are not in good condition, but are recognisable as the remains of crosses.” This appears to be a reasonable pragmatic use for the structure, particularly so if the earlier mansion was located closer to this spring. [For more of Jim’s recollections on Trebartha and other matters, click here].

The original settlement at Trebartha may well have been nearer to a source of clean water than it is now, the landscape around the house has been modified and this included the canalisation of the river. In such a community there may well have been a small chapel near to the well serving the village. This, it is thought, would probably not have been built of stone but of wattle and daub and could date back to pre Domesday.

Whether it is a holy well or not is also a consideration but this also seems unlikely. Most holy wells are outside of chapels/churches although many, as at St. Clether, introduce the water into the chapel from the well house.

According to a member of the local dowsing group, there are no holy wells in North Hill parish other than that of St Torney’s. Higher Trefrize just out side the boundary with Lezant Parish is the nearest one. North Hill church stands on a site which probably had a special status in pre Christian times. This is especially so as the Michael/Mary line goes through the church and the well. A local dowser tells us “I have done some dowsing in the church and found among other things that before this present church was built the altar was further down the nave, so the church was quite small”.

The structure is now being used as a place to keep and display old pieces of carved stone found around the estate.

Do you have any images of the structure we could publish here? Please contact the webmaster, address at the foot of the page.



There once exisited an unconsecrated 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.

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, see above)

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). An image which appears to show the chapel, the building outside the walls on the left of this drawing, can be found in the Book of Spoure.


(reproduced by kind permission of Roger Pyke)

Click to open a pdf file.



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

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