1. General History


The name “Feock”

The earliest known record of Feock is found in a twelfth-century document in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where the settlement is referred to as “Fioc”. Other spellings, in ecclesiastical documents, include “Feocko” and “Feoko”. These later spellings are assumed to be due to the priest based at the time at Glasney College, Penryn. Such priests were Latin‑speaking clerks, writing in Latin names they heard spoken in Cornish. The French historian Joseph Loth considered that Saint Feock migrated to Brittany to become known there as Saint Maeoc. (CN, January 2005)

The name of the parish is based on the name of an Irish saint, Fioc or Feoca, about whom little is known. There is a local tradition that Saint Feock lived in a small hut near a well [which still exists] in the area named “La Feock” [also known as “La Vague”] ... Feock occurs as “Ecclesiam Sancte Feoce” in 1264. (GENUKI, ibid.)

The name “Restronguet”

Craig Weatherhill, author of Cornish Place Names and Language (Weatherhill 1995) gives the following interpretation of the name Restronguet: “r'STRON-get”, from the M[iddle] C[ornish] “res troen goys”, meaning“hillspur with a promontory wood”. Curiously, the name seemingly retains the hard ending of the Old Cornish word “cuit”, meaning “wood”. (The Cornish language remained vernacular in this area until the mid seventeenth‑century; there are no certain dates for the periods of so‑called ‘Old’ and ‘Middle’ Cornish.) (PT)

Restronguet Point is commonly referred to by some of the older residents as “Strongwitch” or “Strong wind” and the narrow stretch of water between Restronguet Point and Restronguet Weir as “Strongwitch Gut” or “Marble Head”. (BF)

Maps from CDC Community Planning Local Plans Team

Sites and Monuments Record

 

Cornwall Historic Landscape Character Types

Historic Landscape Character Types, 1994

 

Photographs of The Point since 1900

Restronguet Point 1900

The end of The Point (“Marble Head”), c.1900.

Restronguet Point 1961

A northwest view of the Point in 1961, showing limited development especially at its northern end.

Restronguet Point 2005

The Point in 2005.

The end of the Point, September 2009.

Google Earth

google earth

© Google 2007, The Point, (Ref TR3 6RB)

Eye Altitude 769m

Pointer       50° 11’48.98”N
Pointer         5° 03’25.28”W
Elevation 0m Streaming 100%

Comparison between maps from 1815 and the present day

Restronguet comparison maps

The map above left, held at Trelissick and dated c.1815, is entitled “The Plan of the Manors, Estates and Premises in the Parishes of Feock, Kea and St. Just belonging to R. A. Daniel Esq., of Trelissick”.

The map on the right a copy of the Ordinance Map of the present day.

Tenants of Mr Daniell’s land on The Point at that time included those with the names Stephens, Looweartha, Harracrack and James Williams. The lane on this map ends approximately three quarters of the way down to the end of The Point. The small rectangular outline on the western shoreline of The Point (forming part of the green perimeter on OS map extract above) is Marble Head Quay. The small lane which connected the quay to the roadway opposite Laundry Cottage is not shown, but still exists as an access to ChyaenaGarth and Bodelvan. Beyond Marble Head Quay, a footpath which gave access to the end of The Point is now closed.

Two centuries ago, when roads were unmade, the quay would have been well used for the transport of goods by water, to and from The Point. The lane, now a CCC Highway, continues almost to the end of The Point and then continues in the form of a CCC registered footpath. It is bounded mainly by traditional Cornish hedges, low gates and grass verges. From Harcourt, a lane, which later becomes a footpath, leads to the Penpol boatyard. This boatyard is still operational, but outside the area under consideration.

Buildings of architectural or historical interest

These are the three Grade 2 listed buildings on The Point. 

The Clockhouse

The Clockhouse at Porthgwidden, courtyard and kitchen garden walls.

 

Harcourt Farm

Left: Harcourt Farm House, garden wall and gatepiers to north.

Right: Marble Head Quay.

Porthgwidden

Porthgwidden, built in 1829 by Edmund Turner, a Truro MP.

The name, meaning the ‘White Haven’ is mentioned as early as 1248 but the first reference to the house is in 1829 when it is described as ‘newly erected’. In 1840 it was described as a’ Spacious and elegant Mansion, late residence of Edmund Turner, M.P., with a productive garden, orchard, meadow and arable land, delightfully situated……. eligible site for marine villas. The house with about 8 acres of walks and pleasure gardens.

It was bought in 1842 with the land on the south-east side of the road to Restronguet Point by John Phillpotts. He was the brother of the Bishop of Exeter (whose diocese included both Devon and Cornwall), a barrister and M.P. for Gloucester for 17 years.

Tom Phillpotts his son, was born in 1806 and was ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1830. In 1844 he became vicar of Feock and moved to Porthgwidden.
When he moved to Feock he found that the church was in a rural area and that many of his parishioners were in the growing port of Devoran, two miles away; so in 1847 a Church School was built there (with the aid of the National Society and subscriptions) and it was licensed for services. At the same lime the Feock School was rebuilt.

At some time, probably earlier when the family was at home, the house had been considerably enlarged and the stable block erected, (the clock tower is dated 1855).
Part of Parc-an-gollan and the Treefield were turned into a large walled garden and a range of glasshouses was built in it. (This may have been after the arrival of Mr Cross the gardener in 1869). Cottages above Loe Vean were acquired from the Gilberts and remodelled. The one standing back from the road (now called Gunfield Lodge) has a tiled inscrip6on let into the end wall, ‘T.P. 1875’. Both cottages were divided into two and the one on the road is said to have been occupied by the gardeners. Mr Cross must have had a considerable staff under him to tend the extensive and well laid out grounds. After Tom Phillpott’s death a choice collection of orchids together with stove and greenhouse plants were sold and were listed in the Gazette of October 2, 1890. There was a goldfish pond. A boat house was built near the beach,

In 1890 Tom Phillpotts was seriously ill and went to Newquay hoping to benefit from the change of air, but he became worse and in June was brought back to Porthgwidden. At his special request, he was driven round the Cathedral on his way home. He died on Saturday July 20 and was carried to his grave in Feock churchyard on the 22nd, followed by his family, the clergy and choir of the Cathedral and by many other mourners. On the following Sunday tribute was paid to him at the Cathedral services; in the evening the Bishop preached his memorial sermon. ‘A Life of Service’. His grave is unmarked but the Lychgate at Feock commemorates him and his thirty years’ work as vicar there.

Porthgwidden was left to his daughter Emma (Mrs A. Tremayne) and her children and they let it to a series of tenants. In 1891 the Hon. John Boscawen lived there while Tregye was being enlarged; in 1896 Mr and Mrs H. Bolitho occupied it; a few years later Mr W.H. Spotiswood lived in it and laid out a private golf course in the fields between the gardens and Laundry Cottage and beyond to the Point.

Between I908 and 1919 the Trefusis family, including Lady Mary, who did so much for the British Folk Dance Society, now the The English Folk Dance and Song Society were the tenants.

At some period a generator was installed at the Harcourt Home Farm and electricity was conveyed to the house and to Laundry Cottage through heavy underground cables. (In 1910 Henry Edward was the electrician at Trelissick and may have undertaken the work).

Between 1923 and 1930 Mr and Mrs K. Neale were the owners and Polgwynne was built in part of the grounds.

Mr Barry Simpson of Devoran writes, “1 once had a conversation on Porthgwidden with Jack Neale, whose family lived there before 1935. I believe that they were ship-owners in South Wales. He told me that, when his father sold the property he imposed a running covenant to the effect that there should be no further building to the west of the house. He didn’t say who was instrumental in having this removed”.

In 1935 it had passed to Mr and Mrs K. Holman and during the 1939-45 war they made it a centre for local Red Cross activities.

Mrs Holman sold the property in 1956 and applications for development were made. A change of use to a nursing home received conditional permission but an application for a hotel was refused.

In May 1961 the conversion of the house into flats was agreed. This was started by Mr B. Burton, who sold to Lt..Col. D.F. Grant who completed the conversion in 1971.

Before this the stables and Coach house had been converted into Clock House, which includes the walled garden with the fishpond and the magnificent camellia and magnolia, all of which may date back to the Rev. Tom Phillpotts.

Dr George W. Lee O.B.E. set up a consortium of the leaseholders and undertook the onerous negotiations, now made easier by law, resulting in the purchase of the freehold by the leaseholders with the formation of the company which now runs the house and grounds. He was its first Chairman and remained so from 1975 until September 1990. During that time much was accomplished by way of bringing the house and grounds into its present good state.

Dr Lee died aged 87 in February 1993, having lived at Porthgwidden longer than anywhere else. People tell that they remember him for his gentlemanly behaviour and how he always raised his hat to the ladies! He was generous, courteous and impeccably honest. Porthgwidden Estate Ltd. was incorporated on June 18 1974.
Much restoration work has been carried out on the house itself; the grounds which were neglected have been restored to some semblance of their former glory.

The present owners are intent that this gracious residence, set off by its terraces and parkland with views over Carrick roads, shall in these changing times, retain as much as possible of the original character.

(Extract from, and refer  to page 61 of the”Feock with Devoran and Carnon Downs in the 19th Century”.for a complete list of references)

The Old Barn to Porthgwidden Farm
(previously known as Harcourt Home Farm)

Two views of the Old Barn, Porthgwidden Farm, Harcourt, converted to a dwelling in 1973. (Painting by Peter Mansfield)

Left: Two views of the Old Barn, Porthgwidden Farm, Harcourt, converted to a dwelling in 1973 (painting by Peter Mansfield). Right: The former Porthgwidden Farm buildings, now the site on which Creekview is built (photograph by Ray Archer).

Found in the Old Barn at the time of its conversion to a dwelling in 1973 were the remains of a mechanism involving gear wheels. This suggested that grain milling might have taken place there, perhaps powered by the generator. The remaining land occupied by cowsheds, pigsties and paddocks was sold as a plot for a dwelling, now Creekview. (TR)


At the end of the Second World War there were only five or six stone cottages and a handful of residences on The Point. Contemporary house building began in the mid 1950s and continues to the present day, although the availability of new building land is almost exhausted. The area most in demand in Cornwall for high quality house development is now the community of Rock on the North coast and adjacent coastal villages. Over the last few years five post-war dwellings have been demolished on The Point, some to be replaced by larger structures with enlarged footprints. (JBC)

The Point was one of the most attractive and desirable locations to be found in Cornwall and would be expected to attract architectural designs of the highest quality. However, not one postwar dwelling on The Point has been listed as being a building of architectural interest.


The History of Housing on The Point

There are eighty or so domestic dwellings on The Point, including the flats within Porthgwidden. Some of these are of original traditional stone construction, including several cottages which have been modernised. One of the earliest recorded dwellings, from the late eighteenth century, is Harcourt Farm House, now a Grade 2 listed building. The remaining buildings on The Point are mostly post 1945.

Housing

Rosmerrin (1930) and a view of Harcourt from the Pandora Inn, Restronguet Creek.

Rosmerrin was built for William Polglaze in 1930. It features a flat roof and is in the style of several houses of unusual design built in or near St Ives and Carlyon Bay around the same time. It was later sold, the new owner  built a large greenhouse beside it for his market gardening business. This in turn was partly converted to a garage. The property also included a boathouse on the Creek, now part of Parc Minys. (RB)

Housing

The Boathouse. From left to right: the original building and the present building (2006)

Mr John Harding a former resident during the war advised that The Boathouse was built soon after the Second World War as a two storey structure. With a flat above the boathouse, a large slipway, a winch, and a small outdoor swimming pool washed by the tide. It was sold by Jeremy Fry (refer to Former Distinguished Residents) in 1970 to a Mr and Mrs Highwood, who commissioned the design by John Crowther for the flat roofed two storey house constructed over the original boathouse.


 Panoramas and views

Looking towards the Carrick Roads from Porthgwidden, c.1840 (from Edward Twycross, Mansions of England and Wales, London 1846)

Looking towards the Carrick Roads from Porthgwidden, c.1840
(from Edward Twycross, Mansions of England and Wales, London 1846).

The panoramic views from The Point are magnificent. To the south and southeast, the rising of the sun; to the southwest and west, the midday sun; and to the west and northwest, the afternoon and evening sun. In inclement weather, however, those properties exposed to the southeast and west can suffer from strong winds.

Those properties facing south enjoy the long view to St Just and Mylor and to the mouth of the Fal and Restronguet Weir, whilst those facing west enjoy views of the Pandora Inn and Restronguet Creek.

View from the ninth hole on the Porthgwidden golf course, c.1910, now part of the lower garden of Bellevue. (Photo JC)

View from the ninth hole on the Porthgwidden golf course, c.1910, now part of the lower garden of Bellevue.


American Servicemen stationed at Restronguet Point

Restronguet Point was the home to some 25 American servicemen in the spring of 1944, to protect Falmouth Harbour and the Carrick Roads from low flying german aircraft. They manned two gun emplacements, first unit was equipped with an anti aircraft gun and the second unit with a machine gun, sited on the two present lay- byes almost opposite and below Carlys and Farther Down.

The establishment of the gun sites took in the field below the lay byes for the latrines. The accommodation tents and the bell tent used for communal activities together with the timber cookhouse were located in aplot on the opposite side of the road. Following the demolition of the cookhouse, some of the timber, which was in short supply at the time, was used in the construction of the original roof to Parc Minys.

Terry Blackburn and his brothers operated the ferry to the Pandora, when they were available. The Americans also acquired a punt, which they gave to the Blackburn family when they left. The brothers rowed the Americans over to the Pandora, and were well rewarded with sweets, gum and fruit, which were almost unobtainable in this country at the time.

Mr. Blackburn remembers the bombing of the Falmouth docks and the machine gunning of fishermen within Restronguet Creek. He also remembers the several bombs that exploded in Harcourt Field and the bomb which landed to the rear of the garden of Tremanor. A stick of bombs exploded in Restronguet Creek on the old mine bank after an aborted attempt to bomb the docks.

(Terry Blackburn in discussion with JBC, November 2007).

(By email, JBC referred the reference to the timbers from the cookhouse being used in the roof to Parc Minys, to Commander Jonathan Rich and his wife, Marianne, the present owners, then on detachment to Washington, USA. His reply referring to the recent redesign of the property is reproduced below),

“No timbers were replaced in the roof so there may be originals there. I am not aware of what work was carried out by our predecessors who would have re-roofed before us.However, we did find at least one internal joist that was of extremely heavy construction and we assessed at the time that it must have come from the US encampment. There was no doubt that it was an original timber, it had the wrong dimensions for anything of the 70s or later and definitely looked 1940s era.I am certain there are others remaining and specifically none were removed during our renovation; as you are aware it is in our nature to be environmentally, historically and locally sensitive in all we do to our property and its surroundings”.

Mr John Harding, a resident on the Point at the time, then living at Steep Holm, now Harbour Lights remembers other timbers stored on the the decks of the barges attached to the three German submarines temporarily beached on the shore line within the Creek, in 1945 being recovered and stored in the pit for reuse within several properties on The Point.

He also remembers the direct hit by a bomb on the road to the Point some fifty yards above Laundry Cottage. The crater closed the road. A second bomb exploded on the shore rocks to the Carrick Roads to the south. (JBC, January 2009.)

Extracts from “A Child’s War in Cornwall”

reproduced by permission of the Author, John C. Harding, referring to German aircraft movements over the Point during the later stages of the WW2. Published by Rylands, 2010, £19.99, obtainable from the National Trust, Trelissick, and major booksellers.

The following extracts from the book refer in detail to the air activities on or near the Point. It should be remembered that The City Hospital in Truro was severely damaged, Penweathers Railway junction bombed, (I watched the bombs falling from the Dornier 18), and the Falmouth Docks severely damaged. The glow of the fires from the Blitz of Plymouth could be clearly seen from Truro. The squadrons of German bombers on route to South Wales could also be seen on a clear summers night from the ground. John Crowther, Editor).

Introduction.

Over sixty-five years have passed since we lived in Cornwall. I found myself leaning on the gate of the house where we lived — now called ‘Harbour Lights’ - but it was ‘Steep Holm’ when we lived there. Dad had named it after the island in the Bristol Channel where he had lived for a short while.
I looked out over the Fal Estuary, as lovely now as it always was; in many parts just exactly the same as the day we left. My mind drifted back over the years and I could almost hear the sounds of Glen Miller’s music drifting across the water from ships loaded with men and machinery waiting to cross the Channel, where they would take part in one of the most historic battles in history. Often we are asked “How can you remember events from so long ago?” The answer is quite simply, “We never forgot.”
John C. Harding

Page 58

We were heading towards Pennarow Point when we saw it, a seaplane, not more than five hundred yards dead ahead, it was very close in to the shore, dark in colour, and its engines were running.
Aircraft recognition was second nature to us, all schoolboys, and many girls, could identify an aircraft type at a glance. One passing through a break in the clouds was enough, friend or foe, fighter or bomber, it made little difference. Sometimes just the sound of its engines was enough, our lives could depend on it. But this seaplane, dark in colour with two engines, had no markings.

We were baffled, action and quick thinking was required, the Swordfish would not sail into the nearest shore, Mylor, because that was up-wind. Turning and getting out of there, going back the way we had come, was probably the best option, however, to do so faced the risk of stalling while turning, plus we would be side-on to the strange looking aircraft. There was only one option left, running downwind and making for a freighter that had been badly damaged and was aground off the St Mawes coast. We let out the sail, pointed her bow at the freighter and ‘ran with it’, keeping an eye on the mystery plane.

“A Catalina,” suggested Ted.
“The floats are different,” said John Salmon, the most knowledgeable aircraft buff. “Italian I’d say.”
The aircraft had a long canopy with a machine gun mounted; its motors were revving up. It turned, travelled out into the mouth of the estuary about three hundred yards or so, stopped for a little while then went back into the shore. Three or four minutes later it repeated the whole operation, moving out stopping then returning. Three times it did this then it finally turned, pointed out to sea and opened up its motors. Taxiing out into the open water she took off, flying at only twenty feet or so above the sea and finally disappearing from view. The sea plane was never positively identified, however, over the following days, pawing over our aircraft recognition books we believe it was a Heinkel He115.

 

Heinkel He115.

We were in a dilemma should we head for the shore and run to St Mawes find someone, anyone, who could telephone the authorities in Falmouth, whoever they were. Although we hadn’t seen any markings we were certain the seaplane was up to no good, that someone should be informed, but who? This was a time when ‘Careless talk cost lives’.

We had never been to St Mawes, the chances of seeing a policeman or a naval officer were, as far as we knew, slim. Added to which we had no shoes on. Picture it, three bare-footed boys, unknown to the locals, running around like headless chickens looking for, well, anyone who looked ‘official’, to tell them that the Germans had landed across the water at Mylor. I think not!

So we decided to row home as fast as we could, to where we were known. I must point out here that not one of us had ever used a telephone, and didn’t have any money. There were no 999 facilities then, and as far as we were aware not one house had a telephone installed. There were no chains of command, no, ‘if you see anything suspicious call this number or that number’. No, wind a handle tell the old biddy at the other end, that you are twelve years old, and that three of us had seen a German plane that could be laying mines in a shipping lane.

Most neighbours were polite and listened, one laughed. But we knew someone who would at least listen, Mr Ferris. A finer man would be hard to find; oyster trawler man in the winter time, mackerel fisherman in the summer, we had often spoken to him, and he to us, as equals. We helped him bring his day’s catch up the beach, often scrubbed oil off his white boat, and begged him to take us with him to the Manacles rocks fishing. The answer was always the same as given by the skipper of the Shamrock, “leave those waters to us old uns.”

Page 62
I haven’t an answer to the phenomenon that took place in August 1942, but here are the facts. We know that on the night in question there was a total eclipse of the moon. In the morning we were amazed to find the net spread out along the shore, high and dry, the anchor and mooring stone were still attached. Fish of all varieties filled every square foot, they had hit the net with such force that the net had been forced back over their bodies; usually they were held by the net just over the gills. It took a week of our spare time to remove the fish and repair the net; most of the catch was facing the same way.

So what caused it? Why did so many fish hit the net at high speed? We had often seen dolphins going up and down the channel but never had we seen them close in to the shore. We had seen a seal a number of times, its head just above the water, watching our antics. I have even thought of a miniature submarine practicing at night, close in to the shore, perhaps. We had seen commandos in camouflage-coloured kayaks close in, but they would hardly drive fish into what must have been a frenzy.

Did the Germans take advantage of a moonlit night with a period of known darkness to land an agent; and don’t be too quick to put this theory down as schoolboy imagination just yet.
We are left with one other possible cause that is worthy of serious consideration, the total eclipse of the moon. Were the fish disorientated by gravitation variations?
We didn’t hear the sirens, the sound of aircraft, or the explosions, which is not as strange as it sounds. We often heard bumps in the night, depth charges or heavy gunfire out in the Channel, and air raids on Falmouth. We were often disturbed by the sound of aircraft too, friend or foe, waking up and listening for a while, before pulling the bedclothes over our heads and going back to sleep.
However, the two bombs that fell that night were less than a quarter of a mile away. We ate our breakfast oblivious of the fact that windows had been broken in our garage by the blast from the two bombs.

On our way to school one or two locals were standing in the road as we approached. There it was a large crater, the centre of which was smack in the middle of the highway. If the bomb aimer had intended — for reasons best known to himself — to cut the lower part of Restronguet Point off from the rest of England, then he had hit the bull’s eye.
Of course it could be that a friendly aircraft returning from a mission had for one reason or another jettisoned their bombs, hence no sirens, but it was rumoured that several bombs had fallen into the estuary that night. We wished we had known as there could have been stunned fish out there for the taking.

We scouted around the perimeter of the crater. There was only just enough room to pass. Then up the hill to catch the bus to school. That was it really, a crater, a large hole in the road. We had all the shrapnel we wanted, the bartering rate for bomb bits was at an all time low, although shell nose cones were in big demand, as were live .303 cartridges, and leaflets dropped by the Luftwaffe.
On the way home that evening the crater had been filled in and the road reinstated. The workmen were packing up, but they informed us that a second bomb had fallen on the beach below the laundry.

 

Page 78.

It was about seven thirty in the evening — double summer time — when ‘it’ paid its first of many visits. We were in bed when the sirens at Falmouth sounded, followed by others in the area. Before the wailing sound had reached its third climbing note we were out of the front door, the four of us, Anne, Jean, Bob and me. We immediately recognized the ‘hunting’ sound of a German bomber’s engines, and there it was flying low over St Just in Roseland, heading up river. It disappeared from view, heading north, over Trelissick, very low, down over and towards the estuary, and skimming the sea, banked and headed towards us.

There was a low wall at the side of the house and we ran behind it, looking over the top. We watched as the aircraft passed in front of the house out of our sight, then ran to the other side and watched as it flew off over Greatwood House at Mylor, on the far side of the creek.
Mum, Dad, and our older sisters had a better view looking out of the kitchen window. It repeated its flight path exactly, before flying off out to sea.

About two weeks later, it could have been longer, the Junkers 88 returned; twice it circled, following the same route as before. Two or three weeks later it made another visit, each time, as the days became longer, later in the evening, always appearing about sunset. Mum and Dad said that the pilot waved to them as it passed by at sea level, the height of the aircraft and the kitchen window being the same.

Junkers, Ju 88

Who was he and what was the purpose of his daredevil sorties?
Rumours were rife, after all, never once was a bomb dropped, or cannon fired, and he was too low for photographic reconnaissance.

Mr Polglaze thought that the pilot had been a yachtsman before the war, had fond memories of the area, and returning from a bombing raid, diverted to the area he loved. But then Mr Polglaze would say that, he always saw the best in everything and everybody.

Our thoughts were that he was dropping supplies for a German agent camping out in the woods near the King Harry reaches. The Home guard, with loaded rifles, set up an ambush, while farmers had shotguns handy.

We waited to see if the pilot would wave to us, without success. However we were, in the not too distant future, to get our moments of excitement, and our German ‘friends’ in the Junkers would take a leading role.

Mary and June were returning from King Harry. They had passed Trelissick House and were taking a short cut across a field where they would rejoin the road to Feock, here they spotted a man on the far side of a copse. As they watched he moved a short distance, then took a pair of binoculars out from under his coat, and slowly scanned the estuary.




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