Trereife Manor House
The present owner of Trereife, Tim Le Grice, descends from the first member of his family to live in Cornwall, a certain Charles Valentine Le Grice who was a friend and contemporary of Coleridge and many of the other romantic poets of the early 19th century. He came from Norfolk where the family had lived for generations. He arrived at Trereife in 1798.
This figure remembered simply as ‘C.V.’ came to the house in order to take up his position, as Tutor to William Nicholls who it transpired was the last male member of the Nicholls family to live at Trereife. This was after a number of generations as there are records of the Nicholls family living at Trereife since before the 16th Century. Originally they were farmers and having increased their lands over the years they had assumed the role of minor gentry.
One interesting member of the family to live there was a certain Frank Nicholls who was born in 1699. It was his father John Nicholls who worked to such good effect as a Chancery Barrister in London that he was able to return after just 14 years and arrange for the Queen Anne front to be built on the back of the Elizabethan farmhouse. This great improvement was completed in 1708 when Nicholls was a boy growing up at Trereife. Subsequently he qualified as a Doctor and specialised as an Anatomist before becoming Court Physician to King George II.
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Returning to ‘CV.’, he had just graduated in 1798 from Cambridge University and following his selection as Tutor to this young boy in the Far West he was said to have come to Cornwall ‘cutting Miss Hunt dead’. This was the sister of Leigh Hunt, a friend of ‘CV.’ and of many of the romantic poets. Whatever happened before he came to Cornwall romantically or otherwise, three developments occurred soon after ‘CV’ arrived.
First, he married Mary Nicholls the widowed mother of William the boy he was tutoring.
Secondly, he himself took Holy Orders but rather than take on a Parish because of his commitments at Trereife he assumed the role ‘Perpetual Curate’ at St Mary’s Chapel which was Penzance Church later in the century.
Thirdly, Williams Nicholls who needed a tutor in view of his bad health died in his 20’s and the estate then passed to his mother, Mary Le Grice as she had become who in turn left everything to her second son, Day Perry who was the product of her marriage to ‘CV’. Following these developments first Day Perry and then successive members of the Le Grice family have lived at Trereife which become their home although not without difficulty. Over the years particularly in recent years the restoration and preservation of Trereife House has become something of a ‘mission’ for the Le Grice family.
There have been particular vicissitudes not least the one which resulted in Trereife and the land around it being chosen a few years ago as the best site for the proposed new University of Cornwall, before this site was discarded in favour of the present site in Penryn. Now the House is opening its doors not to the University but to the Public. It remains the family’s intention that the House should never lose its basic warmth as a home.