History of Tehidy

The great manor of Tehidy was owned by successive Bassets as Lords of the Manor from Norman times until 1916. A mansion was built from 1734 at a time when the Bassets were enjoying high profits from their copper mines and extensive grounds – together with the first lake.

Important figures of the day dined and danced the nights away here and the great house became a symbol of wealth and power in the county. Influential mining engineers like Trevithick, Woolf and Hornblower – whose revolutionary technological developments went on to have international impact – first discussed their ideas at Tehidy.

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Peerage gained thanks to Cornish miners

In 1779 the combined fleets of France and Spain unexpectedly anchored off Plymouth where the city’s defences were woefully inadequate. The following year the then owner of Tehidy, Francis Basset, became a national figure and received his peerage as Baron de Dunstanville for marching his fit Cornish miners all the way to Plymouth where they made the marine fortifications safe.

Between 1798 and 1842, 400 acres of Tehidy land were cultivated to cater for an influx of miners who came to work the thriving 19th century copper mines. Cornwall’s first horse-drawn tramroad, transporting copper ore from Poldice to Portreath from 1809, was largely financed by Sir Francis Basset. When he died in 1835, 20,000 people gathered at Tehidy to process with his coffin and 150 carriages. The de Dunstanville monument was erected on Carn Brea in his honour.

Tehidy becomes one of the finest buildings in Cornwall

In 1855 Sir Francis’ nephew John Francis Basset took over Tehidy and he also prospered from the mines. He rebuilt the mansion to create one of the finest buildings then in Cornwall with 40 bedrooms and a lavish drawing room with a gold ceiling.

The end of Basset Rule

In 1916 the great manor was sold, ending 700 years of Basset rule. The house and estate was divided and in 1919 it opened as a hospital for the treatment of TB sufferers. A great fire devastated the building only two weeks after the hospital opened - one of a number rumoured to be the work of Tehidy ghosts.

In 1983 the grounds were purchased by Cornwall Council and developed as a Country Park. Part was leased to Tehidy Golf Club and part sold for the 1995 rebuilding and development of new houses around the central core of the original building.

Many thanks to The Cornish Studies Library at the Cornwall Centre, Redruth who kindly supplied the picture.