The more and more I fall in love with photography the more I find myself craving adventure and inspiration. In turn the vicious circle of reality often means that finding new subjects and scenes that appeal to photograph become harder to find.
Today was the first Sunday in almost 3 months where the rain God Zeus ran out of food
and went shopping. The clouds parted and the sun shone through and without a second thought I grabbed the camera and went for a walk. My wife mentioned to me that
there was an abandoned house house near us on the road opposite where we live although I had never seen or heard of such a place. She thought I maybe keen to snap a shot but I was more expecting to get a photo of a finch I could not picture the house that we stumbled upon.
Arriving up the hill we arrived at the font of the building and I was speechless, this impressive building had obviously been here for a long time but I had no idea of it’s existence.
Welcome to Tremorvah House in Truro! This empty grand building was once a popular visitor attraction back in the 1800’s when the gardens drew in crowds of people.
Nothing remains of the gardens now but the house still sits on over one and a half acres of land. Cornwall County archives hold records of the land in the 1820’s described tasteful gardens with a grotto a subterraneous entrance and fish pond.
The Gothic Victorian style manor house was built in 1845 by Sir Philip Prothero Smith as a private residence for himself and his new wife. This guy was the Mayor of Truro four times and the Under-Sheriff of Cornwall, how on earth have I never heard of him before I ask.
He seems to have contributed far more personally to Truro than that of Richard Lander. For those who don’t know Richard Lander was born in Truro a son of an inn keeper and spent many years in Africa plotting out the route of the river Niger where he died before his 30th birthday from an attack by tribesmen. To this day I still struggle to understand why we erect statues and name schools after the man where as this guy made 1.5 acres of land a public landscaped garden with his own home and we don’t even know his house still exists!
I climbed up onto the wall to peer over the wire fence to get a better viewpoint and chuckled at the sign pointing out 24 hour CCTV being monitored. Unless they have hung a CCTV camera from a branch of one of the not so fallen trees in the area I could not spot one.
As I perch on the top of the wall balanced to take this photo the words echo in my head from the Cornwall County archives “this place is well-known to be the greatest object of curiosity and admiration to strangers visiting Truro”.
I have since discovered that it’s now owned by the same group of hotel owners as the next door Alverton Hotel; recently in the news for it’s flammable event, and the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth.
It would make an amazing hotel or return to a private dwelling or commercial property but it has now been put on the open market. Like with most properties of such status and hefty price tag I doubt that any local bidders will be successful. Instead we’ll see some investor from the city buy this and turn into unaffordable flats or a private high priced spa that closes again within a year.
Amazingly the building looks like it’s styled differently from each side. From the main entrance a stately home greets you with a pointed porch a grand bell tower and grand iron gates to the right. From the road side huge turreted white bay windows that was impossible for me to get a clear view of yet from the rear the staircase and stonework looks more in keeping with a Cornish cottage.
As the sun fades the temperature drops and we start thinking of walking home. As we turn I spot one of the large trees that shield the building from view and can’t help but love the form of the twisting branches out of the ground.
Sometimes to keep interested and find new material to photograph you don’t always have to go as far as you may think.
Now I am keen to see if Cornwall has any other old historical buildings to go visit!! What’s on yours doorstep that no-one knows about yet?