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Latitude: 50.0942 / 50°5'39"N
Longitude: -5.1792 / 5°10'45"W
OS Eastings: 172713
OS Northings: 26411
OS Grid: SW727264
Mapcode National: GBR Z6.B4NT
Mapcode Global: FRA 081R.N4C
Entry Name: Merthen
Listing Date: 10 July 1957
Last Amended: 17 June 1988
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1142128
English Heritage Legacy ID: 66023
Location: Constantine, Cornwall, TR11
Civil Parish: Constantine
Traditional County: Cornwall
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall
Church of England Parish: Constantine
Church of England Diocese: Truro
SW 72 NW CONSTANTINE
(formerly listed as Merthen Farmhouse)
Manor house. Dated 1575, although it may be earlier; altered in circa early to mid
C19 and again in C20. Cement washed shale rubble with granite dressings, partly
roughcast at rear. Grouted scantle slate roof, replaced on rear slope with asbestos;
red clay ridge tiles and some old crested ridge tiles reused over adjoining cartshed.
The main range roof is gable-ended to the right and half-hipped to the left and the
rear wing is gable-ended. Dressed granite lateral stack at the front of the right
hand end with a moulded cap. Roughcast brick axial stack towards the left end and
over the rear wing.
Plan and Development: The plan of the existing house is basically L-shaped. The
main front (north west) range has a single depth 3-room plan, the ground at the left
end is lower. Between the right hand room and the centre room there is a large 2
storey porch to the entrance of the former through passage, (Henderson page 117).
The room to the right of the entrance is the hall heated from a lateral stack at the
front; it has a chamber above, but may have been originally open to the roof; the room
to the left of the former passage was probably the parlour (Henderson page 116); and
there is a third room at the extreme left end both heated from a shared axial stack
with back-to-back fireplaces. This stack appears to be a later brick insertion but
the long 3-room plan wing at the rear of the left end room may be integral since
there appear to be no external masonry joints. It was probably a service wing.
There was apparently another wing (L. Trefusis Vyvyan) which returned at the end of
the rear wing to form a rear courtyard, but this has been demolished. There was
possibly also originally a forecourt as well as a rear courtyard (Henderson page
116). This may have been the form of the house in the mid C16 when Merthen was
depicted with towers on a chart of the south coast of England of about 1545 (in BM)
and Leland in 1538 described the house as a "ruinous manor place". Therefore the
date 1575 on the porch may not refer to a complete rebuilding by John Reskymer but
actually a reduction and remodelling of the old house.
In the early to mid C19 the house was remodelled again and the rear left hand wing
was raised and remodelled to become the new garden front facing north with access
from the old entrance passage via a corridor created behind the former parlour. The
early to mid C19 main staircase may have been situated in the square 'tower' in the
inner angle with the rear wing. In the C20 the partition on the higher right side
of the passage was moved to the right reducing the old hall and creating a wide
stairhall, a single storey wing was built behind the new stair hall and hall and the
range along the back of the courtyard was demolished.
Exterior: 2-storeys. Long asymmetrical 4-window north west front. To the right of
centre a large 2-storey hipped roof porch with a hallow chamfered 4-centred arch
granite doorway with stylised fern-leaf spandrels and a moulded label with quatrefoil
stops; over the doorway the Reskymer arms (Reskymer impaling St Aubyn) in Beerstone
with the date 1575 defaced, and above that a 3-light hollow-chamfered 3-light granite
mullion window. To the right of the porch the hall stack is flush with the front
wall. To the right of the stack the hall window and the window to the chamber above
in a small gable both of 4-lights have hollow-chamfered mullions and a king mullion.
At the left lower end the windows are symmetrically disposed towards the right, the
front wall immediately to the left of the porch and the lower left end is blank
without windows; they are 3-light hollow chamfered granite mullion windows, the
ground floor with hoodmoulds, the lintel of the left hand ground floor window appears
to have been raised and the first floor right hand window has flat chamfered mullions
and jambs and may be an insertion to give symmetry to this part of the house.
The rear south east elevation is much altered but retains its old hall window to the
left, similar to that at the front, and a small circa early C18 6-pane casement
above. The other windows are asymmetrically arranged and have C20 casements. To the
left of centre the single storey C20 wing has a hipped roof. To the right the long
rear wing has a hipped roof addition in the angle which may have been a stair tower,
in the angle of which is another small C20 addition and a C20 porch. At the end of
the wing a single storey open-ended cart-shed with a half-hipped scantle slate roof
with some old reused crested ridge-tiles.
The north east elevation (outer side) of the rear wing has early to mid C19
fenestration of three 2-storey hipped roof canted bays with 8:12:8 pane sashes,
except for the right hand first floor which has a 6:9:6 pane arrangement. Between the
centre and left hand bay there is a doorway with a C20 door and overlight and an
early-to-mid 16-pane sash above.
Interior: The inside has been much altered, probably in the early to mid C19 and
again in the C20. The C20 interior alterations are very extensive and the only
exposed feature to have survived apart from the roof structure is the hall fireplace
which has a granite lintel, its soffit cut away leaving only a short section of
chamfer, and its jambs have also been rebuilt. There is a mid C19 Devon marble
chimney-piece in the lower end room and there is one early to mid C19 moulded
doorcase at this end.
Roof: The 3 trusses at the lower end of the hall have notched or dovetail halvings
for lap-jointed collars which are missing; one reused principal has a mortice for the
collar and all 3 trusses have mortices in the principals far threaded purlins.
The truss over the porch is similar but has trenched purlins. The principals have
straight feet. The 2 later trusses over the higher end of the hall have collars
lapped and pegged to the face of the principals. The lower left end roof is similar,
but the collars are halved and lapped to the face of the principals and the purlins
Historical note: Merthen has been held by the Vyvyans of Trelowarren since the C17,
but it was formerly the seat of the Reskymers. In the Cll it was part of the manor
of Winnianton and therefore not mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was held by the
Crown. In 1225 Henry III made his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall and gave him
Winnianton which he exchanged with Gervase de Tintagel for Tintagel Castle. In the
early C15 Merthen eventually passed to Ralph Reskymer and it is generally thought
John Reskymer and his wife Grace built the present house in 1575 because of their
arms over the entrance, but that may refer to a remodelling of that time. John
Reskymer died in 1617 and Grace in 1627. In 1629 Merhen was sold to Sir Francis
Vyvyan of Trelowarren.
Source: Charles Henderson. A History of the Parish of Constantine in Cornwall.
pages 88 to 123.
V.M. and F.J. Chesher. The Cornishman's House. pages 50 and 51.
L. Trefusis Vyvyan, unpublished notes.
Listing NGR: SW7271326411
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