Tregony History

Tregony’s geographical location was the prime reason for its historical importance. Its position on the higher reaches of the River Fal, some 15 miles from the sea, made it a very important and strategic inland port, when the river was tidal and navigable. It has been suggeted that the Phoenician and Roman traders sailed here and went even further up river in search of tin. It is probable that a settlement existed on the lower banks before

Tregony was really established. The port at the foot of the hill would have been an embarkation point for travellers to Brittany and possible pilgrims to Santa de Compostela in Northern Spain.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066 much was to change. In the course of time, the Manor of Tregony together with others in Devon, including Berry Pomeroy, was given to the Norman baronial family, the de la Pomerai’s. They were, between the 12th and 14th centuries accredited with having built:

  • Tregony Castle
  • St James Church, the Parish of St James Parish
  • A Priory and a Chapel
  • Tregony Bridge

And with having:

  • Developed the port and trade for ocean going ships
  • Gained a form of Borough status and authority from the King to open a market and fairs and to elect 2 burgesses to attend the Parliament

By the 16th century drastic changes were in the air. The River Fal, which had been Tregony’s lifeblood was silting up. Tin streamers and the natural shifting of the river made the port too shallow for ships to enter. After the port became unusable, industry suffered drastically and the area declined rapidly and never really recovered, although a cloth making industry did continue for many years and the Markets were a centre of trade for the Roseland area. Another casualty of the river was the Church of St James, which because of flooding and lack of repair was abandoned by 1549. The Church of St Cuby then became the mother church of the combined Parishes.

Queen Elizabeth I granted the privilege of reviving Tregony’s ancient right to send two burgesses to parliament. Two members of Parliament were so elected at each of the general elections up until 1832 when the Borough was disenfranchised.

A minor revival occured when political grace was shown to the Town in 1621 after
King James I, granted Tregony a Charter of Incorporation which gave it a Free Borough status and powers to elect a Corporation. The voting qualifications for persons within the Borough, in both local and general elections, were that they were householders of at least 6 weeks residents and were able to provide their own food and boil a pot, hence the term ‘a potwolloper’. Because of drunkenness, violence and blatant corruption in such Boroughs they became known as ‘Rotten Boroughs’ and were, including Tregony, disenfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832. Tregony lost its status after this as all the rich political backers lost interest and businesses and properties deteriorated. By 1849 the Borough Corporation had ceased to exist.

Hart House School

In the 1820’s a private, fee paying, boys boarding school was opened at Tregony by Dr James Hart who was also a Minister at the local Congregational Chapel. The school, which was one of the largest in Cornwall,  stayed in existence until 1893 when it was destroyed by fire. It never re-opened. Pupils from all parts of the Country, and even from abroad, attended the school during the time it was open.

This is just a summary of a small part of Tregony’s local history. If you have any information on anything whatsoever about the area’s history, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you. I am trying to collate as many facts as I can. Also, if I can be of assistance to anyone regarding the facts I already have, please shout!.