THE GODOLPHIN ESTATE AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE PARISH OF ST UNY, LELANT
By Ann CLEGG
© Ann Clegg 2014
Over the past few years I have been researching the history of the Godolphin estate, its owners, tenants, and workers. It never ceases to amaze me that I find all sorts of interesting links. Here are two that relate to Lelant.
When Sidney Godolphin, who later became Earl Godolphin, was widowed his young child Francis was sort of “adopted” by his late wife’s mentor, John Evelyn. Francis often referred to John as his “Grand Papa”. When Francis was twelve years old and a pupil at Eton College he was sent on a long holiday through the South and West of England at the behest of John who wanted him to see where the Godolphins came from. The long travelogue letter that Francis wrote back to John on 5 July 1690 is a revelation in itself as to the great families in the West who hosted his journey. However, it is useful from the point of St Uny’s history in that he records “Godolphin is not above 3 miles from the South and North Sea (his understanding of geography left a lot to be desired, so for North Sea read the sea on the North Coast) where there is a Church almost wholly lost in the sand so that they did not officiate in it for many years but the sand is now wonderfully blown off from one end of it so that they say prayers in the Belfry”. This report ties in with what we know of the church in 1679 when the glebe land and vicarage house had virtually disappeared under sand.
My second link relates to the reverend Richard Frederick Tyacke which I hope will give you some insight into this Cornish family. In researching the period of history of Godolphin after the Godolphin family had died out, I discovered that by 1801 the lease of Godolphin House was in the hands of Richard Tyacke, a farmer and mine adventurer. This was a very important time for Godolphin House as the building had been virtually neglected for a hundred years and its great hall and south wing were both in a terrible state. Richard asked the Duke of Leeds, the absentee landlord, if he would repair the buildings but instead the Duke just gave him permission to demolish the derelict parts of the house. It was during this time that Godolphin changed from being a tin miner’s mansion into a country manor farmhouse. Richard Tyacke was a wealthy man who was making a good living both from tin and farming. He was able to send his son, also called Richard, to boarding school and then to St John’s College, Cambridge. Richard junior, became a clergyman, married Josephine, the daughter of General Walker and served as Vicar of Padstow from 1837 – 1896. He must have been one of the longest serving incumbents in Cornwall. The reverend Richard had eight children, the first born being Richard Frederick, who also became a vicar – Vicar of St Uny’s!
Grandfather Richard Tyacke of Godolphin was a very wealthy, successful man. He leased four properties from the Duke of Leeds on the Godolphin estate and he spent his own money building farm buildings behind the house, although the duke raised the price of his lease every time it came up for renewal. When Richard died at Godolphin on 5 December 1825, his probate inventory included 11 feather beds, 10 bedsteads, 17 tables, 9 stools, 5 cupboards, 62 chairs, 6 chests of drawers, decanters, and 56 bottles of wine. It looks as though he made a good living from Godolphin! He had many cattle and a flock of 70 sheep, 12 oxen, 17 mules, 2 donkeys, 7 farm horses and colts.
So that Vicar of St Uny certainly came from country gentry stock, with a vicar for a father, an army General for one grandfather and a wealthy mine adventurer cum farmer as the other. Of course all local golfers owe a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Richard Tyacke of St Uny, Lelant, for the foundation of the West Cornwall links, so next time you are passing the West Cornwall Golf Club clubhouse pop in and take a look at his portrait in the bar.