History of Bosavern House
The hamlet of Bossavarne was listed in the survey of St Just in
Penwith by Sir William Drake who was the Vicar during the years 1582-1612. In
his survey he recorded the names of all the inhabitants and their places of abode for the years 1588-1596.
In Bossavarne itself
the following named persons made up its inhabitants in 1589 (the 1588 list is missing):
Martyn Thomas, Cyprian Bobartes, Richard George, Martin
Jephra, George Beryman, John Niclas alias Frank, Robarte Warde, Tegue the servant boy, Eliza Entrall, Margaret Carallack (wages
15s 9d), Sisly Tegue, Sibill Prior, William Bossavarne, Ed. Letheby, Reginald Rowman, Ric a manservant, Margery a servant
(wages 10s) and Jane Simpson.
During the years 1590-1593
William Bossavarne was the only one of that name recorded there, but in 1594 a John and Thomas Bossavarne were also included,
alongside William, though it is not clear if they were related. By 1596 only
William remained, but one interesting item for both 1594 and 1596 mentioned Nurry a daughter.
The name of Margaret Carallack is listed as one of the inhabitants during 1589-1590.
It was common practice in those days to take the place of abode or birth as the surname, and Carallack being within
the parish, was probably the “home” of Margaret where, as the survey showed, other Carallacks lived from 1589-1596.
The Bosavern family
was descended from the redoubtable John Thomas, sergeant-at-arms for King Henry the Eighth.
As the result of Warbeck’s rebellion, Anne the wife and Jane the daughter of Richard Pendyn, who was implicated
in it, were compelled to surrender the Pendeen estate for a nominal sum in 1514 to John Thomas. In 1523 the latter appears as “Johes Thomas Sargantt” among those who paid to the subsidy
for lands at St Just. As sergeant-at-arms in 1531 he apprehended William Kendall. In 1537 he was appointed by John Tregian one of the overseers of his will. It is not known when he died. He was probably succeeded
as owner of lands at St Just by his son Thomas Thomas, who appears as Thomas Bossavarne in the Herald’s Visitation. In 1589 the greater part of Bosavern Estate was held
by Martyn Thomas, who according to the Visitation married Jane, daughter of Richard
Robartes of Truro, grandfather of the First Lord Truro. The smaller portion
of Bosavern was held by William Bossavarne, a nephew of Martyn Thomas. The latter
continued to be styled Martyn Thomas until 1592, when he is described in the Easter
Book as Martyn Bossavarne. In 1594 and 1596 he appears again as Martyn Thomas,
although in the former year his son is styled John Bossavarne. John, the son
and heir of Martyn Thomas, under the name of John Bosavern, married Margery, daughter of Christopher Arundell of Camborne.
In 1840 Bosavern House
belonged jointly to J. N. R. Millett of Penzance and Mr Saundry who resided there.
The Millett portion passed through the intermediate possession of the Pendarvas family, and Mr Saundry’s portion
was sold in 1724 by the Nicholls family of Trereife to Thomas Allen, who added to the house and later sold it to Mr Saundry
(the father of the occupier of the 1840 period) in 1789.
The Millett family
had a long association with the St Just church. James Millett who held the living
(Patron, Charles the Second) from 1678 to 1732, a period of 54 years, kept the Church registers in his own hand up to a few
months before he died, at the age of 85.
mother was Grace Millett. Humphry Millett and his wife died of a fever in June
1757 leaving 3 children, Jane who married Henry Sampson, a watchmaker of Penzance;
Elizabeth who married her cousin Leonard Millett of Marazion; and Grace
who in 1776 married Robert Davy. On the 17th of December 1778 Humphry
Davy was born at No. 4 The Terrace, Penzance, not far from where Humphry Davy’s statue stands.
The Millett connection
with the Manor or Tenement of Lafrowda came about through the Richards family of St Levan.
Nicholas Richards acquired a two-thirds part of the Manor in 1765, and in his will dated the 15th of May
1778 left instructions that Grace Marrack Broad, his niece, should inherit his estate.
The surviving children of Grace Marrack Broad, namely Grace Richards Marrack Millett (by marriage) and Wilmot Richards
Hichens (by marriage) ultimately became part owners of Lafrowda.
The Millett family
were one of the principal families in the area during the time they resided at Bosavern, and their influence in local affairs
has been well documented in the old Vestry registers. The arms of the Bosavern
family, three scallop shells impaled betwixt six martlets in pale with a crescent
for distinction, can be seen in the restored “pew end” now fitted on one of the choir stalls. The Bosavern pew was probably removed from the Church when it was refurbished in 1865.
A fair proportion of
the information given in these few notes has been obtained from the Statistical Account
of St Just by the Rev. Buller dated 1842 , and from the Mercurial Chemist by Anne
Treneer , also from the Easter Book by Sir William
Drake and the Rev. Canon Taylor , who by careful research gave us the opportunity to delve into the history of our parish.
Source: Bosavern House and the Millett Family
[typescript, author and date unknown]
The family of Boson was established at Newlyn as early
as 1584, when “Nicholas Bossen of Newlin, husbandman” purchased some land at Keygwyn and Bojuian (Bojewyan) in
St. Yuste, from Thomas Keygwyn, of Plymouth, sailor, for £45.
In 1634 “William Bosen, merchant” and Nicholas, his son and heir, granted a lease of his land to James
Nycholas, “Tynner”. They sign their names “Boson”. In 1657 “Nicholas Bosen of Newlvn,
gentleman,” apparently the son of the last named Nicholas, having married Elizabeth the daughter of John Webber, gentleman,
deceased, made a jointure settlement on her. Her marriage portion had been £300. In return for this, her husband appointed
John Oliver of Sithney, gent and Arthur Paynter of St. Erth, gent, as trustees to see that she received £30 a year for life
if she survived him. This annuity was to be raised from his lands in Treungle and Hellwyn in Pawle, Keigwin and Bosèuian
in St. Just, Brane in Sankrett, Chirgwin and Raftra in St. Levan, Penzance, Mousehole, Newlyn and Brewinny in Paul.
She was to have the use of the mansion-house and gardens (in Newlyn) for her life.
This Nicholas Boson was evidently the student of Cornish. In 1663 he sold his lands in Keigwin to Martyn Angwyn
of St. Just, gent., and in 1664 we have a deed whereby he conveys his two stitches of land (3/4 acre) in the close called
Parke-an-Chappell in Bojewyan alias Bosuyan in St. Just, to Richard Angwyn of St. Just, gentleman. This deed, signed “Nicholas Boson”, is an interesting link between the two students of Cornish.
In a deed of 1670 “Richard Angwin of Bojewyan, gent.,” is described as son of one Martin Angwin of Bojewyan,
who was alive in 1605. In 1646 he married Grace the daughter of Thomas Fleming of Landithy in Madron. ...
The original will of Richard Angwyn is dated October 4, 1671. ... The testator appears to have had no children, but
made his sister’s son Emanuell Millett his sole executor and residuary legatee. ... To his nephew Emanuell Millett (son
of his sister Honor by Christopher Millett) he left all his house and lands in Bojewyan, where he lived, with the residue
of his property. ...
Henderson, Charles. Nicholas Boson and
Richard Angwyn. Cornish-L Archives. http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/CORNISH/2001-01/0980902275.
The hamlet of Bossavarne was surrendered to King Henry
VIII in 1514 by the Pendeen Estate as a direct result of Perkin Warbeck’s rebellion [of 1497 against King Henry VII]
and formed part of the Manor of Kelynack. (There has never been a recognised
Manor, or Manor House at Bosavern). The land at Bosavern was presented to John
Thomas – subsequently referred to as Thomas Bosaverne – by King Henry VIII as a reward for Thomas’s services
to the King as a Sargeant-at-Arms.
Bosavern House was
built in 1625. This is also the year in which the Bosavern family arms were
carved in wood and fixed over the old Bosavern Pew in St Just church. The carved
pew end may still be seen today.
John Bosavern’s will of 1629 shows the House to
have had the following rooms: Hall, Parlour, Buttery, a little Study, Larder,
Milkhouse and Kitchen, and five upper chambers. There were also men’s
and maid’s chambers.
The house was sold
to the Millett family a few years later and was then owned by them and their descendants for over 300 years. The Millett family became one of the principal families in St Just and substantial land-owners. It is said that at one time they owned all of the land which could be seen from any of the windows of
Bosavern House. ...
Source: Collinson, Corinne. Bosavern House: a brief history. Bosavern, 2006. 4 p.
Ownership of Bosavern
Bosavern was the residence of the
family of that name in 1625. ... The property belongs now, partly to J. N. R. Millett, Esq., of Penzance, and partly to Mr.
Saundry, who resides there. Mr. Millett’s part passed through the intermediate possession of the Pendarves family.
Mr. Saundry’s portion was sold, A.D. 1724, by Nicholls, of Trereife, to Thomas Allen, who added to the house, and afterwards
sold it to Mr. Saundry, the father of the present proprietor, A.D. 1789.
Buller, John. A statistical account
of the Parish of Saint Just in Penwith in the County of Cornwall, with some notice of its ecclesiastical and druidical antiquities.
Penzance, R. D. Rodda, 1842, p. 62.
The manor of Kalinack or Killenick was formerly very
extensive, embracing several of the adjoining farms, viz: Bosavern, Hendra, Dowran, Letcha, Bosorn, and perhaps other tenements.
In the beginning of the last century the manor of Collinack
or Killinack was in possession of John Nicholls, by whose trustees it was sold for the purposes mentioned in his will.
Mr. James Millett became purchaser of one part, by whom it was again sold to Mr. George Blewett in 1742, and by whose descendants
it was conveyed to the present highly esteemed Proprietor, Joseph Carne, Esq., of Penzance, who has much improved the farm
and the village. To this gentleman I am indebted for this latter information. There is still one bed room which
had its ceiling a little ornamented, and over the chimney-piece are some mutilated initials; an M is apparently that
of a surname probably the James Millett mentioned above: the date, 1691, is perfect. ... "
Buller, John. A statistical account of the Parish of Saint Just in Penwith in
the County of Cornwall, with some notice of its ecclesiastical and druidical antiquities. Penzance, R. D. Rodda,
1842, p. 59-60.
At Bosavern a branch of the [Millett] family lived in one house from 1627 to
the present time.
Source: Stinchfield, John Clark. History of the town of Leeds, Androscoggin County, Maine, from its settlement, June 10,
1780. Lewiston, Me, Press of Lewiston Journal, 1901, p. 43.
Edwin Ley Millett took title to Bosavern on the death
of his father John Nicholas Richards Millett in January 1885.
Edwin Richard Collingwood Millett, after serving in
the Boer War, returned to England. As the only surviving child he inherited
Bosavern on the death of his father Edwin Ley Millett in December 1902, and sold it.
Source: Millett, Iain. Millett of Penpol and Marazion.
Owners and Occupiers
This list may not be complete but it provides an interesting indication of the long period of history associated
with Bosavern House.
early 16th C The Bossavarne family was descended
from one John Thomas who had been a sergeant-at-arms for King Henry VIII. John
Thomas is recorded in the St Just area between 1514 and 1537. We have not yet
found any records which link him directly to Bosavern House.
John Thomas was probably succeeded by his son Thomas Thomas, also referred to as Thomas Bossavarne.
The greater part of the Bosavern estate was held by Martyn Thomas,
whilst a smaller portion was held by William Bossavarne, Martyn’s nephew. Martyn
is also referred to as Martyn Bossavarne in some documents.
Reference is also made to Martyn’s son, John Bossavarne. This is
the year in which the Bosavern family arms were carved in wood and fixed over the old Bosavern pew in St Just church. (This pew end may still be seen in the church today).
By this date, the Millett family had taken over the ownership of Bosavern and Martin Millett was in residence.
1678 – 1732 James Millett, Vicar of St Just in
Thomas Allen purchased the portion of the house which was owned by the Nicholls family of Trereife.
Thomas Allen sold his portion to Mr Saundry.
The house was owned jointly by J N R [John Nicholas Richards] Millett and Mr Saundry [son of the earlier-mentioned
Mr Saundry]. At one stage, J N R Millett was the mayor of Penzance.
15 Jan. 1885 Edwin Ley Millett became the owner on the death of his father.
29 Dec 1902 Edwin Richard Collingwood Millett inherited the house upon
the death of his father.
23 Oct 1923 John and James Philips (farmers) were taken on as tenants
by E R C [Edwin Richard Collingwood] Millett.
1 July 1926 John Walters took over as tenant.
20 Jan 1950 Reginald B G Birtill took over as tenant.
17 Mar 1956 Mr J Streak inherited the House upon the death of E R C Millett
South Africa [in 1949].
11 Oct 1957 William Hibberd bought Bosavern House (he was already living
here –– as a tenant?)
25 Jan 1965 Stanton Noel Page, jointly with John and Pamela Ladd became
31 May 1965 Stanton Page became the sole owner.
September 1970 – obtained approval to build the garage.
31 Jan 1978 Dennis and Myrtle Marks took over ownership.
November 1981 – obtained approval to develop the caravan park.
25 July 1983 Edgar and Joy Treweek took over ownership.
27 April 1988 Bob and Alison Hartley took over ownership.
28 Feb 1997 Colin and Maria Lilley took over ownership.
1 Aug 2000 Allan and Corinne Collinson took over ownership.
10 July 2017 Martin
and Helen Stevens
Source: Corinne Collinson.
Description of Bosavern House
The oldest part of the house is the northern end, i.e. the guests’ lounge, hall, stairs
and two rooms over the lounge and hall. Recent work on the roof at this end
has enabled us to confirm that the roof timbers are the original ones – implying that this part of the house has always
been its current size/height – suggesting it must have been quite imposing when it was first built. This is also the part of the house which has the thickest walls – 3 feet of solid granite! It was undoubtedly built on the site of an even older residence. …
Today, all of the house is very Victorian in its appearance – even the oldest part.
The Millett family used some of their wealth to invest in extending and “modernizing”
the house during the mid 19th century. This “modernization” would,
of course, have included the old-fashioned earlier parts of the house. It is
probably during this period that the house was almost tripled in size by the addition of the east-west wing and the north-south
wing. The granite walls of these wings are only 2 feet thick!
The coach-house dates back to 1873 – with this date being carved on the front of the
building, together with the initials W H M. The ground floor room still has
the beautiful curved wooden lintel which would have originally formed the top of the door into the building, through which
coaches and carts would pass. On the outside wall, there are still remains of
the metal posts upon which the door hinges would have rested.
The wing between the main house and coachhouse, now the next-door farmhouse, was built in
1911 and separated in 1918.
At the back of the property, the small caravan and camping park is on the site of the old
orchard. We have been told that there was a tree-lined avenue leading from the
house to the orchard. The orchard was also surrounded by trees which were planted
to provide a walk, called “Ladies Walk”. This was used by the ladies
of the house to take a walk in the shelter of the trees when the weather was bad.
At one time, there was also a building at the edge of the property, next to the road, where
the palm trees are now located. We understand this was the hamlet’s communal
wash house – and it still appears in one of the photographs in our front hall.
This building was demolished during the late 1970s/1980s when the overall entrance to the property was widened in order
to improve access.
It is common local knowledge that Bosavern House is connected to other properties (including
Bosavern Farm and Cot Manor) and to the sea by underground smugglers’ tunnels. Some
of the other properties were also built by the Millett family. Today, the exact
route of the tunnels is not known, although sections of it are still in existence – but sadly not at Bosavern. We are still looking!!
One of the oldest surviving members of the Millett family is living in South Africa and in
her nineties. She remembers going down to the sea as a child and into the cave
where the tunnel started. She even remembers the rings used for mooring the
We have three wells within the grounds of the house and one is next to the house. Unlike a traditional well, this is beautifully built with an arch which leads under the floor of our sitting
room – maybe this is our tunnel entrance?! For those visitors who are
interested, we keep water divining rods available so that they may have some fun trying their skills at finding the springs
and streams around our property.
Bosavern House is also reputed to have a friendly ghost called the “Grey Lady”.
She is a lady in a long grey dress, with long flowing hair. She is seen in our house and our neighbour’s house and sometimes in Ladies Walk. She is usually followed by a small dog and it is reported that the dog’s toenails can be heard clicking
on floorboards as it follows her. Apparently she is seen only by children. We know one person who, as a child, woke up and found the Grey Lady looking at her
toys in her bedroom.
Although we have never seen the Grey Lady, we often hear movement in the house when it is
quiet and empty – especially footsteps above us!! It never worries us
because the house feels so very warm and friendly.
Source: Collinson, Corinne. Bosavern House: a brief history. Bosavern,
2006. 4 p.
of Bosavern House
By Mary Blanche
(Molly) Cazalet, née Millett
of email from Anne Haig to Corinne and Allan Collinson, owners of Bosavern House in Cornwall, dated 13 February 2001
Dear Corinne and Allan,
Thanks SO much for your email.
I am, once again, up in Zimbabwe with Jen until the 15th and have done some homework, so here goes ...
My cousin, Molly Cazalet née Millett,
now aged 92, lived in Bosavern as a child until she was 13 and her memories are what I write.
The Milletts went to the U.K. from
Brittany in 1066 and later to Cornwall – probably (?) built Bosavern and smuggled, using a huge cave on the coast in
line with the house. This, in Molly’s day, had a big iron ring in the
rocks to attach the boats to (?) and unload onto a cart that went up the passage to the house (?) and used the fireplace to
enter and unload (?). This was a story she heard as a child. Her father never allowed children to enter the cave as dangerous deep holes were found. I myself stayed at Bosavern as a girl 64 years ago and my uncle, Richard Millett (Molly’s father)
never allowed me to go near any caves for the same reason!
Richard Millett , wife Maud and children Pat and Molly , left New Zealand in about 1910 to live in Bosavern as Richard’s father died [in 1902] leaving the house to him.
Molly well remembers the ghost
story of the Grey Lady dressed in a long cotton dress which swished as she walked and her little dog with claws that clicked
on the floor as they went through the house, out the back porch, turned left to the coach house and apple loft and disappeared!!
Molly remembers her life there,
going to school in Penzance and later to New Quay by horse drawn coach kept in the coach house beside the house. Food was ordered by her mother every 6 months from Selfridges in London and came down by train.
There were four families (friends
nearby two being Coopers and Taylors), and each mother took it in turn every Saturday to take all the children out for the
day, each with little packs of food on their backs – leaving the other mothers to have a peaceful day!
There were seven bedrooms and no
bathroom in the house! Hip baths were carried by the two maids they employed
to each bedroom daily and water in jugs, and they bathed behind a screen.
The Milletts owned all the surrounding
land on their side of the road to Kynamic (a group of houses) to the clay pits – porcelain clay – on the way to
Penzance and all the moor lands opposite the pits. Do any signs of the pits
still exist, I wonder?
After this, Molly was to have her
lunch (she now lives in a retirement village in White River) so no more to tell you this time!!
I myself remember the house, spending
holidays at Bosavern from school in Devon, where I was for two years, while uncle Richard and my aunt lived there. It was a guest house then. I remember being terrified of
the ghost story and feeling someone was there in the garden which had lots of big trees and shrubs. Inside the house I do not remember anything except my little bedroom at the top of the stairs –
only lamps and candles to see our way.
Yes, Molly remembers the coat of
arms on the church pew.
I had SO hoped with the fallen-in
area next door that it led to the fireplace and cave but it must now be full of water??
Perhaps the history of the house
might be found at the Records Office or, I believe, there is a BBC TV programme called “House Detectives” and
they might be interested in the possibility of investigating the passage etc ... just a passing thought!
If you do find out any more facts, please let us know.
I suppose one of the most exciting discoveries was to find “Bosavern House” which
had been occupied by our branch of the family since the early seventeenth century and on the site of which there is reputed
to have been a dwelling for more than 600 years. The house is on the main road
about one mile south of the Market Square of St Just and not far from Land’s End.
Among the buildings nearby is a barn with “WH.M. 1783” carved into the stone over the door. In the Pedigree there are four William Milletts, any one of whom might have been the author of the carving!
When we visited the house we found that it had been sold out of the family in the early part
of this century with the last Millett owner having gone to South Africa. Now
a Bed & Breakfast establishment, we stayed for a night there in a wonderful room with a view of the land that had once
belonged to the family, sweeping down to a charming little cove on the west coast of Cornwall. It was a bittersweet experience!
Source: Millett, Brian. The Millett Family of Cornwall. Yass, NSW,
Australia, September 1990, p. 4.