PENCARROW, CORNWALL

Grid Ref: SX 040 710
Date: 24 Jun 2013

 

Pencarrow lies about 3.5 miles SE of Wadebridge and about 4 miles NW of Bodmin not far off the A389. This is a charming Georgian mansion set in beautiful grounds. It is still owned by the original Molesworth family, who moved to the area from Northampton in the late 1500s when John Molesworth was appointed Auditor of the Duchy of Corwall by Elizabeth I. One of his grandsons was knighted by Charles II and appointed Vice-Admiral for Northern Cornwall while a second became Governor of Jamaica. He was a supporter of the Glorious Revolution and given a baronetcy by Willam and Mary. The family extended their existing house in the 1760s to create the elegant house shown below. It was begun by Sir John Molesworth, the 4th Baronet and completed after his death by Sir John Molesworth the 5th baronet. The architect was Robert Allanson (1735–1773) from York.

The interior has many interesting features including pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Henry Raeburn and visitors will be intrigued to learn that Sir Arthur Sullivan wrote Iolanthe while staying at the house. The gardens and woodland around the house were laid out by Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet, between 1831 and 1835. There are 160 species of conifeers, 700 of rhododendrons and 60 species of camellias. It is believed that the name Monkey Puzzle Tree for the Araucaria araucana was coined by a visitor to Pencarrow.

No stately home is complete without a good tea-room and Pencarrow's comes complete with peacocks as shown below!

Pencarrow
Pencarrow, early afternoon in midsummer
Pencarrow
South and East elevations, the latter in shade by early afternoon
Pencarrow
Eastern Side with the main entrance
Pencarrow
View from across the park
Peacock
Visitor at the Peacock Café

 

The Molesworths of Pencarrow

The Molesworth Baronetcy was created for Hender Molesworth (1638–1689), Governor of Jamaica in 1689. Several of the Molesworth's were Members of Parliament. The Sir John Molesworth, the 2nd Baronet (1635-1716) represented Lostwithiel and Bossiney. These were both rotten boroughs - that is boroughs which returned two Members of Parliament despite a very small population and they were abolished by the Reform Act of 1832.

Sir John Molesworth the 4th Baronet (1705-1766) was an MP for Newport, another Cornish rotten borough near Launceston. In this constituency, inhabitants paying the household tax known as scot and lot had been entitled to vote until the early 18th century. Later the voting qualification was changed to a so called burgage franchise where the right to vote was restricted to owners of certain properties and plots of land in the constituency. By 1831 the number qualified to vote was only 12 out of a population of 595 but they returned two MPs at a time when Manchester had none. The Duke of Newcastle owned much property in the borough and in effect could chose both MPs.

The 5th Baronet, Sir John Molesworth (1729-1775) and the 6th Baronet, Sir William Molesworth (1758-1798) were both MPs. The latter was educated at Eton College and St. John's College, Cambridge and served as MP for Cornwall from 1765-1775. He was succeeded by his son, Sir Arscott Ourry Molesworth, 7th Baronet.

Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet (1810-1855) was a very colourful character. He was educated by tutors before entering St. John's College, Cambridge then moved to Trinity College. He fought a duel with his tutor and was sent down, subsequently studying abroad and at Edinburgh University. Following the Reform Act of 1832, Sir William was MP for the Eastern Division of Cornwall. He was a Radical and supported the Whig government of Lord Grey. In April 1835 he founded with John Arthur Roebuck (1802 – 1879) a magazine called the London Review for the Philosophic Radicals, a group that followed the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham and strongly supported parliamentary reform. Later Molesworth bought the Westminster Review, a quarterly publication founded in 1823 by Jeremy Bentham. Molesworth and John Stuart Mill, the philosopher and economist, were the editors of the merged publications. Sir William Molesworth was MP for Leeds from 1837 to 1841 and then became High Sheriff of Cornwall until 1845. Returning again to parliament for Southwark he remained MP for that constitutency until 1855. In 1853 he was the only Radical in Lord Aberdeen's coalition government of Free Traders, Peelites and Whigs. Molesworth became First Commissioner of Works and in July 1855, shortly before his death in October that year, he was made Colonial Secretary. (Note that the Wikipedia article on Sir William Molesworth makes much of the fact that he was a Radical and supported Lord Grey. By contrast, and in error, the Wikipedia article on the Molesworth Baronets, has him down as a Conservative MP)

In 1844, the 12th Baronet (1833-1913) changed his name by Royal licence to Molesworth-St. Aubyn to reflect the fact that his mother, was the daughter of Sir John St. Aubyn, the 5th Baronet St. Aubyn. His Christian name was already St. Aubyn so he became Sir St. Aubyn Hender Molesworth-St. Aubyn. The 16th and current Baronet is Sir William Molesworth-St. Aubyn.

 

Sources

Pencarrow's own website
Wikipedia articles on Pencarrow, Molesworth Baronets, Newport, Sir William Molesworth 8th Baronet and some links therein.

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