Menabilly

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Coordinates: 50°19′44″N 4°40′12″W / 50.329°N 4.670°W / 50.329; -4.670

Menabilly House, Fowey
"Menabilly the seat of ...Rashleigh, Esq., Cornwall". Antique print

Menabilly (Cornish: Men Ebeli, meaning stone of colts) is an historic estate on the south coast of Cornwall, England, situated within the parish of Tywardreath[1] on the Gribben peninsula about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Fowey.[2] It has been the seat of the Rashleigh family from the 16th century to the present day. The mansion house, which received a Grade II* listing on 13 March 1951,[3] is early Georgian in style, having been re-built on the site of an earlier Elizabethan house, parts of which were possibly incorporated into the present structure. The house is surrounded by woodland and nearby is the farmhouse Menabilly Barton.[4] In the Return of Owners of Land, 1873 Jonathan Rashleigh of Menabilly, Par, was listed as the largest landowner in Cornwall with an estate of 30,156 acres (122.04 km2) or 3.97% of the total area of Cornwall.[5]

The house inspired its then tenant Daphne du Maurier, to write her bestselling 1938 novel Rebecca, in which the house features as "Manderley".

Rashleigh family seat[edit]

Further information: Rashleigh family
Arms of Rashleigh: Sable, a cross or between in the first quarter: a Cornish chough, argent beaked and legged gules; in the second quarter: a text "T"; in the third and fourth quarters: a crescent all of the third[6]

The Rashleigh family of Menabilly originated as powerful merchants in the 16th century. In 1545 Philip Rashleigh (died 1551), a younger son of the Rashleigh family of Barnstaple in Devon, who had become wealthy through trade, purchased the manor of Trenant near Fowey from the King after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. His two sons Robert and John founded the Rashleigh family of Fowey. The land on which Menabilly was built has been owned by the Rashleigh family since the 1560s. In 1589 the building of the first house at Menabilly was commenced by John Rashleigh (1554–1624), shipowner, MP for Fowey in 1589 and 1597, Sheriff of Cornwall 1608-9, who captained his own ship Francis of Foy against the Spanish Armada in 1588. The house was completed in 1624 by his son Jonathan Rashleigh (1591–1675), five times MP for Fowey and a Royalist during the Civil War. It was re-built between 1710 to 1715 by Jonathan Rashleigh III (1693–1764).

In national politics the Rashleighs of Menabilly obtained a voice in parliament due to their power to elect members of parliament for the pocket borough of Fowey. The electors consisted of the portreeve and commonalty (or burgesses), and the family purchased several of the freehold properties in the borough to which the right to vote as burgesses was attached. Thus it is believed that they and their cousins the Rashleighs of Combe, Fowey, due to their combined property holdings, controlled 12 votes in the 1570s and in 1650 controlled 15 votes, corresponding to the number of freehold properties in the borough manor owned by them in 1649. Thus members of the Rashleigh family frequently used their influence as landlords of these properties to have themselves elected to parliament as members for Fowey.[7]

Description of house[edit]

Gatehouse of Menabilly

The present house is of two storeys built around a central courtyard with a six-bay front on which the central 3 bays break forward.[8] Philip Rashleigh (1729–1811) landscaped the gardens and planted the woodland around the house and estate. William Rashleigh, his nephew, succeeded after Philip's death in 1811, and following a fire in 1822 rebuilt the house greatly extended in size.

During these alterations, his architect noticed that the buttress against the north wall was not supporting anything and demolished it, whereupon steps were uncovered leading to a small cell containing the skeleton of a Cavalier. Upon research William discovered that certain members of the Grenville family of Stowe, Cornwall, had sought sanctuary at Menabilly from the Parliamentarian forces during the civil war. Jonathan Rashleigh (1820-1905), the cricketer, improved and extended the gardens and grounds and planted many trees including pine, cedar, eucalyptus and beech. He also planted rhododendron, bamboo and hydrangea. John Rashleigh, grandson of Jonathan, succeeded in 1905 but rarely lived at Menabilly which thus fell into serious decay. In 1943 it was discovered in a dilapidated state by the new tenant Daphne du Maurier the author, who set about restoring it and made it her home before returning it to the Rashleighs in 1969.[9]

Descent of estate[edit]

John I Rashleigh (d.1582)[edit]

1602 Monumental brass of Alice Lanyon (d.1591), wife of John I Rashleigh (d.1582), Fowey Church

John I Rashleigh (d.1582), a merchant at Fowey in Cornwall in 1573 purchased from Christopher Copleston (d.1586) of Copleston[10] in Devon, the estate of Menabilly, together with Treswethick, Trewrong and Penpol.[11] He was the 2nd son of Philip I Rashleigh (d.1551) of Fowey.[12] He married Alice Lanyon (d.20 August 1591) (whose 1602 monumental brass survives in Fowey Church,[13]) daughter of William Lanyon by his wife Thomasine Tregian, daughter of Thomas Tregian.[14]

John Rashleigh II (1554–1624)[edit]

John Rashleigh II (1554–1624), son, builder of the first house at Menabilly, shipping-merchant, MP for Fowey in 1588 and 1597, and High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1608.[15]

Jonathan Rashleigh I (1591–1675)[edit]

Jonathan Rashleigh I (1591-1675), 2nd son and heir, his elder brother John Rashleigh (1582-May 1624), presumed insane, having died one month after their father, who left instructions in his will for his care to his 2nd son, executor and heir Jonathan: "keep and maintain his brother John, allowing him a chamber, meat, drink, apparel and all other necessities and a servant continually to attend him".[16] Jonathan was elected MP for Fowey in 1614, 1621 and 1625, and retained his seat until the start of the Civil War of 1641-1651 during which Menabilly was ransacked of livestock, furniture and stores. After the execution of King Charles I Jonathan was imprisoned at St Mawes Castle and his estate became bankrupt from the war and parliamentarian taxes. Jonathan's son John Rashleigh (1621-1651), MP for Fowey in 1661, pre-deceased his father, having married Joan Pollexfen and produced male issue, and thus after Jonathan's death in 1675 his heir was his grandson Jonathan Rashleigh (1642-1702)

Jonathan Rashleigh II (1642–1702)[edit]

Jonathan Rashleigh (1642–1702), of Menabilly, Sheriff of Cornwall 1686. (Previously thought to be his father-in-law Sir John Carew, 3rd Baronet (d.1692) of Antony). Painted c.1685/90 by unknown artist of the English School. National Trust, Collection of Antony House, Cornwall

Jonathan Rashleigh (1642–1702), grandson, Sheriff of Cornwall in 1686/7, and several times MP for Fowey, of whom a portrait exists at Antony House, Torpoint, Cornwall, the home of his 2nd wife Jane Carew, daughter of Sir John Carew, 3rd Baronet (1635–1692) of Antony. After his death in 1702 the estate was inherited by his eldest son by his second wife Jane Carew, Philip II Rashleigh (1689-1736)

Philip Rashleigh II (1689–1736)[edit]

Philip Rashleigh II (1689-1736) was the eldest son and heir of Jonathan Rashleigh (1642–1702) by his second wife Jane Carew. He served as MP for Liskeard 1710-1722.[17] He rebuilt Menabilly circa 1710-15.[18]He was a supporter of the Jacobite Pretender. He died in 1736 without progeny.

Jonathan Rashleigh III (1693–1764)[edit]

Jonathan Rashleigh III (1693–1764), younger brother. He was the fourth son, by his 2nd wife Jane Carew, of Jonathan Rashleigh II (1642–1702) . He served as MP for Fowey. He married in 1728 Mary Clayton, daughter of Sir William Clayton, 1st Baronet,[19] of Marden Park in Surrey, MP for Bletchingley. His 4th son John Rashleigh (1742-1803) of Penquite, Cornwall, was the father of Sir John Colman Rashleigh, 1st Baronet (1772–1847) of Prideaux, Cornwall.[20] He was a co-heir (together with his sister's grandson Reginald Pole-Carew (d.1835), whose share included Antony) of his half first cousin[21] Sir Coventry Carew, 6th Baronet (c. 1716–1748) of Antony, from whom he inherited several estates including East Antony, Manely Durnford, Langunnet, Little Deviock, Sheviock, Nancolleth, Pensignance, Penventon, Helsett, Drewsteignton and Notter. Furthermore after the death of Lady Carew in 1762 he inherited further properties, namely Roserrow In St. Minver and Davidstow, Tregollen In St. Minver and Davidstow, Trelander In St. Minver and Davidstow, Grays In St. Minver and Davidstow, Rosebenault In St.Minver and Davidstow, Newham stream works and St. Veep woods.[22]

Philip Rashleigh III (1729–1811)[edit]

Philip Rashleigh III (1729–1811), eldest son and heir, MP for Fowey. He was a renowned mineralogist who wrote many books on the subject and a well-known collector of mineral samples, for the storage of which he dedicated a room at Menabilly. Philip also started a coin collection which became one of the largest in the country. He landscaped the gardens and built the grotto at Polridmouth said to be made of "every variety of English and foreign stones and shell" and also planted the woodland around the house and elsewhere on the estate. In 1782 he married his cousin Jane Pole (d.1795), daughter of Rev. Carolus Pole by his wife Sarah Rashleigh, but died without issue, when his heir became his nephew William Rashleigh (1777-1855).[23]

William Rashleigh I (1777–1855)[edit]

William Rashleigh I (1777–1855), nephew, MP for Fowey 1812–18, Sheriff of Cornwall in 1818. He was a member of the Church Missionary Society and built Tregaminion Chapel. In 1822 a fire broke out which led him to greatly extend the house. During these alterations, his architect noticed that the buttress against the north wall was not supporting anything and demolished it, whereupon steps were uncovered leading to a small cell where they found the body of a Cavalier, and following research it was discovered that certain members of the Grenville family of Stowe in Cornwall, had sought sanctuary from the Parliamentarian forces during the civil war. In 1816 he married secondly Caroline Hinxman, daughter of Henry Hinxman of Ivychurch, Wiltshire.[24]

William Rashleigh II (1817–1871)[edit]

William Rashleigh II (1817–1871), eldest son by 2nd marriage, JP, DL and MP for East Cornwall 1841–47. He travelled in the Middle East and whilst in Egypt he met a sheikh in Cairo who on hearing the name Rashleigh asked if he knew Philip Rashleigh and told him that many years before as a prisoner of war in England Philip had invited him to Menabilly many times. In 1843 he married Hon. Catherine Stuart (d.1872), eldest daughter of the Scottish peer Robert Walter Stuart, 11th Lord Blantyre (1777-1830). He left no male progeny and was succeeded by his brother Jonathan Rashleigh (1820-1905)[25]

Jonathan Rashleigh IV (1820–1905)[edit]

Evelyn William Rashleigh (1850-1926), of Stoketon, Saltash, Cornwall, younger son of Jonathan Rashleigh (1820-1905) of Menabilly.[26]) Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro

Jonathan Rashleigh IV (1820–1905), brother, of Menabilly, Feniton Court in Devon and Lissadrone, County Mayo, Ireland. He greatly improved and extended the gardens and grounds surrounding Menabilly. He planted many trees including pine, cedar, eucalyptus and beech. He also planted rhododendron, bamboo and hydrangea. He was a JP, DL and High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1877. In 1843 he married firstly Mary Pole Stuart (d.1852), daughter of William Stuart of Aldenham Abbey, Hertfordshire and Tempsford Hall, Bedfordshire, a grandson of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–1792), KG. His eldest son was Jonathan Rashleigh (1845-1872), who pre-deceased his father having married in 1870 Mary Frances Labouchere (d.1874), daughter of John Labouchere of Broome Hall, Surrey and niece of Henry Labouchere, 1st Baron Taunton (1798-1869), by whom he left male issue John Cosmo Stuart Rashleigh (born 1872), heir to his grandfather.[27]

John Rashleigh III (1872–1961)[edit]

Daphne du Maurier, tenant and restorer of Menabilly 1943-1969

John (Cosmo Stuart) Rashleigh III (1872–1961), grandson. He was also lord of the manors in Cornwall of Arallos, Lusculyan, Trenant, Lantyan, Langunett, Manely Durford, Manely Fleming, Lametton, Pohrvan, Pensignance, Tywardreath and Lanyon Polveithan. He was patron of the living of Wickham in Hampshire, a JP for Devon and Cornwall and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1908.[28] He was a collector of medals, tokens tickets and classical Greek and Roman coins.[29] Educated at Eton, and Trinity College Cambridge, he qualified as a medical doctor in 1904.[30] He resided mainly at Throwleigh near Okehampton[31] in Devon and rarely lived at Menabilly which thus fell into serious decay. It was discovered in a dilapidated state by the author Daphne du Maurier who when granted a lease in 1943, set about restoring it and made it her home before returning it to the Rashleighs in 1969.[32]

Rashleigh baronets[edit]

In the 20th century Menabilly passed into the ownership of the Rashleigh baronets, descended from John Rashleigh (1742-1803) of Penquite, Cornwall, the 4th son of Jonathan III Rashleigh (1690-1764) of Menabilly.[33] The owner in 2013 was Sir Richard Harry Rashleigh, 6th Baronet (born 1958), who in 1996 married Emma Felicity Clare McGougan (1961-2013), by whom he has two children, formerly a secretarial assistant to prime minister Margaret Thatcher.[34]

Menabilly in the 21st century[edit]

Today Menabilly and most of the grounds remain private although two cottages on the estate are rented as holiday lets.

In popular culture[edit]

The house was the inspiration, along with Milton Hall, Cambridgeshire, for "Manderley", the house in du Maurier's novel Rebecca (1938).[35] Like Menabilly, the fictional Manderley was hidden in woods and could not be seen from the shore. Also du Maurier's novel "The King's General" is set here and features the skeleton found in the cellar.

External links[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, pp. 1891–3, Rashleigh of Menabilly

Further reading[edit]

  • Rashleigh, E.W., Book of Pedigrees, Cornwall Record Office: RS/86
  • Marshall, James C., Rashleigh of Devon, Devon Notes & Queries, Vol. IV (1906/7), pp. 201–16

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dunkin, Edwin Hadlow Wise, The Monumental Brasses of Cornwall with Descriptive, Geneaological and Heraldic Notes, 1882, p.57
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  3. ^ Listed buildings text
  4. ^ Menabilly Barton situated at grid reference SX 100 511
  5. ^ Who Owns Britain - by Kevin Cahill (author)
  6. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain, vol.1
  7. ^ http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/constituencies/fowey
  8. ^ Listed buildings text[citation needed]
  9. ^ Oriel Malet (ed.), (1993) Letters from Menabilly, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  10. ^ Vivian, p.224, pedigree of Copleston of Copleston
  11. ^ Cornwall Archives, "Rashleigh of Menabilly", catalogue entry for R/2571 "1573 John Rashleigh bought Menabilly, Treswethick, Trewrong and Penpol from Christopher Coplestone"
  12. ^ Dunkin, Edwin Hadlow Wise, The Monumental Brasses of Cornwall with Descriptive, Geneaological and Heraldic Notes, 1882, p.56
  13. ^ Dunkin, Edwin Hadlow Wise, The Monumental Brasses of Cornwall with Descriptive, Geneaological and Heraldic Notes, 1882, text pp.55-57, image plate XLV
  14. ^ Dunkin, p.55
  15. ^ Cassidy, Irene, biography of John Rashleigh (d.1624), published in: History of Parliament: House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
  16. ^ Cassidy, Irene, biography of John Rashleigh (d.1624), published in: History of Parliament: House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
  17. ^ Cruickshanks, Eveline, biography of Philip Rashleigh (1689-1736) published in History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
  18. ^ Lister buildings text
  19. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  20. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  21. ^ Rashleigh was a grandson of Sir John Carew, 3rd Baronet (d.1692) by his first wife Sarah Hungerford (d.1671), whilst Sir Coventry Carew was his grandson by his third wife Mary Morrice, daughter of Sir William Morrice Bt., of Werrington (Vivian, Heraldic Visitations of Devon, 1895, p.143, pedigree of Carew)
  22. ^ Archives of Rashleigh family of Menabilly, early 13th century to 1989, Cornwall Record Office R/3737 - R/5883
  23. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  24. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  25. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  26. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, pp. 1891–3, Rashleigh of Menabilly
  27. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  28. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  29. ^ http://content.yudu.com/Library/A201nf/Christmas2012/resources/35.htm
  30. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  31. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  32. ^ Oriel Malet (ed.), (1993) Letters from Menabilly, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  33. ^ Burkes Landed Gentry, 1937, p.1891
  34. ^ Obituary of Lady Emma Rashleigh, wife of 6th Baronet, Cornish Guardian, 1 May 2013 [1]
  35. ^ http://www.dumaurier.org/memories.html