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Nicholas Ennor 1796 - 1874
Every churchyard has some surprises; take a look at the ornate-sided tomb of Nicholas Ennor, very unusually perched almost on top of the hedge between the two entrances to the south side of the churchyard and shrouded in ivy.
A larger than life character, Ennor was well known in mining circles during the 19th century and was a young manager of Treburgett lead mine during the first of its productive phases 1817 - 1826.
Nicholas Ennor was born on 28th December 1796 and was baptised in St Agnes, 12th March 1797. These dates were taken from St Agnes baptisms and it appears that the tomb (see photo) mas mistakenly engraved with the date 31st December 1797.
He was the eldest of several children of Martin and Alice Ennor (nee Carter). If he spent much of his youth at St Agnes, he would have been well aware of the importance of Cornish mining because the whole area was a hive of mining activity. During his work at Treburgett mine he must have lived nearby, but we have no indication of where. Later, the 1841 census shows that he lived in Delabole with wife Jane, four children† and a servant. His occupation was given as a quarry agent. A move back to mining apparently followed, for in the 1850s he was asked to advise on the prospects of lead mines in the Mendip Hills, Somerset and abroad*. The 1861 census shows him living in Wells, Somerset. In a move which was bound to be controversial, he also published an annual list of mines worth investing in.
died 23 May 1874. The former date was probably in error - see text.
We can get a taste of his personality from an account in the Mining Journal by George Henwood, 27th June 1857.
Capt. Nicholas Ennor, Wiveliscombe, Somerset, is one of those extraordinary scintillae that appear once in an age, and has certainly done as much good to legitimate mining by his writings as any man living. His unsparing satire, his cutting though sometimes dogmatic remarks, have wrought a world of good; his straightforward mode of acting (never screening his opinions or remarks behind a feigned signature) has gained for him a celebrity few men have enjoyed. Before his scrutiny, humbug, deceit and pretension quail and hide their heads; for if Ennor come across them, he is sure to lift the veil and expose the barrenness of the land. His candour is too great to please all parties, as in all cases truth itself is not acceptable.
- a celebrity few men have enjoyed
Capt. Ennor has had ample opportunity for studying his favourite pursuit. At Treburgett he was distinguished as an able manager; at Drake Wells as a miner, and at Delabole as a quarryman, as he has sometimes been ironically termed. But to be an experienced slate quarryman is no slight accomplishment, or one easily attained or understood. It would be well if every mine inspector were thoroughly acquainted with the cleavage and characteristics of the slate rocks. The number of inspections with which Mr Ennor is entrusted has, no doubt, excited the envy, hatred, and malice of many who witnessed the success he really deserves; his integrity is unimpeachable; his ability acknowledged, and his writings testify he is guided by one principle in the main - to guard legitimate mining from fraud and impurities, whether found in the mine, the office, or on the Exchange. He carries on the war with a determined purpose against agents, accomplices, brokers etc. If he finds them out in a dereliction of their duties he at once exposes them, and boldly lets them know whence the shaft is sped, defying them to prove to the contrary. Long may Capt. Ennor enjoy health to carry out his great and good work.
More cutting remarks are to be found in obituaries in an editorial
in The Mining Journal, 30th May 1874
Nicholas Ennor - Whatever opinions may be entertained with respect to his views upon geological questions we are satisfied that there is not a reader of the Mining Journal but will regret that we shall no longer be able to number him amongst our correspondents. He died at his estate, St Teath, Cornwall on Saturday last in his seventy-seventh year. We cannot turn to a volume of the Journal during the last quarter of a century without finding communications from Mr Ennor upon subjects of paramount interest to practical miners. That his conclusions were at all times accurate we will not attempt to maintain, but it may be said without any hesitation that he has conferred a permanent benefit upon the mining community by recording so vast a mass of facts and observations. That one whose views upon geology were often extremely original (though his most imaginative notions would compare favourably with those of a member of the Geological Survey who has just taken it into his head to exclude, and attempt to justify the exclusion of, coal from the mineral kingdom) should have had energetic opponents is not a matter for surprise; but that his theories were not groundless may be judged of from the circumstance that there are now a vast number of practical men who have become converts to his opinions. He was unquestionably most laborious in research, as well as an acute observer during an extended period of years of practical experience.
The Late Mr Ennor
Sir, - Your notice of the demise of your indefatigable correspondent, Mr Ennor, has taken me and others by surprise. It was only a few days ago I was reading in the Mining Journal a letter of his, containing a series of interrogatories demanding solution.
- his egotism
I agree with you that, notwithstanding his weakness - his egotism - he
possessed a vast amount of mineral knowledge, acquired from observation and
experience during a long and active life. Having acquired some years ago an
independence, he has since been visiting and describing mines, and
contributing to the journal as means of recreation. He seemed to glory in
mining, and in writing about mines, lodes, cross-courses, slides, elvans,
strata, and on all the phenomena of inorganic nature. He visited, I believe,
nearly every mine in England and Wales. I think that there is only one
gentleman that I know who has visited more.
Mr W J Henwood, F.R.S of Penzance.
Every reader of Mr Ennor's letters must have perceived that his
cardinal weakness was an overestimate of himself, and those of your readers
who are conversant with the sciences of geology and mineralogy must have
smiled at some of the absurd theories proposed by him as incontestable
truths. But most of your readers will regret the removal of a man who
contributed so largely to their instruction and amusement. We shall have to
wait a long time to find his like.
Truro, June 1, 1874. R Symons
This short account was prompted by emails from John Ennor of Bath, who is related to Nicholas Ennor, although not a direct descendent. John found that Ennor's will stated that he wished to be buried in a "Delabole Slate tomb with a full size foundation or last stone on my grave to rest on the Quarry not exceeding ten guineas". There is no inscription on the tomb other than his name and date of birth and death. In the 1871 census Nicholas is shown as living next door to the Methodist Church in Trevilley Lane at a house named Churchtown, which must be the building that now includes the shop of that name. His next door neighbour was a William Calloway. This must be the neighbour who is shown as informer and present at death on Nicholas Ennor's Death Certificate, suggesting that he lived there alone. Quite why he choose to live, perhaps alone, in St Teath again after such a long period away we can only surmise - perhaps the village possessed some of the qualities dear to us today - caring, friendly and a great community spirit.
We are greatly indebted to John Ennor for his interest and for supplying extracts from The Mining Journal and other information. Anne Perisic is thanked for discussions.
†His son Adolphus lived at Ennormeade, now Trevellan, between St Teath and Knightsmill for a short period. John Ennor's researches indicate that Nicholas had fallen out with his son Adolphus and most of the remainder of his children were living abroad. Perhaps this is the reason why he died alone in St Teath as his wife Jane died on 19th March 1867. In any case he died in considerable discomfort as his death certificate gives the cause of death as "Enlargement of Prostate duration not known. Retention of urine duration not known. Relieved by catheter 4 days. Coma 16 hours".
*There are several references to Nicholas Ennor in A K Hamilton-Jenkin, Mines and Miners of Cornwall, Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, 1970, Vol 15:p 68,75, Vol 16:p 39,40,43,48, which are publications from the Mining Journal, unfortunately not available at this time.
All in a Good CauseA glimpse at fundraising in St Teath in years gone by
Our village has frequent opportunities for us to get together, enjoy an event and raise funds in the process, be it breakfasts, coffee mornings, lunches, cream teas, concerts, auctions etc. (have you noticed how often food is involved?)! It is interesting to reflect on how the village raised money in the past.
The St Teath Church Log Book records an Entertainment on October 26, 1917, when the audience was treated to songs and recitations, many of which had a wartime theme. The children, trained by Miss Giles, opened the evening with a ‘costume song – Red Cross Nurses’. Mrs. Hartop’s recitation, ‘News from the Front’ followed Miss Williams’ rendition of ‘When You Come Home’. Some light relief was provided by Rev. and Mrs. Kingdon who sang a comic duet, ‘No, Sir’. The children opened the second half of the programme with another costume song, ‘My Golliwogs’ – definitely off limits in our current era of political correctness! Of course, the programme ended with the singing of ‘God Save the King’, and proceeds from the evening were for the Red Cross and the Institution for Blind Soldiers, each of which received £5.10.0 (5 pounds 50 pence).
A ‘Grand Entertainment’ was held in the ‘Council School’, on Boxing Night in 1917 to provide parcels for ‘our boys’ at war. Admission for a ‘reserved and numbered’ seat was 2 shillings (10 pence); front seats, reserved only, were a shilling (5 pence), and back seats were sixpence (2 and a half pence). Featuring the ‘first appearance of the world-famous St Teath Pierrots!’, the entertainment began at 7pm and ‘turning out time’ was about 10pm. Whilst the audience roared with laughter, there was a different sort of roar for many of the local lads, fighting under fire.
The Church Log Book includes a follow-up from the ‘Grand Entertainment’ – a touching handwritten letter from the vicar, the Reverend Claude Kingdon, which is given below.
St Teath Vicarage
What pleasure, and maybe just a small measure of homesickness, these letters must have given to men existing under the most terrible conditions in that winter of 1917, to know that their village was thinking of them. Ninety years on, that caring still remains a strong thread in our village fabric as we continue our fundraising activities.Grace Keat
Treburgett Mine Timeline
A German miner is said to have started mining lead ore under the site.
1817 - 1826
Operations in full swing under manager Nicholas Ennor.
1869 - 81
Reopened again and extensively developed. A period of maximum activity and production.
1920 - 192?
Mine reopened again and new equipment installed. Abandoned for the last time. Do you know when?
Old Treburgett Mine
It is hard to believe that nearby Old Treburgett silver-lead mine once employed about 200 men, women and children around 1875(1) and began to rival Delabole Slate Quarries as the biggest employer in the parish of St Teath. This mine, like many others in Cornwall, has a chequered history and to see the site now (click on image below), one could hardly credit the scale of activity there in the 19th and even early 20th centuries.
Studies of the geology of the area, less than one mile south west of St Teath, have shown that the rock structure predominantly consists of slate, cemented by quartz, in which galena (the main ore of lead) occurs along with iron pyrites and smaller quanties of other minerals. Lead does not occur in its elemental form, but as a heavy silvery mineral galena or lead sulphide PbS, a clean example of which is shown alongside. Metallic lead is obtained from galena by firing (smelting) with carbon in the form of wood or coal. Because of plentiful supplies of coal in South Wales, the ore was latterly transported there for extraction of metallic lead. Silver is also found as its sulphide ores, not as the metal, and can also extracted by smelting and subsequent refining.
Viewing the area
You can take the public footpath from St Teath to Treburgett which passes the remains of the mine. The path is entered through a gate on the left some 2-300 yds up the hill from the bottom of Whitewells road. Aerial views of the area can be seen on www.192.com .
Early accounts of mining at Treburgett are in letters and in early copies of the Mining Journal, which were not available to the author. According to A K Hamilton-Jenkin (2), pioneering mining at the site was thought to be carried out by a German miner via an adit (roughly horizontal tunnel), possibly on the Pengenna side, some time around 1800. Metallic lead was obtained on the site by a smelting.
Surface operations at Treburgett were started in earnest following the discovery of lead ore only two fathoms from the surface. With Nicholas Ennor(1796-1874) as manager, the mine was worked during the period 1817 to 1826. Ennor, a Cornishman, was a celebrated and controversial mining consultant, promoter and correspondent who was involved in mines in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and abroad. Ennor was buried in St Teath. The mine produced a good profit during this phase and was worked to a depth of over 60 fathoms (360 feet). It was said to be one of the richest lodes of lead ore in Cornwall. As late as 1830 the Royal Cornwall Gazette(3) reported that the mine was said to be working with a profit of £2000 - 3000 per year. Unfortunately, the pump used soon after was incapable of pumping water from greater depths and was unable to cope with a large inrush of water from an old section. Because of these problems the mine was abandoned.
During Ennor's time as manager the miners were unaware that the lead ore also contained workable quantities of silver ore. This was established in 1869 and led to the second and most intensive period of work at the mine. A notice in The Times(3) of 29 October, 1869 advertised a propectus for the Old Treburgett Silver and Lead Mining Co. Ltd. with shares offered at £1. The company had a capital of £30,000. There were regular reports in the 1870s of share prices for the company. It was found that the surface waste from previous mining contained significant quantities of silver ore. With this in mind and the prospect of rich seams of lead ore found previously, a new 50 inch pumping engine was installed in 1873 under the management of Captain Hancock. 'Masey's Shaft' to the south west (click on longitudinal section to see original details) was deepened to over 60 fathoms. It was widely claimed that the mine contained the richest seams of lead ore in the country.
'Engine Shaft' was sunk to a depth of 100 fathoms, and over the period 1871-1881 the production of galena and silver was 2,180 tons and 9,530 ounces respectively. Unfortunately, the mine again closed in 1880 because of disputes arising from royalty claims and a relatively low price for lead.
The last and best documented period of activity at the mine was its reopening from 1919 onwards. World War I had not long ended and the majority of labour for the mine came from ex-service men. Treburgett Consolidated Mines, Ltd. began operations in May, 1919, with a capital of £10,000 and commenced pumping in February 1920 under the management of Oswald Swete (designer of St Teath clock tower). He made very optimistic claims for the mine which led to newpaper headlines like 'Joyous reopening', 'Bright outlook' and 'New Start'. Transcripts of these newspaper articles can be found here. In 1920 there were about 45 staff employed there and an original site plan is available. Much work was needed to clear the ravages of time since earlier mining and the area around the top of the 'Engine shaft' needed complete rebuilding. New surface buildings and a road to the site were renewed. The demolition of the old mine stack was shown in a press photograph, to be replaced by a metal stack, perhaps the one shown below.
Mr Swete expected that the output would be 250 tons of ore per week, gradually increasing until it reached 500 tons. The ore was to be transported to Port Isaac Road station for transport to Padstow, thence by ship to Swansea for smelting.
Mining is dangerous
For example, Joseph Bickle, aged just 13, was killed at Treburgett Mine,16/01/1874.
Joseph Bickle's gravestone in the New Cemetery on the side adjacent to the road
Many of these expectations appear not to have been realised, for surely the mine would have featured more in the life of St Teath had there been much activity after 1920. No production details or reports of closure have yet been unearthed by the author. Much of the surplus stone from the mine area has been cleared, some of it going to Davidstow Airfield during the Second World War, probably for runway foundation work.
There were several other lead mining operations in the St Teath area, although on a much smaller scale. To the north, just across the road, lay the sett of Treburgett United mine, and the areas to the north of this including Whitewell, Lower Suffenton, Treroosel and Trewennan were explored. Operations at Wheal Trewennan started in 1845(2) where three lodes were all cut fairly close to the surface. To the east of Old Treburgett Mine, and nearer St Teath, was Wheal Bawden, worked in the 1850s.
In many ways this account of the history of Old Treburgett mine is incomplete, but if you would like to add more information, especially regarding its closure in the 1920s, or correct any statements, then your contribution can easily be included here.
David King (New Zealand, 2008), writes - I can tell you that it had been closed long enough for a wooden trap over a shaft to have half rotted by 1930 when I was given a fright because my younger brother aged about 4 ran over it. I recalled this for several months having nightmares that he had fallen through.
I thank Chris Keat, Anne Perisic, and John Parnell for useful discussions and providing information about the mine. Please let me know if you can add more or have spotted errors (see Contacts page).
(1) Sir John MacLean - The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor in the County of Cornwall. - Part 12 : St. Teath and Temple, London: Nichols & Sons, 1876
(2) A K Hamilton-Jenkin, Mines and Miners of Cornwall, Volume 16, Wadebridge, Camelford and Bude, Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, 1970, pp 38-40 (available in Wadebridge Library).
(3) Many issues of the Royal Cornwall Gazette and The Times can be searched online through the Cornwall Council Libraries web pages (requires membership).
Books - History of St Teath
Sir John MacLean - The Parochial and Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor in the County of Cornwall. - Part 12 : St. Teath and Temple London: Nichols & Sons, 1876. Perhaps the most comprehensive account of the history of St Teath area up to late C19.
Joseph Polsue - Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall, Vol. 4, pp 210-217, 1872, William Lake, Truro
Old buildings in the village
Many buildings in the centre of St Teath are within a Conservation Area. Within this area, which is generally designated by a local authority, lie buildings of special architectural or historical interest. Buildings in the area may not be completely demolished or trees cut down without conservation area consent.
Listing started in 1950
English Heritage has the task of identifying these buildings, based on age, rarity and architectural merit.
Grade I exceptional interest
Grade II special interest
All buildings before 1700 are listed and most between 1700 and 1840.
Grade II* is reserved for important buildings
The bounds of the St Teath conservation area are set out in a document which can be downloaded from North Cornwall District Council's (NCDC) website. The area includes The Square, Teague Terrace, upper Treroosal Road, much of North Street (including the School), Trevilley Lane, Fore Street, the church and all of the older houses behind the church. Refer to the map of St Teath on the Downloads page.
The English Heritage Images of England website contains several descriptions and photographs of listed buildings and old gravestones in St Teath. Try a search for St Teath on the site. Listed buildings and monuments are subject to considerable restrictions on what can be done to them, the objective being to retain essential character.
The Parish Church
This is the only Grade I listed building, probably dating from C13. It is situated on a raised roughly circular churchyard and is surrounded by many mature trees, see here. The general appearance is very pleasing. The church is dominated by a granite battlemented of Norman origin. Both church and churchyard contain many ancient engraved slate gravestones, several of which are described in MacLean's book (see above) on the parish. To the South, the church is flanked by two fine listed buildings, The Stables, and The Vicarage, both now private residences.
Stout Cottage in North Road
Many buildings in the conservation area are Grade II listed. For example Stout Cottage, which illustrates the Delabole slate hanging which is a characteristic of the area. Slate hangings are quite an effective way alleviating the problems of damp walls, since there is a gap between slates and wall.
All listed buildings in St Teath are marked in the NCDC Conservation Area document above and many photographed and described on the English Heritage website. Most of the listings are as recent as 1988.
The Community Centre
The Community Centre, another Grade II listed building, started life as a medieval Church House, most likely about 1520 because of the large amount of timber used in the original construction.
Once pews were put into churches about 1480 a.d., there was a problem of space for plays etc. so the Church Houses were built and used for social and Parish events. Incorporated within these buildings would have been a brewhouse and bakery.
In the 18th Century it became a workhouse for the poor of the Parish. 1823 saw the building as a school. In 1875 there were about 60 sons of farmers educated there. Early 1900's it became a home for unmarried mothers
In later years, it was a Carpenter's workshop and then a Men's Institute where Cock Fighting took place, an acceptable pastime in those days.