2019 Season: Tuesday 2nd of April to 29th September

History of Enys

History of Enys

The house

The present house is most likely the third to stand there. No information regarding the original property has been traced. The previous (second) house was an Elizabethan or Jacobean E-shaped mansion. It was built prior to the Civil War, most likely by John Enys (1578-1655) or possibly by his father, Thomas Enys (1538-1614).

The illustration of the house by William Borlase from about 1758 shows a large E- shaped house over two levels.  The layout was probably introduced in the 17th century by Samuel Enys (1611-1667). Although little is known in detail concerning the house, the hearth tax records of the 1660s indicate that Thomas Enys was charged for eight hearths.

Some of the foundations of this house have been found under the latest house servants’ wing.

In the 1820s disaster struck when the house burnt down, though John Samuel Enys (1796-1872), who inherited Enys in 1821, may well have seen it as an opportunity to build a house in keeping with ‘modern taste’. Several plans exists for the rebuild, which were not adopted, including two plans for a larger house which were discarded before the present design was settled on.

Mid 1830s, dressed with silver granite and using some other stone quarried from within the estate

The building work for the current house was underway by August 1830 and completed in the mid 1830s. The family moved in May 1836.

The two-storey main house has an abutting three-storey servants wing.  Some of the tall ground-floor windows in the main house are false. This may have been to reduce a window or glass tax, or it may have been to maintain architectural symmetry from the outside while allowing furniture to be placed against walls inside.  A lantern sky-light floods the elegant hall and landing with natural light, but sadly, it’s complicated wooden drainage system rotted out, intensifying the damage that the house suffered. Cast-iron girders, that were probably made in nearby Perran Foundry and that helped secure the second-floor during the period of disrepair, confirm that the building was at the forefront of early nineteenth century architectural engineering.

A water-wheel, still visible beside the lower lakes, was installed to pump water to the house and to reservoirs nearer the house in case of another fire.

Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, improvements and upgrades were made to Enys, including the installation of central heating. However, soon after the war broke out Enys was requisitioned by the War Office for the use of the Royal Netherlands Naval College.

It was well suited for this purpose due to the accommodation it offered and its proximity to the Carrick Roads, a safe deep-water anchorage where practical work could be undertaken. The mansion accommodated the officers. Training rooms and buildings were constructed on the Mowhay (adjacent to the courtyard) for the use of the cadets.

After the War ended, the Enys family briefly occupied the house and it was thereafter used as a boys’ boarding school for a short period of time. From then on Enys has remained uninhabited.