The following description is lifted directly from [Lysons 1814]. It must be read in the context of that date.
St. Burian, commonly called Burian, in the hundred and deanery of Penwith, about six miles south-west from Penzance, which is the post-town, and about two miles from the western extremity of the island. It contains, exclusively of the Church-town, the small villages of Bolleit, Boscawen-Oon, Boscawen-Rose, Penberth-Cove, Rosemoddris, Treeve, Tregadgwith, Trelew, Trevorgans, and Trevorrian. There was formerly a market on Saturday and St. Burian, granted to the dean by King Edward I., together with two fairs, one at the festival of St. Burian, and the other at that of St. Martin, in the winter.j
King Athelstan is said to have built and endowed a collegiate church at this place in honour of St. Burian or Burien, a holy woman who came from Ireland in company with St. Breaca and other devout persons, and received sepulture here. The foundation is attributed to a vow made by that monarch at the Oratory of St. Burian, before he went on an expedition to the Scilly Islands, and he is said to have granted to it the privilege of sanctuary. An ancient building on an estate called Bosliven, of which the walls are now remaining, about twelve feet high, overgrown with ivy, is said, by what is most probably a groundless tradition, to have been the sanctuary, and is held in much venerationk. It stands about a mile east from the church, and about two miles from the sea. It appears by the Domesday survey that there were secular canons in this church at the time of the conquest. When the Lincoln taxation was made, the establishment consisted of a Dean and three prebendaries, as it continued till the Reformation. The collegiate estate was held by the services of saying 100 masses and 100 psalters for the souls of the King and his ancestorsl. The deanery having been seized by King Henry VI., because its incumbent was an alien, was given by that monarch to King’s College, in Cambridge, and not many years afterwards, by King Edward IV., to the Dean and Chapter of Windsor, but neither of those societies long possessed it. The deanery of the royal chapel of St. Burianm is a dignity held immediately under the crown; the Dean exercises an independent jurisdiction in all ecclesiastical matters within the parish of St. Burian and its dependent parishes of St. Levan and Sennen. The three prebends belonging to the church of St. Burian were called Prebenda Parva, Prebenda de Respermel, and Prebenda do Tirthneyn; the former is now in the gift of the Bishop, the two others are annexed to the deanery of St. Burian.
The manor of Treviddron, still the property of the Vyvyan family, was their original seat, and continued to be their residence till they removed to Trelowarren. The fee of this manor appears to have been in the Champernownes in the reign of Edward III.o On this estate, by the sea-side, are the ruins of of an old chapel, called that of St. Loy or St. Dillower.
The manor of Tresidor belonged to the family of Whalesborowep; it is not now known as a manor: the barton belonged for many years to the Tresilians, and was sold by their representatives, Mrs. Jenkins, to Mr. John Weymouth and Mr. John Permewan, jun., who are the present possessors.
The manor of Rosmoddris was in severalties in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when four-fifth of it were granted to St. George Carye, and sold by him to Ezekiel Gross, Esq. This manor is now partly the property of Lord Falmouth, and partly of James Buller, Esq. M.P. by descent from Mr. Grosse.
Boscawen-Rose was the original seat in this county of the ancient family of Boscawen, who took their name from it. It appears that they were possessed of this place, which is still the property of their descendant, Lord Viscount Falmouth, as early as the reign of King John. The Boscawens removed to Tregothnan, their present seat, in consequence of the marriage of their ancestor with the heiress of the Tregothnan family in the reign of Edward III. Boscawen is now a farm-house. On Boscawen-downs is the circle of stones called Boscawen-oon.
Trou or Trewoof, beautifully situated on the side of a woody hill, overlooking a romantic valley, which is terminated by Lamorna-cove, was the seat of the family of Levelis, which is said, by what appears to have been an erroneous tradition, to have been settled there before the Norman conquestq, and which became extinct in 1671, when Trewoof passed by marriage to the family of Vosper, since extinct. Hals speaks of two coheiresses of the Vospers, to one of whom this estate was assigned. It has since been divided into severalties: the house is occupied by a farmer. Within this barton is a triple entrenchment, in which is a subterraneous passage, and it is said that during the civil wars a party of royalists were here concealed from the observation of Sir Thomas Fairfax’s army by Mr. Levelis. There is a chalybeate spring on this estate.
Pentrea of Pendrea, in this parish, was for many years a seat of the Pendreas, whose coheiresses married Donnithorne and Noy. The latter inherited this place; and here, says Hals, was born William Noy, attorney-general to King Charles I., a learned lawyerr, who dies in the year 1634; his grandson sold Pendrea to Mr. Christopher Davis, from whose family is passed to that of Tonkin, in which is is still vested. Burnuhall in this parish, another seat of the Noys, which was sold also to the Davis’s, belongs now to the Boscawen family; this house is said by some to have been the birth-place of William Noy. Pendrea and Burnuhall are now both farm-houses. Leah or Leigh, now also a farm-house, was a seat of the Grosse family, and afterwards of the Usticks. It is now the property of John Scobell, Esq., who married the heiress of the family last-mentioned. Boskennan, in this parish, formerly belonging to the Carthewss, is the seat of John Paynter, Esq. whose family have been settled there ever since the reign of Charles II.; they were originally of Deverel, in Gwinear, afterwards of Trelisick, in St. Erth.t
The parish-church stands on the highest ground in that part of the county, 467 feet above the level of the seau. In this church is a handsome roodloft; an ancient tomb in memory of Jane wife of Geffery de Bolleit; and a memorial of the family of Levelis, the last of whom, Arthur Levelis, Esq., died in 1671. The Dean of St. Burian is rector of the parish, and is entitled to all the tithes: a visitation court is held in his name, at which the churchwardens are sworn, wills proved &c.; the appeal fro this court is directly to the King in Council. This preferment is in the gift of the crown as a royal peculiar, and is tenable with any other. The deanery was, through Bishop Ward’s interest, annexed to the see of Exeter, but was separated from it again before the year 1709.
St. Loy’s chapel has been already spoken of; there are the ruins of another on an estate called Vellanferga. A school has lately been instituted, under the management of certain trustees, who provide a house for the master and pay him eight guineas per annum for teaching seven poor boys.
j Cart. 30 Edw. I. 26.
k The sanctuary no doubt, as was usual, comprised the church itself, the church-yard, and perhaps a certain privileged space beyond it. The remains of the building to which the tradition attaches are probably those of an ancient chapel.
l Esch. 20 Edw. III.
m The incumbent is called in old records Dean of the King’s free chapel of St. Burian. (See Cart. 30 Edw. I.)
n Unless is were the same as Tirthney, it appears that there was formerly a fourth prebend belonging to this church, called Trethia or Trethyn, on which was a chapel. By certain proceedings relating to it in the year 1328, it appears to have been in or near St. Burian. (See Rot. Parl., II 19.)
o See Carew’s Survey, f. 39, b.
p Esch. 5 Ric. II. 5 Hen. V.
q It appears to have been the family-tradition by a monument in St. Burian church, but the pedigrees of the family do not trace them higher than six generations above the year 1620. They were originally of Castle-Horneck, whence they removed to Trewoof, on marrying the heiress of that barton, which match, according to Hals, took place in the reign of Henry VIII.
r Author of the “Grounds and Maxims of the Law,” “The compleat Lawyer,” &c.
u Dr. Berger’s Paper on Cornwall, in the Transactions of the Geological Society.
Additions and Corrections
To the villages, add Alsa, Selena, and Tregurno. The present possessor of Pendrea is the Rev. Uriah Tonkin Moore. Boskenna and Boskennal both belong to John Paynter, Esq. Triclodevas, and old seat of the Gross family, belongs now to the devisees of the late John Knill, Esq.