The church is situated amidst the sand towans at the very extreme point of the parish, where it is bounded on two sides by the Hayle estuary. It is said to have been almost covered towards the early part of the last century by one of those drifts of shell-sand which occasionally overwhelmed this coast. In 1738, subscriptions were collected from the neighbouring gentry towards clearing the church of the sand, and restoring it for divine service.

Several great inundations of sand appear to have covered this coast at distant periods, from whence they were drifted over the adjoining lands. Their progress has however, been completely arrested by the planting of the sea rush, commonly called bent, the Arundo arenaria of Linnæus. This rush grows readily in sea-sand, where it mechanically opposes any motion on its surface, and favours the formation of a grassy turf. Both church and churchyard have for a long period been free from any influx of sand; and the adjacent towans are already covered with vegetation, and will at no very distant period form extensive and highly valuable grazing commons.

There is a tradition that a town of some magnitude, having a market and a custom-house stood near the church, when the river Hayle afforded deep water without the aid of engineering skill, and before S. Ives had risen into importance. Foundations of houses have certainly been discovered under the sand; and the tradition is somewhat confirmed by the distinction paid to the neighbouring village, which is universally called Lelant Town and not Churchtown, as in other parishes.

Lelant, as the mother church of S. Ives and Towednack, is alone provided with a glebe; but this land, amounting originally to nearly sixty acres, was considerably encroached upon by the sand, and wholly unfitted for a residence. An ancient vicarage house is believed to have been buried at the last great inundation; and the parish remained without a resident clergyman for a considerable period. In 1835, however, a site was granted by Mr. Praed, on which the Rev. U. Tonkin, the recently deceased vicar, erected the present substantial and commodious residence.

It does not appear to whom the rectorial estate passed immediately from the college at Crediton; but in the seventeenth century it was vested in the Maynard family. Through the marriage of Sir Henry Hobart, Knight, equerry to William III. at the battle of the Boyne, with Elizabeth, eldest daughter and coheir of Joseph Maynard, Esq., it became the property of the Earls of Buckinghamshire, one of whom sold it to Humphry Mackworth-Praed, Esq., the ancestor of William Backwell Tyringham, Esq., of Tyringham, Bucks, and Trevethow, in this parish, the present proprietor.

Trevethow, sometimes called the manor of Lelant and Trevethow, anciently belonged to the family of Bottreaux. In 1295, Edward I. granted a market to the then lord of the manor, William de Bottreaux, to be held at La Nant, now Lelant town, on Thursdays. Trevethow afterwards became the property of the Godolphins, from whom it passed to the Praeds.

William Praed, of Trevethow, gentleman, died in 1620, leaving by Prudence his wife one son, James, and three daughters. James Praed, the son, took an active part in the civil wars on behalf of Charles I. At the restoration his name was included in the list of Cornish gentlemen proposed to he honoured with the order of the Royal Oak; his estate being valued at that time at £600 per year. He was sheriff for the county under the Commonwealth, in 1654, and elected M.P. for S. lves in 1660 and 1661. John Praed, probably a younger son of the member for S. Ives, also represented that town in several parliaments. He died in 1717, when Trevethow and other property of the Praed family went to the Mackworths of Glamorgan. There are two distinct accounts of the passing of the Trevethow estates to the Mackworths; first,— “The last male heir John Praed, Esq., M.P. for S. Ives in 1708 and 1710, died in 1717, leaving a daughter and heir, Martha, who married William Mackworth, Esq., third son of Sir Humphry Mackworth, Knt., and had three Sons.” Second,— “The family became at last represented by two brothers; the elder distinguished as Colonel Praed, married a Basset of Tehidy, but died soon after, leaving all the personal property to his widow. The younger brother succeeded to the real estate; but having been unsuccessfully engaged in trade, and finding the farms mostly leased on lives with the payment of small quit rents, according to the custom of those times, he became more and more embarrassed; till meeting with a gentleman of the family of Mackworth, in Glamorganshire, bred to the higher department of the law, he arranged with this gentleman, that on being freed from all pecuniary difficulties, and receiving a certain annuity for life, the whole Cornish estate should be transferred to Mr. Mackworth; on the further conditions of his taking the name of Praed, and what seems almost ludicrous, of his engaging, so far as the consent of one party could be sufficient, to marry Miss Penrose, of Penrose, near Helston, the heiress-at-law to Mr. Praed’s estate.”

The latter is considered the more reliable account. At Mr. Praed’s death Mr. Mackworth came into possession, and having performed every engagement to the utmost of his power, he went to Penrose with an intention of consummating, so far as lay in his power, the final condition of his inheritance; he however not only did not succeed, but found some difficulty in escaping with his life.

The validity of the transfer of the property was ultimately disputed on the part of Miss Penrose; but at the trial an arrangement was made between the claimants. Miss Penrose married William Pearce, Esq., of Penryn, and their sole heiress, Grace, married Alexander Cumming, Esq., of Altyr, in Elgin, ancestor of Sir William Gordon-Cumming, Bart.

Mr. William Mackworth-Praed settled at Trevethow, where he was succeeded by his son, Humphrey Mackworth-Praed, Esq., one of the most distinguished men of his adopted county. He was M.P. for S. Ives, 2 George Ill., 1761, and for the county 13 George III, 1772. He married Mary, daughter of William Forrester, Esq., and relict of Sir Brian Broughton-Delves, Bart., of Broughton Hall, Stafford, and had six children.

William his eldest son and heir; Herbert, rector of Ludgvan, who died early in life and four daughters,—Catherine, Mary, Arabella, and Julia.

Mary married the Rev. Wm. Sandys, vicar of S. Minver, and died without issue. Thee other three never married.

William Praed, Esq., the eldest son, married Miss Backwell, of Tyringham, in Buckinghamshire, who eventually became sole heiress to her very wealthy family. He represented S. Ives in six parliaments, and Banbury in one. To Mr. Praed the nation was indebted for the construction of the Grand Junction Canal, a medium of transit of great importance before the days of the railway.

Mr. Praed died in 1833, and was succeeded by his son, James Praed Esq., M.P., for Buckinghamshire, the county in which ho chiefly resided. He married Miss Chaplin of Lincolnshire, by whom he had several children.

William Backwell-Tyringham, Esq., son of Mr. James Praed, has dropped the Cornish adjunct of Praed; and although the proprietor of the mansion and grounds of Trevethow, and other valuable property in its immediate neighbourhood, he has made Tyringham his home.

It is somewhat singular, that after a residence of more than a century in this county, no permanent connexion has been formed by this family, nor one relative left behind.

Trevethow House is one of the most pleasantly situated mansions in West Cornwall it is surrounded with plantations, and overlooks the estuary of the Hayle. The house was almost rebuilt by Humphrey Mackworth-Praed Esq., in 1761, who displayed considerable taste in its decorations; the front, which is ornamented with a pediment, is built of native granite ashlar. To this gentleman Cornwall is indebted for the introduction of the pinaster fir, the Pinus Pinaster or maritima of Linnæus.

The arms of Pinned of Trevethow, are— Azure, six mullets argent 3, 2, and 1

The arms of Mackworth,— Per pale indented sable and ermine, on a chevron gules five crosses patée or.

The arms of Tyringham,— Azure, a saltire engrailed argent.

The arms of Backwell,— Argent, on a chevron sable three covered cups or.

The above coats of arms may be found on the funeral hatchment of William Praed, Esq., in the church.

Gunwin, or Goonwhyn, the White croft, was for a long series of years the property and residence of the respectable family of Pawley. Stephen Pawley died in 1635 Hugh Pawley died 1721, and by Judith his wife, left seven children; Hugh Pawley, the last of the name at Gunwin, died in 1760. One of the family married the heiress of Trestane, and another the heiress of Brea or Bray.

Gunwin, together with some other remnants of property, latterly came to Miss Jane Pawley, sufficient, however, to give her the reputation of an heiress; but misfortunes and disreputable conduct reduced her to the extremity of soliciting alms from those who had once looked up to her, when she held a superior position; and this representative of an ancient family died in the poorhouse.

The arms of Pawley are— Argent, a lion rampant sable, on a chief indented of the last three mullets of the first.

The arms of Trestane are— Azure, three stone pillars argent, on a chief vert three lapwings proper.

The above coats of arms may be found on a monument in the church.

Gunwin is now the property of W. B. Tyringham, Esq.

Immediately behind Trevethow house, rising to an altitude of 550 feet above the sea level, is Trecrobbin Hill [Trencrom Hill]. On its top are the remains of an ancient fortress, which originally consisted of a single wall, with gateways, constructed of large stones and earth, and occupying the whole area of the summit.

The name of this hill is variously written,— Torcrobin, Trecrobn, “the round town,” and Trencrobben.

Trembethow, is said to have been the voke-lands of a considerable manor before the Conquest. Afterwards it became the property of the family of De Als, whose name was latterly changed to Hals. They are said, with some probability, to have descended from John de Als, lord of the barton of Ale, now Alse, or Alsa, in S. Burian.

John Hals, of this place, was serjeant-at-law, and one of the twelve judges of the realm 9 Henry V., 1421. John Hals, also of Trembethow, married a daughter and co-heir of Hydon or Heydon, of the county of Devon; and from this marriage the Devonshire Halses are supposed to have sprung.

Serjeant Hals is said to have sold Trembethow to the Godolphins. Temp. Queen Elizabeth it belonged to the Mohuns. The barton and manor are now divided as follows,— one-third to Tyringham; one-third to Champernowne of Dartington, Devon; and one-third equally divided between the families of Stephens, Tremayne, and Rodd, as representatives of the family of Hearle.

The chief villages are Lelant Town, where there is a Primitive Methodist chapel built in 1859; Tredreath, where there is a large chapel, with a granite ashlar front, surmounted with a turret containing a clock, and inscribed— “Wesleyan Chapel, built A. D. 1834;” Trencrobben; and Trink.

There are also Wesleyan Methodist chapels at Carbus Water, Polpier, and Boldstamps; and one belonging to the New Connexion at Cheyengweal.

The principal landowner is William Backwell Tyringham, Esq.

The present representative of the ancient Cornish Praeds is Sir William Gordon-Cumming, Bart., of Altyre, Elgin.

The western part of the parish rests on granite, which is generally coarse-grained and crystalline, often with large porphyritic crystals of felspar; here and there it contains beds of porphyry, or elvan courses, and also of shorl rock, sometimes in masses, but more frequently in the form of large and irregular veins. This granite has been productive of metallic ores, and more particularly of tin.

The eastern part is composed of rocks belonging to the porphyritic series. The principal varieties are felspar rock, both massive and schistose, and green-stone. The soil derived from these rocks, as is often the case near granite, is on some spots very fertile.

At the extreme western border of the parish much tin has been raised; and at the other extremity, near the sea shore, both copper and tin have been found in the belt of greenstone which generally interposes between the granite and the sea.

Large quantities of fire-clay leave been exported to Wales from one of the Trevethow estates; it realized 10s. 6d. per ton, and was used for laying the bottoms of the copper smelting furnaces.

There are some neat villas and cottages at Lelant Town and Tredreath; and the scenery from the churchyard is very interesting.

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