A DISCUSSION ON THE BUILDING OF THE LIBRARY
IN RELATION TO THE GRANGE AND TITHE BARNS
In the assessment of the existing structure, as has been exposed, it is curious to note that the rear of the Library has been constructed over an older construction. This is vaulted, out of alignment and not square with the main House and is battered on the outer lower face. The arched vault was constructed at the sane time or before as the end walls, as seen in the cellar and exposed. The remainder of the building was constructed on a base of partially cut rock. Edmond Prideaux's, drawings clearly show a two storey building with a steep pointed roof, behind a high wall, having steps up the face, or near the wall. If this part of the building were constructed at the same time as the house, why was there any necessity for the construction of this massive arch and the battered lower walls? A lot of work for just two storeys.
As excavation into the wall and under the library floor progressed, the construction of the steps which led from the lower garden up to the upper garden could be seen, built separately from the main wall – these show on Edmond Prideaux’s drawing.
The other question which has not been satisfactorily resolved is that of the South front doors/window. Just where they came from was not clear but it is obvious that they were not made for the opening in which they are set. The stone opening is a different profile and size. There is evidence of older fixing systems on the timber of the window. There were two other pointed roofed buildings on the site at one time or another, one at the South East corner of the Wilderness Garden and the other at the edge of the Terrace walk, as exists now, near the House.
The question is therefore as to the purpose of the two storey building on Edmond Prideaux’s drawing, when it was constructed, with it's vaulted basement. There was a door leading from the rear of the Saloon, now the Reading Room, presumably to the rear yard, since it has been established that the staircase, in it's present form did not exist at that time, but it is still further questioned as to why the access between the staircase vaulted cellar and the vaulted cellar below the Library had to drop below the general floor level, and why the head of the access passage had to be dropped so low.
The amount of flat slate at the top of the walls and over the vaulting, suggest that this may have been a walkway of some kind, perhaps an entrance. The vaulting is set so far into the wall areas that it must be asked as to the purpose of the vaulting when it was constructed and why was stone selected to form an upper floor, as opposed to the timber floors used elsewhere. There is no structural reason for the vaulting unless there was something there before which required such immense strength.
Considering the amount of cut into the ground, at this point, why was it necessary to form the lower storey in the first place – it would have been cut out of the solid rock. Unless it was a gateway into the rear yard or a Chapel or the base of a much taller building, such as a tower, especially bearing in mind that it is out of true with the House. It has no alignment whatsoever with the main House.
Henderson is of the opinion that Prideaux Place is built on the site of the tithe barns, with the likelihood that a grange manor was built on the site, in the meantimes. This agrees with my own suspicions, since amongst the documents at Prideaux Place was a list of Tithes in an "Exemplification of Recovery" of goods landed at the "keye from every barke and bolte".... of "Apples or other fruytes","Grayne, Corne and Salte","I_yme, Lathes or Coles" and "Fishes". C 5 Edward IV - 15 Nov 3.
In Henderson's History of West Cornwall, he states that "The Manor of Padstow is not mentioned among the lands of St. Petroc in The Domesday, although it belonged to them at this date: The Barton or Grange was at Gwarthandrea or 'the upper town' and this at the Reformation became Place House".
These comments and others which have been quoted and commented upon elsewhere in reports for The Holy Well, etc., underline the possibility that some of the original grange buildings were used as part, or at least, their foundations used to set out the new house in 1588. This grange was connected with the monk's cell at Padstow, as part of the Monastery of Bodmin, administering the Manor of Pawton and, in particular managing and storing the tithes. Also there would have been farming and all the necessary associated buildings would have been on the site. It is suggested that the only chapel on the site, prior to The Church across the road being built, was The Chapel of St. Samson, although there may well have been a smaller building dedicated to St. Petroc, at an earlier time. Having taken stone samples from around the House and making comparisons with the various parts of the building and the stone used from the Prideaux Quarry, this confirms the history of the development of Prideaux Place and the possibility that the Library is built on an original part of the tithe barns.
As far as the library is concerned, the strength of evidence on site, points to the fact that the two-storey pointed roofed building, shown on Edmond's drawing, existed before the main House was built, and that the massive ground floor construction, with the solid first floor, indicates that the building would have been much taller.
If the illustration in Lysons Magna Britannia is taken as a guide, there was a tower at St. Bennet's Monastery, near Lanivet, which is not dissimilar from the tower I have in mind.
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