Nancealverne House history


The earliest parts of Nancealverne House date from Elizabethan times but the house was significantly enlarged in the 1700s and there were further changes funded by prize money received from the Battle of the Nile at the end of the 1700’s. Since it was built, the house has been the home of soldiers, sailors, tin mining entrepreneurs, gentry farmers and members of the legal profession. Many of these individuals and their family members are shown in the collection of portraits at the house. You may wish to enjoy spending time exploring the history of the house and its former occupants and learning about the momentous times they lived in.

Nancealverne Nelson & The Battle of The Nile


The Battle of the Nile was a major naval battle fought between the ships of Napoleon’s French Republic and the British Royal Navy, led by Rear Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. Two members of the owner’s family who lived in the house fought at the battle.

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The battle took place at Aboukir Bay off the coast of Egypt and concluded on 3rd August 1798 with a significant victory for the British fleet. It was a bloody battle with huge loss of life but Nelson’s place in history was secured as he was transformed into the hero of his age. Nelson’s unorthodox tactic of attacking the enemy at night proved to be decisive.

John ScobellFamily member John Scobell was a young Lieutenant of Marines on HMS Alexander at the battle. Several portraits of him hang at the house. Each August he would hold a dinner at the house to celebrate the great victory, when he would entertain his former comrades from the battle. Later in life he went on to form the Cornish Militia, which was a response to the perceived threat of invasion by Napoleon.

John PeytonAnother family member, Captain John Peyton, was the Captain of HMS Defence and was one of Nelson’s trusted “Band of Brothers.” He wrote a letter to his wife Susannah from the scene of the battle, which is one of the few letters containing a contemporary account of the events to have survived. Here is a transcript:
Defence off the Nile
August 13th 1798

My ever Dear Love,

I wrote you by the Leander who sailed from hence the 6th instant with the Admirals dispatches since which we have been busily employed refitting our own ships and prizes. Tomorrow we shall sail & make the best of our way to Gibraltar or Lisbon – & I should hope ultimately to England – at any rate my own Dear Susan, we shall be better situated to hear from each other – no small comfort to both parties – I have my fears you will hear of our action through France before the Leander can probably arrive in England & that in consequence you as well as many others will be kept for some time in a state of anxiety.

The more I think of our victory, & its consequences the more I am gratified – & if Bonaparte should fail in his expedition – which we here flatter ourselves he may – I believe peace not very far distant…the 3 frigates Alemene & Emerald and Bonne Citoyenne that have been looking for us these two months are now coming in – truly mortified they must be – in not meeting us until after the action. I hope to have John to dine with me. I think the Captains will get two thousand pounds perhaps more if our prizes all get to England. The Emerald has just passed us & gone to endeavour to free one of the prizes that is aground so that I fear I shall not see John. I must send this to Capt. Capel who leaves us this afternoon…

Believe me ever your faithful affectionate husband

John Peyton

P.S. I find myself a stouter man since the action, another such would make me a fine young fellow, God bless you.

Nancealverne House - Poldark Connection


The house was the former home of early pioneers in the Cornish tin mining endeavours. Family members were involved in developing Wheal Owles and Wheal Hermon which were perilously situated on the cliffs close to Wheal Leisure, the mine depicted in the recent Poldark television series.

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A collection of of their letters from the early 1700’s describing their trials and tribulations were found at the house and have now been placed in the Cornwall Public Records Office. A number of these adventurers are depicted in portraits hanging at the house.

The fluctuating fortunes of these early mining adventurers can be seen in these extracts from the letters, which reproduce the original spelling;

July 22nd 1736
‘In the main St. Just is as poor as ever. I long to get rid of my Adventures there, & would immediately if I could get any value for them. For what with Pursuers charges etc. I am very certain no other Adventurer stands any Manner of Chance… I hear three Guineas are given at Truro, but this unhappy Affair of Minorca puts everything to a Stand. I hope those who are in fault will receive their Deserts.’

January 23rd 1754
‘Gwele Olds continues very well, they raise 100 Sacks p Week or thereabouts with two or three picks. The Air will not permit them to work Day & Night as they hoped, & as mentioned in my last.’

April 29th 1754
‘I could heartily wish that every Letter of mine was the messenger of better & better News, but I think of late it has prov’d just the Reverse. Hermon where we had great Expectations is at present in a very low, languishing condition. Of the four Tribute Pitches We had there last Quarter, the two Best are knock’d off. Lawry, who gave 13 ½ out of 24, holed into old workings, so there is an End of that, having broke about 240 Sacks of good Stuff”.

December 26th 1754
‘There is really at present a very good Prospect in Gwele Olds. The two Tribute Pitches go on very well. – There are four Picks on the Owners Acct on the Backs over the New Addit – nearly opposite the Smith’s Shop, who begin to raise Tin fast, the Load two feet wide in one Place they discover’d it last week four feet, the stuff they value at 20 p hundred: after the Holidays they intend to put in two Picks more, that will be three by Day, & three by Night; It holds very well both to the East & West.’

Nancealverne House - Duke of Marlborough


Another former family member, Colonel John Armstrong, served with the Duke of Marlborough in his European campaigns.

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As the King’s army surveyor, John Armstrong was instrumental in breaking the siege of Bouchain in 1711 and is shown together with the Duke in a formal portrait depicting the successful outcome of the battle.

We have had such a fantastic time I really do not want to go home. The house is magnificent and the gardens are out of this world. We didn’t visit many places as we didn’t want to leave this lovely place. The lake was paradise.
Nancealverne House was once again the perfect holiday house for us. Very comfortable, clean and full of history. We enjoyed everyday especially watching the series Poldark. They should really film at Nancealverne House!!! Thank you family Armstrong for making this house one of the best in Cornwall!!
Dr. Boenisch
Our loveliest holiday yet at Nancealverne. This really is a most attractive and relaxing home in which to stay and we never cease to delight in all that it has to offer.
Nancealverne is so impressive - enchanting would not be too strong a word! I doubt there is any other holiday home like it!
Professor Chase
Looking out from the front windows seemed like going back 100 years in time. I felt like I was actually in 'Pride and Prejudice'!
First impression on arriving at Nancealverne House - stunning... such a beautiful house. It has been filled with fun and laughter, afternoon tea and BBQs, boating on the lake, adventures in the woods and we hope to return.