Historical background

Arthur's StoneArthur's Stone - The most significant feature on the site is the famous “Arthur Stone’ dated to the 6th century. This stone has inscriptions on it in ogham and latin, from which the stone is dated. The most common interpretation of the latin inscription is LATINI IC IACIT FILIUS MA[..]RI, meaning ‘[the stone] of Latinus, here lies the son of Ma[-]’ or ‘[the body] of Latinus lies here, son of Ma[-]’. MA could variously have been MAGARI, MAGAIRI, MAFARI and MACARI. All that is now readable of the ogham is [-]NI.

The stone may have lead to the site being associated with King Arthur's legendary last battle. However, the earliest record of the battle tradition is by Leland in 1538 “By this ryner Arture fawght his last field yn token wherof the people fynd there, in plowing bones and harneys.’ The first reference to the stone is later in 1602. What the people may have been found may have been evidence of the battle fought here in 823 between the Cornish and the Saxons, which lead to a chantry chapel to be built for the souls of the slain. In 1864-5 a “scimitar shaped sword’ a gold collar and spearheads, now lost, were found near the stone, but the picture of the sword suggests this may date from the supposed skirmish that happened here during the English Civil War, as a cannon ball was found near Worthyvale.

The stone is known to have been moved at least twice, once to be used as part of a footbridge, and then again to be placed by Lady Falmouth at the foot of a cliff in her gardens. So its original location is not known. However, these memorial stones were generally placed beside roads, and it now lies close to ford of at least medieval date, so it has probably not moved far from it's original location.

Worthyvale - Worthyvale was first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as GURDEVALAN. In later centuries the barton (the buildings) were separated from the manor estate of Worthyvale. The present building is thought to be early 17th century and possibly extended in the mid 17th century. The Slaughterbridge which incorporates the gate piers for the drive of the house, is also thought ot date from this time. However around 1700 it is remodelled when the Boscawens have become resident. The house was bought in 1674 by the Boscawen family of Falmouth to use as a country residence for the eldest sons, and possibly as a base for hunting on Bodmin Moor. The Boscawens sold the property in the late 18th century. It then passed through many changes of ownership being used as a farm, without major alterations.

Old Melorn - The settlement of Melorn is first recorded in 1296. The name is thought to come from the Cornish for stone MEN and fox LOWARN. By the time it is bought by the Boscawens in 1674 it seems to have been reduced to merely a single farm. The Parsons family (who now own the site) became tenants before it was demolished by the early 19th century. Neither the placename nor the buildings of Melorn appears on the 18th century maps. The Tithe Map of 1838 shows no buildings or enclosures on the site, but MELORNE is shown as a name for five fields around the area now being excavated. The Ordnance Survey map of 1887 shows the square earthwork that overlies the buildings as it was prior to excavation, and labels them OLD MELORN. MELORN appears half a mile to the West.

Lady Falmouth’s Garden - Charlotte Godfrey (1685-1754) was eldest daughter of Colonel Charles Godfrey, master of the jewel office, and Arabella Churchill. Arabella was sister of the John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, who won the battle of Blenheim in 1704, and who built Blenheim Palace. Before her marriage to Charles Godfrey, Arabella was mistress to King James II having two sons and a daughter by him. On the 23rd of April 1700 Charlotte married Hugh Boscawen (c.1680-1734), the surviving son of Edward Boscawen MP for Tregothnan where the families main residence has been since 1335. They moved into Worthyvale, which may have been rebuilt for them as “HB 1703’ is carved above the door. The garden may have been started at this time when the house was improved.

By 1720 Hugh has become the first Viscount Falmouth and they are living with their 9 children at Tregothnan. He had the previous year been a chief speaker for the peerage bill, and so was maliciously nicknamed ‘Lord Foulmouth’. Contemporaries also described him as ‘a blundering honest man’ and ‘a blundering blockhead’. In 1727 Charlotte tried to obtain the place of lady of the bedchamber to the Queen, but she offered a bride to get Mrs Clayton to speak to the Queen on her behalf, which so much offence she never spoke to the queen, and Charlotte's ambition at court ended there.

On the death of her husband in 1734 Charlotte fell in to legal dispute with her own children over her right to stay at the family seat of Tregothnan. She appears to have lost as she returns to Worthyvale by 1738 and stayed there until her death on March 22 1754. While there she built or improved the gardens including the quartz cobble mosiac that bears her initials.

The only source documentary source for the garden is Borlase in 1754. “This inscrib’d Stone, nine feet nine inches long and two feet three inches wide, was formerly a foot bridge near the late Lord Falmouth’s seat of Worthyvale. It was called Slaughter Bridge, and, as tradition says, from a bloody battle fought on this ground, fatal to the great King Arthur. A few years since, the present Lady Dowager Falmouth, shaping a rough kind of hill, about 100 yards off, with spiral walks, remov’d this stone from the place where it served as a bridge, and building a low piece of masonry for it’s support, plac’d it at the foot of her improvements, where it still lyes in one of the natural grotts of the hill.’ So the garden was complete for sometime by 1754. This implies that the stone was sent up below the cliff in it’s current position at the base of the cliff, and not as has been suggested by some at the foot of the mound, and having since fallen down the cliff. Also as he states “lyes’ rather than stands, it may possibly have been deliberately placed on its side to use as a bench, or to more closely resemble “the tomb’ of King Arthur, that it was thought to be.

The garden quickly vanishes, for many later writers visit the stone, but no mentions is made of the garden. In fact with the arrival of the railway a ticket office is built on the site. It becomes truely lost until trampling by cattle reveals a few of the quartz cobbles in the late 1990s. The Tithe Map of 1839 calls the field that contained the mound “Folly’ which probably refers to a garden structure that once stood upon the mound, and the two fields to the north are called “Higher Castle Park’ and “Lower Castle Park’. Whether this refers to a garden feature or something else is unclear. But the walled garden that is still there today, is shown and labelled as a garden, It is halfway between the house and the garden site. It may be the only surviving feature of a formal landscape on the approach to the house. The mound survived as a slight feature until the late 20th century, when a house was built on the site.