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Redgate Smithy: The History of a House

(also including photographs taken 2004 to 2015)

Redgate Smithy 2016 Aerial Photo
Redgate Smithy as seen from an aerial photograph taken in 2016

Redgate Smithy was originally built in the early 1800s, and was still a working Blacksmiths even into the 1960s, situated in the hamlet of Redgate. Trade moved, as with many smithies of the day, from wrought iron work, cart fittings, and shoeing horses etc - and in this area, most likely some work for the local copper mines (such as the local Wheal Victoria Copper Mine down at Golitha Falls) - and onto agricultural machinery, tractors, ploughs, combines and any other associated ironmongery that made up rural living. Much in the same way that the old coach makers moved from horse-drawn coaches to cars. This is certainly evidenced by the photographs below, particularly the one showing a combine harvester packed outside, and the large workshop!

Redgate Smithy 1965
The smithy and shop as it was seen from an aerial photograph taken in 1965
(print supplied by Skyviews Aerial Archive)

We are still trying to trace the rest of the history of Redgate Smithy, and the picture is building all the time. The last Blacksmith here, who was more of an Agricultural Engineer (as machinery played more and more of a part in rural life), was Ivor Pengelly, husband of Ellen Pengelly. John Trevillion was the sitting tenant and Blacksmith who originally bought Redgate Smithy from the Treworgey Estate in 1927. He died in 1959, and was the father of Ellen Pengelly. Before John Trevillion came to Redgate as the Blacksmith, the Smith who worked here (and was presumably the tenant of the Treworgey Estate who lived here) was Sam or Samp Wilton. Sam Wilton, from the 1901 census, was aged 65 at that time.

The photo below is of an old smithy (as has been depicted in the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre); and it is a scene like this that would likely have been witnessed during the 19th century inside the old smithy shop and forge at Redgate Smithy. The forge at Redgate Smithy was in the right-hand end part of the house on the corner. In the 1965 photo above, the forge chimney has been removed, and what looks like a corrugated roof added.

Redgate Smithy Forge
The scene in an old Smithy and Forge (as depicted at Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre)

Unfortunately, records relating directly to Redgate Smithy prior to 1927 were destroyed in a fire at Treworgey Manor some time ago, but maps dated early in the 1800s show that there was certainly a building on the site of Redgate Smithy at that time. The smithy would have been among the first buildings in what is now the present hamlet, apart from the two farms that have given Redgate its name - these being Higher Redgate Farm just up the Minions road, and the closer Lower Redgate Farm that was originally opposite us, and is now a house. Both Higher Redgate Farm and Lower Redgate Farm are marked on the copy of the "New and Accurate Map of Cornwall" (by Thomas Martyn, 1748); displayed at Lanhydrock.

Further details from research carried out into the earlier history of Redgate Smithy will be added here in due course.

The photograph of Redgate Smithy shown below is thought to date from around 1910, but this is not confirmed. One of our neighbours, now sadly passed away, remembered some of the people in the photograph, but names are now lost. The name S. Wilton appears on the sign above the window, and the forge was under the chimney at that end. The middle part of the house was a workshop that opened onto the lane (see 1965 photo).

Redgate Smithy 1910
Redgate Smithy (c.1910)

Redgate Smithy 2003
...and as a comparison, Redgate Smithy when we moved here in 2003

During the 1990s, Redgate Smithy was beautifully transformed into a fully restored and refurbished private house by the previous owners, and in 2004 we moved here ourselves, and further converted the property into Redgate Smithy B&B - a welcoming and friendly Four Star Bed and Breakfast...

Redgate Smithy B&B

Redgate Smithy 2004 New Colour
In 2004, a new colour, and we transformed into Redgate Smithy B&B...

Redgate Smithy B&B
Redgate Smithy as a 4-star B&B (2009) - photo courtesy of David Lade

Redgate Smithy B&B
Redgate Smithy B&B - photo courtesy of David Lade

Redgate Smithy B&B
Redgate Smithy B&B, with breakfast tables in the conservatory overlooking the garden

We had a full breakfast menu, but the firm favourites were always the Redgate Smithy Full Cornish, and the Redgate Eggs Royale. We served any other combinations requested, plus Mushroom and Eggs Platter, the occasional specials like Eggs Benedict, and Hogs Pudden. Tasty memories!

Redgate Smithy Full Cornish
The Full Cornish with proper Bodmin Moor sausages!

Redgate Smithy Eggs Royale
Redgate Eggs Royale was also a very popular choice.

In 2007, Redgate artist David Young painted a wonderful picture of Redgate Smithy B&B for us, reproduced below. You can see more of David's work on his website at David Young; together with Bev's work on her website at Beverley Young.

Redgate Smithy Painting
Redgate Smithy B&B in 2007 ~ as painted by local Redgate artist David Young

Birds and Wildlife

One of the pleasures at Redgate Smithy, especially as a B&B, has been watching the birds feeding from the feeders hanging on the log store by the patio, giving us one of our by-lines "watch the birds over breakfast". Sitting in the Conservatory looking out, or sitting out in the garden on one of the patios at Redgate Smithy, the birds can always be seen visiting and feeding, or wheeling and soaring overhead. Among our visitors and regular feeders on and around the patio are Nuthatches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Willow Tits, Coal Tits, Robins, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Bullfinches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Add to that the Buzzards wheeling overhead, the visiting Jays and Thrushes, and we have an aviary on the doorstep!

Redgate Smithy Log Store Birds
Looking out from the Conservatory and Breakfast Room to the bird feeders
(on the right feeder, there is a Nuthatch already feeding)

We also seem to have a selection of visiting mammals. With the bats of a summer's evening, and the occasional hedgehog, we also have mice and voles resident in and around the logstore and cornish hedges (usually named Victor and Maurice through their various generations), and every now and again a shy bunny, or a not so shy at all, grey squirrel. Very, very, occasionally, we find two at once as in the photo below!

Redgate Smithy Rabbit and Mouse
Quite a wild moment - both a rabbit AND a mouse caught near the log-store by the patio!

Lastly, it is not always easy to spot our little mammal visitors under the bird feeders, but they can be spotted when you wait and look very patiently...

Redgate Smithy Spot Maurice
Spot Maurice! (he really is there somewhere, bold as brass...)

For a few memories of our garden during our B&B days, over the changing seasons, see the Redgate Smithy Garden page.

For information at Redgate itself, see the Redgate Hamlet page.

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