The truth about Truro

One of the most frequent enquiries we get on this website and in search engine referrals is about Truro House. Not everyone knows its name. Sometimes its the ‘old house on the corner’ or ‘old house opposite the Town Hall’. It seems like Truro house has always invited curiosity.

Friend of this website Betty Wright lived in the Town Hall from 1926 to the 1950s and has kindly sent us this press cutting from 1974. Back then Truro House, given that it was built around 1850 or 60, was not much older, relatively speaking, than many of our own houses today – just over 100 years. Even then it seems to have been a bit of a mystery.

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We seem to know the following. It stands on  the site of the Kings Arms pub – Oakthorpe Lane was once Kings Arms Lane.

Peter Brown of the Broomfield Museum Trust also tells us in his fascinating leaflet on Truro House that the land was once owned by Thomas Wilde (1782-1858) first Baron Truro who  lived at Bowes Manor and was Lord Chancellor from 1850-1852. The estate was then purchased by Alderman Thomas, and there was a Truro Cottage on the site in 1867’s ordnance survey site. However, neither Wilde nor Sidney appear to have lived there and it seems like the house may have been rebuilt or remodeled around 1890 when it was occupied by Frederick Colliver, a stock jobber, and his family.

From 1898 it was owned by the Davis family: Miss Charlotte Davis lived there from 1936 to her death in 1995 with her French housekeeper, Mlle Florence Zanotti. Peter tells us that while she was there, she allowed the Southgate Civic Trust Trees Group to inject the eleven elms which stood in the garden to try and save them from Dutch Elm disease – unfortunately without success. She also sold part of the land for the building of Honeysuckle House.

I have heard people say that Miss Davis liked to keep herself to herself, but I would love to hear from people who knew her. Graham Dalling used to tell the story of how, when the Enfield Local Studies Team were based in Palmers Green Library, he and David Pam went knocking on the door, only to be sent away with a flea in their ear.

The fate and more recent goings on in the house remain a bit of a mystery. Is it occupied? Currently there seems to be a small enclosure and the vegetation seems a bit more under control than usual, but perhaps that’s just the recent bad weather.

Perhaps most interesting is the call from writer of the 1974 article, one ‘Fuimus’ to consider the status of the house in the borough, a call which could have been made yesterday and has so far been unheeded. It and the Town Hall are the only buildings with open space fronting the New River, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, but which we hardly seem to make anything of in Palmers Green.

Truro House is a beautiful and sizeable  but not large building, with mature trees which have a tree preservation order. The gardens could be a wonderful public space, and the building may have potential as a community meeting place. I am just saying.

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29 Responses to The truth about Truro

  1. Tony Elliott says:

    An application for listed building consent for restoration of Truro House, and construction of two blocks of flats in its grounds (near the New River), was submitted on 29th November 2008 – Planning Ref LBC/08/0024. According to the online Planning Register, the application has never been decided, so I guess it must have been “informally abandoned”? I must admit I haven’t looked at Truro House recently.

  2. Basil Clarke says:

    A couple of times in the last year or two I’ve seen a young woman with a child in a buggy coming in or going into Truro House, and I’ve also seen washing on the line and windows that are sometimes open and sometimes closed. So I’m pretty sure it is occupied.

  3. Sarah Cotton says:

    Another lovely bit of local history. Truro House is definitely occupied as I see lights on and washing hanging from an upstairs window regularly although never see anyone coming or going….if the house was privately rather than publicly owned, how to preserve if for the greater good?

  4. Tony Elliott says:

    I note that Truro House is on the agenda for the Area Forum meeting at Trinity at Bowes Church next Tuesday (16th April).

  5. erol says:

    As a child we climbed over the fence from the river bank and had a look around. The gardens were huge. down one of the sides of the house theres a bit were you walk through a door down some stairs and at the bottom there was a large pile of coal.

  6. tim says:

    Truro house is occupied. I’ve been in the house about 5 years ago now. The people are in their with the owners permission, ive been told, but the building is in a bad way! Huge cracks in walls etc.
    Inside the rooms are enormous and have such fantastic feature’s, in its day would have been the best around. I would guess It needs over 500k worth of work to get it back to former glory.

    a real piece of history.

  7. Reet Hales says:

    Please save Truro house!!! Its a great building and not many around these days!!

  8. Carol and David colliver says:

    My husband grandfather frederick penberthy colliver lived in truro house and my late father in law was born there. He had two older brothers Artie,Bertie. Alec(edward) was my late father-in-law Two of the three brothers were mentioned in dispatches during ww1.
    We believe Truro house was named after Truro and they were Cornishmen originally.After Truro house they moved to Chaulden house in Boxmoor.
    We do not know too much about the history of either houses and it was a wonderful suprise to find it mentioned .
    Carol and David Colliver

  9. Jenny Hirshberg says:

    is it haunted? I bet it is!

  10. chrissy says:

    I’ve also seen activity around the house recently. My sister and i were very curious and interested in the wonderful house we creeped into the grounds { naughty really but couldn’t help it } only to be approached by a man with English as an additional language and we were just
    able to understand that he and his family have permission from the council to stay at the property..like a temp contract…is that legal when its a listed building it belongs to the public right .

  11. Shareen says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by Truro house. When we were kids we’d tell each other that the house was haunted. It doesn’t look that scary when your an adult :)
    Me and my husband so want to have a look at the building I think we might have to do what you did Chrissy and creep onto the grounds at some point this week. As previous comments state I’ve too seen washing out and lights on in the house. But I don’t believe the current residence have permission by the council it’s not in a safe state to be living in. The house is In serious need of some TLC. However as long as the current residence are taking care of it I have no issues with them staying there. But I soooo would love a tour inside the building.

    • Suzanne Beard says:

      I think from what I hear that the residents have permission and have a protection by occupation arrangement. I notice that they have begun to do some work on the garden and the box hedging at the front (there was box hedging in the same arrangement in pics from the 1930s ish so its excellent they are taking care of it, probably going beyond what their arrangement is with the owners. Please don’t wander into the grounds. We’d all love to see inside but I am conscious that its their home!

  12. Selina Davis says:

    Truro House is owned by the same people who own Princess Park Manor in New Southgate and Royal Connaught Park in Bushey- Comer Homes Group http://www.comerhomes.co.uk

    • Suzanne Beard says:

      That’s the first time I had heard of that Selina, thanks for the information. When did that happen, or are Rainbow Homes a subsidiary or linked company. The listing recommends that the house isn’t divided up in any way. There will be an article on Truro house in Palmers Green life this month – I have done a bit more research and it has a fascinating history, more so than I had thought. I will post it on the site too nearer publication date….

  13. alexandra clark says:

    I lived in Grange Park in the 1970’s/ early ’80’s and we used to shop at Palmers Green every Saturday. I remember a car park at the back of some shops which had an exit point next to or very near Truro House. All I can remember is my Mum and Dad telling me stories of a young lad getting molested there by a man and that either the man went to prison or the lad killed himself. There, little ray of sunshine that I am. My Mum and Dad both had lived In Palmers Green for many years from the 50’s onwards. I would like to know what really happened there.

  14. Jenny Hirshberg says:

    We managed to get into the grounds one evening and saw a white cloudy vapor near the back door. It moved in a deliberate fashion and seemed to form a shape before evaporating, We didn’t hang around……..

  15. anneabelle13 says:

    I am a lady living local to Truro House and only today (10/8/14) noticed the beauty of this building for the first time. I was so much in awe of the design and architecture of this building and what must have been most stupendous in its hey day. The character is still there for all to see even today. I have read the historical background on the website and it seems that it is shrouded in Mystery. Could it be, (not necessarily for me to say) that it may be occupied by non-fee paying occupants or do we have another recluse style descendent in occupation. Is it not possible for someone with the knowledgeability and know how to further investigate without being too intrusive. Surely Enfield Council must have some or further knowledge as to the circumstances and occupancy of this building. Not to the extent to upset a possible legal resident in occupancy at this present time. If Enfield Council was eventually able to acquire this building, it could make a beautiful preserved building of its period and possibly a museum of a sort for all to enjoy. Not to create such a situation for the future with added modern buildings in its beautiful grounds. We all understand that society in circumstances such as this have to move forward but it would be such a great pity for such a historical building and its lovely grounds to be spoilt by such modern additions. I have lived in Enfield all my life and it would be nice to see something such as this preserved for local people and interested parties to enjoy. To conclude it would be so nice to see this building restored to its former glory, I would be in awe and able to enjoy looking at it every time I passed.

    • Chrissy says:

      Yes.. and we are once again being tolerant which always seems to leave the public being denied an insight and our children being denied important history and being able to explore this wonderful house..a museum would be fab..

  16. Like many others, I found Truro House fascinating when I passed y on the bus. I have always liked doors in walls. So you can imagine how pleased I was to being going through that door when I had reason to visit Miss Davies.

    This was in 1990 when she was 92. I was greeted by her housekeeper and led in through a kitchen that dated from the early part of the (last) century complete with range, then through another kitchen with more modern appliances then in to the main hall. This was a room in itself, with a grand fireplace. At the top of the stairs there hung a beautiful full length portrait of a gowned Miss Davies, dating I should imagine, around 1920.

    She held court in a vast room, that acted as a sitting room and bedroom on the first floor overlooking the garden. There was a fascinating little staircase that led up out of the room – how I wanted to explore! Opposite Miss Davies’ room was another grand panelled room, barely used, looking as if little had changed during Miss Davies’ lifetime (apart from electricity!). How I would have loved a guided tour! She told me she has lived in the house her entire life.

    I always felt that this should have been left as a museum – as Miss Davies had no children to inherit her amazing home.

    • Suzanne Beard says:

      Lindsay, that is the most amazing comment, thank you, I know that everyone will love it. Can I repost in the main blog under your name. How did you come to need to call on Miss Davies?

  17. Marcella says:

    Truro House will be released for sale very soon by Comer Homes Group

  18. Shareen says:

    So I noticed works have started on the beautiful Truro house. Yes it’s owned by Comer homes. I have no doubt they will turn this house into gorgeous luxury apartments. But I’ve always dreamt of taking a picture of me standing by the front door as it is now. Do you reckon i would be allowed to do this? i think asking for a tour would be pushing it. It’s an iconic house of N13.

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