My initial interest was not with Penhallam itself but with another pre conquest manor known as Hele which, along with Penhallam and Poulza made up what is now the aforementioned Parish of Jacobstow. Before the conquest of England the land of Hele was owned by Colo who also held the manors of Week St Mary’s. Both Hele and Week St Mary’s were held by my direct ancestors from the middle of the 13th century. My ancestors marriage between the female heir of Weeks St Marys and male heir of Hele links my family with that of the manor of Penhallam, although not linked by blood my ancestors would have been directly involved with the family that held the manor. Unlike Penhallam the home of my ancient family at Week St Mary’s and Hele was probably a timber structure of which there are no remains, this and their land were lost simply due to the lack of male heir.
At the time of Edward the Confessor the people of Cornwall lived a more or less quite life in small settlements and their living earned from land and the sea, they had little or no knowledge of what was going on in the rest of the county let alone England itself. By 1068 the town of Exeter was in the hands of the Conqueror, the people of that city had not given up without a fight and neither had the inhabitants of Cornwall but by at least 1072 William I had total control of England and Cornwall. William held a number of manors in Cornwall himself such as the Manor of Brannel in the south of the county which incidentally becomes the property of the descendants of my family at Week St Mary’s by early in the 13thcentury. On the whole most of Cornwall was held by the conquerors half brother, Robert, Count of Mortain. Under Mortain in the north of Cornwall there were three other powerful men. Turstin the second most powerful man under Mortain who was Sheriff of Cornwall, Richard Fitz Turold, who was his steward, and Reginald de Vallatort.
It is Richard fitz Turold who we are interested in in connection with Penhallam. It is probable that fitz Turolds father was in Mortains entourage and was said to have been in command of the troops that secured Cornwall and was for this reason he was rewarded with Penhallam. It is probable that he built the foundations and moat which circled the later building. By 1087 Richard Fitz Turold succeeded his father at Penhallam still holding it under the family of Mortain. Due to the exploits of Mortains son and the loss of his the families lands Richard Fitz Turold was given Penhallam which he held directly from the king thus setting the family on the road to being one of the most powerful family in Cornwall.
And of Penhallam, that too as we have seen is gone, it is now a protected and cared for ruin, a shell of what it once was. Even today, as mentioned in the first chapter, its remains are a good distance form ‘civilisation’ so its is fair to say that this may have been the reason that it fell into decay.