It’s a grade II listed building in Cornwall – and it links the real-life inventor James Watt with the fictional Poldark books.

Cusgarne House is a rather imposing mansion in the small village of the same name, around six miles from Truro.

It’s currently a private home – however, history fans can rent cottages in the grounds.

James Watt, his business partner Matthew Boulton and their families took up residence in the house in the 1780s. The men were busy providing their improved steam engines to Cornish mines.

Alex Monks (nee Pascoe), who lives in the house with husband Terry, says: “When James Watt left in 1801, my family acquired the lease and purchased the property some years later. I am the sixth generation to live in the house.

“As we have children and grandchildren, there are two more generations who come to stay here too.”

Drawing of Cusgarne House, from the "Lives of Boulton and Watt".
Drawing of Cusgarne House, from the “Lives of Boulton and Watt” by Samuel Smiles, published in 1865.

And being Cornwall there is a connection with those Poldark books . . . .

Says Alex: “My cousin, Bruce Pascoe, remembers that (the author) Winston Graham came to the house during World War II. He met and talked to my grandmother who lived in the house at that time.

“He will have been working on the first Poldark novels.

“The Poldarks were a family of mine owners and their fortunes depended heavily on their mining ventures.

“One of the principal characters in his early novels was Elizabeth Chenoweth (latterly Elizabeth Warleggan), whose first husband was Francis Poldark.

“The Chenoweth family home was an old house at Cusgarne. It was here in Book Four that Warleggan came to propose marriage to her.”

Alex and Terry rent out two cottages in the grounds to holidaymakers. Visit their website for more details.

You can also go on a walking trail to discover sites linked with James Watt.



In his book, “Lives of Boulton and Watt”, published in 1865, author Samuel Smiles writes about Matthew Boulton and James Watt and their time in Cornwall.

The book says: “To increase his influence among the adventurers and secure the advantages of a local habitation among them, Boulton deemed it necessary to take a mansion capable of accommodating his family, and which should serve the same purpose for his partner when sojourning in the neighbourhood.

“Boulton’s first idea was to have a portable wooden house built and fitted up in the manner of a ship’s cabin, which might readily be taken to pieces and moved from place to place as business required. This plan was, however, eventually abandoned in favour of a residence of a more fixed kind.

“After much searching, a house was found which promised to answer the intended purpose,—an old-fashioned, roomy mansion, with a good-sized garden full of fruit trees, prettily situated at Cusgarne, in the Gwennap valley.

“Though the United Mines district was close at hand, and fourteen of Boulton and Watt’s engines were at work in the immediate neighbourhood, not an engine chimney was to be seen from the house, which overlooked Tresamble Common, then an unenclosed moor.
“Here the partners by turns spend much of their time for several successive years, travelling about from thence on horseback from mine to mine to superintend the erection and working of their engines.”

You can read more of the book online.

The entrance to Cusgarne House from the "Lives of Boulton and Watt", published in 1865.
The entrance to Cusgarne House from the “Lives of Boulton and Watt”, by Samuel Smiles, published in 1865.