History & Team
Connections to ancient Welsh royalty. Beer flowing from screw top bottles. A British war hero named Power. If these walls could talk they’d tell tales of the Carnes, a family who shaped Falmouth’s history.
Built in 1913 by local merchant George Newby Carne, Merchants Manor was originally named Garras, Cornish for ‘The house on the hill’. Although locals dubbed it ‘Screw Top Mansion’, as the Carne brewery was one of the first bottlers to use the new screw top cap.
George lived in Garras with his wife Annie and son James Power Carne, who would later receive a VC for his bravery during World War II.
A 400-year history
The Carne family in Cornwall can be traced back as far as 1559, when the Earl of Rutland sold Trevaunance Manor in St Agnes to Richard Carne. Richard was a nobleman descended from the Carnes of Glamorganshire in Wales, thought to have direct links to Ithal, King of Gwent. His coat of arms, a pelican feeding her young, can still be seen today on the roof of St Agnes church.
Shipping, banking and beer
Fast-forward to Falmouth in 1745 and another Richard Carne, George’s great-great grandfather, went into business with London merchant John Camin to form shipping, importing, banking and mercantile company Camin and Carne. When Camin died, Richard took over the business, adding to their diverse repertoire the distilling of wine and spirits and the brewing of beer.
As well as working for the family firm, Richard’s son John worked as an agent for the East India Company and became a key figure in the community. He served as mayor of Falmouth and even found time to father 16 children. His sons William and Edward followed in their father’s footsteps and established the W & EC Carne Brewery on Killigrew Street in the latter half of the 19th century. William was also instrumental in bringing the railway to Falmouth, even sacrificing his own back garden so the tracks might be laid.
Winds of change
Having inherited the firm from his father William Naylor Carne (nephew to William and Edward), George was the fifth generation of the family to be involved in trade and brewing. He sold the company when he retired in 1921 and just five short years later the brewery closed its doors for good, ending a Falmouth institution that had lasted 150 years.
As for Garras, two sisters purchased the house in 1958 and ran it for almost 50 years as the Green Lawns Hotel. Current owners Sioned and Nick, like the Carnes, hail from Wales – bringing back the Celtic connection.