Lived at Woodlands (now Lapfordwood House) from 1902-11 as a widower with a young family. Significantly increased the size on the estate in 1910 when he purchased additional land at an auction at the Malt Scoop Inn Lapford. Vice-president of Lapford shooting club.
Charles was born in Bodmin in 1853 and bore the name of one of Cornwall’s ancient families, the Vivians who, around this time, were particularly involved in copper smelting, tin mining and banking s. Charles’ was not however a direct Vivian descendent. His grandfather, John Tippet b.1784, took the name of Vivian when he succeeded to the estates of “Pencalenick” on the death of his first cousin James Vivian.
John Tippet Vivian, was a partner in the Cornish Copper Company, a copper smelting company based at St.Ives Bay, Hayle. The company built pumping engines, iron sailing ships, plant for gas-works, flour-mills, saw mills, Cornish boilers etc . He was also a partner in Helston Bank, founded in 1788 by his wife’s father, Thomas Grylls at the age of 28. He accumulated much land and property in addition to the family home of Pencalenick. On his death his estate passed to his wife, Cordelia, including the partnership in Helston Bank. She took an active involvement in the banking business, unusual for a woman at that time, and this cintinued into her old age.
Charles’s father, John b.1818 , was the eldest son of John and Cordelia. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity Hall, Cambridge and became Rector of Cardynham, Cornwall. He died before his mother so her inheritance passed directly to Charles’s elder brother John.
Charles married into a prominent family. His wife Constance, known as Margaret, was the daughter of Lady Protheroe Smith of Tremorvah, who was well known in Truro for her work with the poor, and Sir Philip Protheroe Smith, twice Mayor of Truro, and in office when the foundation stone of Truro Cathedral was laid. Two of her brothers were Hugh, High Chief Constable of Cornwall, and Philip, Grand Secretary of Freemasonry in England.
A curate in Yorkshire between 1878 and 1880, Charles returned to in his home county of Cornwall for the next 21 years He was curate at Grampound (1880-3) and rector of Ruan Minor (1883-8) and Creed (1888-95), where he succeeded Rev. Philip Woolcombe, the husband of his aunt Marianne. Whilst at Grade he was Hon.Secretary of the Cadgwith RNLI.
A different clergyman, Rev. Harry Vyvyan, had a remarkably similar career. The two men were both working closeby in York during 1878 -80. Charles took the living at Grade with Ruan 1883-1888, wheres Harry took up the same role ten years later in 1898. Both Charles and Harry took up the position of Hon Secretary of the Cagwith RNLI . The two men were not closely related, but the Vivian and Vyvyan families had ancient ties so their common link to the Lizard parish of Ruan and to the Cadgwith lifeboat may not have been entirely coincidental. Harry became nationally known when on 24 March 1907 the S.S. Suevic, nearing the end of her voyage from Australia to Southampton, ran aground on the Maenheere Reef off the Lizard Point, Cornwall. In dense fog. the darkness of night and a strong south westerly gale four rowing lifeboats rescued 456 people from the White Star Liner. 85 of these were children; 60 were under 3 years of age. They were in open boats and at the mercy of the sea. It must have been terrifying and yet they went back to the Suevic time and time again. This was not only an outstanding performance by the men who rowed out time and time again to the rescue but the village men and women who winched the boats ashore. The rescue took almost 16 hours but not one life was lost. The event remains the biggest ever rescue operation in the history of the RNLI. Harry played a vital role in the rescue. At one point in raging seas he jumped from the Cadgwith lifeboat on to one of the two ship’s boats and safely guided it back to land. When he tried to return to the Suevic with the boat, the sailors were unable to cope and it was smashed on the rocks. Unperturbed, the Rev Vyvyan swam back to shore and waited for the Lizard lifeboat to return, whereby he “proceeded to the wreck where he assisted generally and superintended taking the passengers on board”. Describing how he steered the Suevic lifeboat to shore, he said: “I went on board to steer her but soon found the six men could hardly pull against the wind…I can tell you I felt jolly proud when she touched the beach and all the women and children were landed safely. Directly I landed my passengers, I stood up in the bows of the boat and called for volunteers to go back with me.” He became a focus of subsequent news reports of the event. His story captured the attention of the public – not only did he take a prominent role in the rescue, but as secretary of the village’s lifeboat he was in an honorary position that did not normally involve putting out to sea – moreover, he was a clergyman! The inspector of lifeboats, writing from Lizard lighthouse, wrote, “Such heroic acts derve to be brought before the notice of all British people, and the work of Mr.Vyvyan on the night in question is one of those acts of devotion that should not be passed over and left in obscurity”.
Charles was at Lapford at the time of Harry’s heroics. He had left the Lizard in 1895 having fathered six children.
- Violet Bertha– Red Cross Nurse
- Gladys Eveline– Red Cross Nurse
- John Guy Protheroe– Navigating Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy. Captained HM Newcastle
- Margaret Ursula– Red Cross Nurse
- Gerald Herbert Everarde– studied electrical engineering at Faraday House, London, where he was awarded the Gold Medal, and having been an electrical engineer in Mexico since 1909 came home in 1918 to serve. After training in an R.E. Officer Cadet Battalion, received an honorary commission in March, 1919. Became Director of Associated Portland Cement
- Charles Roderick Hugh– died in WWI in France fighting for the Canadian Cavalry.
Many of the family belongings at Creed rectory were sold in a sale on August 14/15 1895. The sale list was large suggesting that the family moved to furnished accommodation, but the location is not known.
In 1898 the family moved to Barton House, Morchard Bishop. As this was the living of Morchard it is assumed that Charles came as rector of the parish. His time at Barton House was a sad one. In January 1899 a few months after moving in, Margaret, his wife, died in the house from Typhoid Fever contracted during a trip to London. She was only 39. A year later his mother died whilst visiting the house and getting a cold which turned to pneumonia.
In the 1901 census Charles (47) is described as a retired clergyman. He was staying at the Grand Hotel, Northumberland Avenue with daughter Violet(19), with most of his other children at Barton House.
These could not have been happy times in the house and sometime before Jan 1902 Charles had moved into Lapford Wood (which had been empty since March 1901;owner Mrs Gwynne died in June 1901).
Charles lived at Lapford Wood for about 10 years He contined to work as a JP and to manage his estate. In 1910 at an auction at The Malt Scoop Inn he purchased Ball Hill, Popes Wood and Arrable/ Pasture land. He became actively involved with the Lapford Shooting Club where he served as vice-President alongside Frank Moulton-Barrett (vice-president) and Rev Altham (President).
He left Lapford in 1911 and moved to Bideford. He maintained an association with Lapford shooting club for a few years after his move. He first lived at The Downes, then Rose Hill. where he was on the phone from about 1920.
During WW1 he was on the local Emergency committee and an almoner at Bideford hospital. His youngest son Roderick pictured below), who had moved to Lapford age 8, was killed in action in France with the mounted Canadian cavalry.Left England 1908 for Canada, where he engaged in farming near Winnipeg. Letters from Canada prove with what affection and esteem he was regarded there. In 1915 he enlisted in Lord Strathcona’s Horse and had been at the Front for some two years with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Shortly before he died he was home on leave, as his father wrote, ” such a great bright, happy boy.” He had refused to allow his friends to obtain him a commission and, whilst still a Trooper, died of wounds on April 3rd , 1918, and was buried in a British Cemetery at Namps au Val, eleven miles S.E. of Amiens