When Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Nankivell lived there, John Opie, the renowned local painter, visited them, his sister being in service there. Ada Earland, in her book John Opie and his Circle says, "Mr. Thomas Nankivell of Rosenvale and his daughter, Joyce, had also been kind to the boy"; there is a tradition in the family that Opie painted young Mrs. Joseph Townsend (Joyce Nankivell) out of gratitude for assistance she had given him in his artistic training. Joyce Nankivell was a local beauty, possessing "great sweetness and animation." The name of her father's house, "Rose-in-Vale, is said to have been given as a pretty compliment from a visitor to this fair Cornish flower set in the deep valley in which stood the house." Joyce has been described elsewhere as "The Belle of Mithian."
Along the right of the path is an old water-leat which once provided water to power a mill. After a short distance you will find the ruins of Magor's Mill and two cottages complete with trees and bushes growing out of the derelict cob walls. The gristmill, still in use in the early 1900s, is where local farmers would bring corn for grinding into animal feed. Get the timing right (early Spring) and you will see a carpet of daffodils and bluebells covering the wooded bank, once referred to as the Daffodil Gardens. Continue along through the woods and out on to the path across open fields with the river bubbling and gurgling along to your right. Cross the first field via the stile to the left of the animal shelter. At the end of the second field, in the bottom right corner, you will pass through a kissing gate and then over a stile to the Perrancombe tarmac road where you turn left up the hill.
Opie was the son of a carpenter, his talent was recognised by John Wolcot, who trained him and took him to London in 1781. Opie achieved immediate success as a portrait painter (becoming known as the 'Cornish Wonder') and from 1784 painted a distinguished series of subject pictures. He exhibited at the RA 1782- 1807, being elected ARA in 1786 and RA in 1787. In 1805 he was elected Professor of Painting at the RA; the lectures which he delivered in 1807 were published posthumously.
On your right is a thatched cottage, Harmony Cott D, the home of one of Cornwall's historic sons, John Opie (1761-1807). Known as The Cornish Wonder, he was a talented and acclaimed artist who became a professor of painting at the Royal Academy and was eventually buried in St Paul's Cathedral. As a young boy he was indentured to his father who was a carpenter. In this he helped his father with household repairs and was working in Mithian at the house of Benjamin Nankivell when he saw a picture of Ellenglaze farmyard. Lakes "Parochial History of Cornwall", tells us, "he would frequently introduce himself on some pretence or other and was observed to take sly peeps upon a farming-picture and then go hastily away to sketch it. He also drew an exact likeness of Mrs. Nankivell's cat". Continuing to the top of the hill we now rejoin the B3285 and turn left back towards St. Agnes.