Saturday, 18 April 2015

P is for the Patron Saint of Cornwall – St Piran - and Pixies …

Saint Piran was an early 6th century Cornish Abbot and saint, supposedly of Irish origin.  He is the patron saint of tin-miners, as well as of Cornwall … although Saint Michael and Saint Petroc also have claim to this title …

St Piran c 6th century

The Irish, in their wisdom, decided St Piran was not for them … tied him to a mill-stone ... rolled it over the edge of a cliff into a stormy sea ... 

Yes - it's a weather map ... but
it shows Ireland in relation
to Cornwall's peninsula

... which immediately became calm ... and the saint floated safely across the Bristol Channel to land upon the sandy beach of Perranzabuloe … near to Perranporth and Newquay.

St Piran's Cross in the sand dunes
at Perranzanbuloe

… his first disciples are said to have been a badger, a fox and a bear … before he was joined by other Christian converts, who together founded the Abbey of Lanpiran.

Tin lode

Saint Piran’s flag is used as the symbol of Cornwall … and came about as St Piran ‘rediscovered’ tin-smelting (tin had been smelted in Cornwall before the Romans’ arrival, but the methods had been lost) …

Droplet of smelted tin

… at his hearthstone … the stone with the tin-bearing ore started to melt which formed a silver-white cross within the heated slab stone … St Piran’s flag.

This is not in print
- unfortunately

I expect St Piran was guarded by Pixies … the mythical creatures of folklore … they are believed to inhabit ancient underground ancestor sites such as stone circles, barrows, dolmens, ringforts and menhirs ... see my N Neolithic post .. 

Pixies playing on the skeleton of a cow -
drawn by John D Batten c 1894 (c/o Wikipedia)

There are any number of names for these legendary creatures … Pixies are generally benign, mischievous, short of stature and attractively childlike … they are fond of dancing and gather together to dance through the night.

The Cornish Flag

That is P for Saint Piran who landed at Perranzabuloe, near Perranporth, and became the Patron Saint of Cornwall and of tin-miners, guarded by the Pesky Pixie clan … from Aspects of British Cornish ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 17 April 2015

O is for Onen Hag Oll and Oddities …

Onen Hag Oll … is the Cornish motto: One And All!

Heraldic Emmet
(from Finland)

That’s that then … done and dusted … easy peasy … One And All in the A-Z … here we go on our way to various oddities to amuse …

Samuel Pepys and Tea: on Tuesday 25th September 1660 after some business discussions … Pepys ‘did send for a cup of tee (a China drink) of which I never had drank before, and went away’. 

Tregothnan's Tea in a box

The Tregothnan estate today produces Cornish tea, and Cornish Cream Teas in a box … that are shipped around the world.  I’ve posted about tea and the Tregothnan Garden Estates in three posts ... if you care to pop up and look via the search box.

The Rillaton Gold Cup was found when the Barrow, on the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor, was excavated in 1837 along with human remains, grave goods, a bronze dagger, beads, pottery, glass and other items …

Rillaton Gold Cup

The finds were sent as Duchy Treasure Trove to William IV (1765 – 1837) and remained in the royal household.  

After George V’s death in 1936 the importance of the Rillaton Cup and associated dagger came to be appreciated … George V had been storing his collar studs in it!!  They are both on permanent loan to the British Museum … sadly the other items disappeared … if they had been stored, then today with our modern abilities more could have been ascertained about the Barrow.

Roasted Cornish Hen with vegetables
Cornish Game Hens – I’ve been asked about these on other occasions … so now perhaps it is something I can clarify!  Cornish Hens – well known, I gather, in the States – are an immature bird, which is a cross between the Cornish Game and Plymouth or White Rock chicken breeds … it develops a large breast over a short period of time compared to game hens.  It is not a game bird.  And though called a “hen”, it can be either male or female.

White Plymouth Rock Hens
Alphonsine “Therese” and Jacques Makowsky of Connecticut are credited for developing the small bird in the mid-1950s.  They cross-bred the Cornish game cocks with various chickens and game birds, including a White Plymouth Rock Hen and a Malayan fight cock, to develop the Rock Cornish game hen, a succulent bird suitable for a single serving.

This brings memories for me -
the little Red River coming out of
the dunes at Godrevy and Victor Borge
was a favourite of my uncle and aunt

The musician and comedian Victor Borge was both an investor and promoter of the Cornish Hen in the early years … changing it from an exotic into a common household meal.

These are the sandworkings inland
near Camborne/Pool

Copper Sands, Seas and Shells … when we were children we played on the beach at Godrevy (the lighthouse opposite St Ives in the bay) … the little Red River (Dowr Koner in Cornish) appearing from the dunes stained the sea, sands and thus shells …

Red River and its course

You can see its course starts in the hills of one of the main early mining districts: Camborne and Pool …now (tin mainly) mining has stopped the river is back to its normal colour … but it used to amuse us …

Emmet – this is a pejorative nickname that some Cornish people use to refer to the non-Cornish … perhaps those “furriners” or Welshmen … I seem to have referred to on occasions in these postings!  
c/o John Dyer Gallery  

Emmet is thought to derive from the Cornish-language word for ant, being an analogy to the way in which tourists and ants are often red in colour and appear to mill around!

That is O for Onen Hag Oll and Oddities … no Oddballs, yet no Ordinary Objects can be Omitted from O for One and All … from Aspects of British Cornwall …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 16 April 2015

N is for the Neolithic era, stone tools and stones …

Now the Need to show you some New Stone Age (Neolithic) sites, Standing Stones, Stone Circles and Quoits which will fall under N …

Chapel Carn Brea, near Penzance

So for your dose of Neolithic Cornwall here goes …... the Neolithic period dates from around 4,500 BC to 2,100 BC, when the Bronze Age came in …

10,000 years ago the ice sheets were receding with England once again being re-occupied … Paleolithic Era (Old Stone Age) finds have been evidenced, while Mesolithic sites (Middle Stone Age) have been identified at Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor and along parts of the North Cornish Coast.

Dozmary Pool
The New Stone Age (Neolithic) peoples were beginning to settle, had a knowledge of agriculture and built some permanent settlements.  They are known as Tor enclosures … with the best one being at Chapel Carn Brea, St Just (near the Botallack mines).

Lanyon Quoit, near Penzance
Quoits, Stone Circles, Standing Stones and Stone Alignments all appear in the Neolithic era … burial chambers, known as quoits in Cornwall, are called Dolmen, Cromlechs, Portal tombs or graves … these usually have one chamber covered with a capstone, supported by two or more upright stones …

Men An Tol on the Land's End peninsula
(c2,000 BC) .  Many people believe that
passing through the stone will cure ills
and infertility
Monuments such as the Merry Maidens stone circle near Penzance, Men An Tol (Cornish for head stone) on the Land’s End peninsula are examples … the Merry Maidens had pipers piping their dance … but as in my H forHurlers post … they were turned to stone trying to get back in time without breaking the Sabbath …

Wheal Buller, near Redruth
Menhirs (French, from Middle Breton: men, “stone” and hir, “long”) large upright standing stones – these can be singly or as part of a group … and their size varies …

There are plenty of these “megalithic” (big stone) monuments across Cornwall … the quoits probably being used for communal and dynastic burials … the acidic moorland soils tend to destroy organic remains … so finds, which might portray their life style, are not available to us …

Ballowall Barrow, near St Just

Scillonian chamber tombs or entrance graves are another type … but brought over during the late Neolithic period and are only found in West Penwith, west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  These tombs have a chamber to which a stone-lined passage leads from the outside. 

Neolithic finds (and possibly some from the Mesolithic era circa 8,000 – 3,500 BC) have been found at St Michael’s Mount, a tidal island accessible by causeway from Marazion, Penzance, Mounts Bay.
St Michael's Mount

Its name in Cornish Karrek Loos yn Koos means “hoar rock in woodland”.   From radiocarbon dating of hazel wood found on the beach … it has been established the woods in the bay would have been submerged in about 1,700 BC.

Neolithic artefacts
Cornwall is a melting pot of peoples … Celtic, Breton, Welsh, Irish … who can be categorised under the Stone Age, Bronze Age and early Iron Age … the Phoenicians came in later in the Iron Age.

Chysauster from the air

There are Iron Age settlements too – Chysauster and Carn Euny, both near Penzance, being two good examples … but for Now …

That is N for Neolithic, their Needs, their Stone Age sites  …. from Aspects of British Cornish …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

M is for Museums and Art Galleries …

Where do I start, or more importantly where do you start … there’s lots to offer in Cornwall apart from the stunning landscape of the South Coast Cornish Riviera, or the craggy cliffs, golden beaches, windswept moors, ancient lichen covered woodland, hidden valleys and secret coves …

Tate St Ives, taken from St Ives

So I have taken the easy route and will just briefly set out museums frequently mentioned on the web per Google – where else!  Just type in "Cornish Museums" and a gallery at the top of the Google page comes up.  But of course the post is likely to be longish …. but I’ve included links to their overview sites … and I've added a few more?!

Falmouth Harbour, Maritime Museum
and Pendennis Castle in background
National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouthwhich has collaborative links with Greenwich Museum, London.   It manages the National Small Boat Collection, and sets out Cornwall’s maritime history … Cornish fish, trading, boat building, wrecks and emigration.

NilaBose of Madly in Verse mentioned the pilchard film she had seen as very interesting when she visited the Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

Truro Museum

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truroit is the leading museum of Cornish Culture: its exhibits include minerals, an unwrapped mummy and objects relating to Cornwall’s unique culture.   

Specific collections are Fine Art from the Newlyn School of painting and others; Philip Rashleigh’s of Cornish minerals and there’s The Courtney Library and Archive … it has lots of Cornish papers et al .. and specialises in family history and local history.

Cables flowing out of Porthcurno

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum celebrates the 19th C connection to the rest of the world via submarine cables … across the Atlantic in 1866, to Australia in 1872 and across the Pacific in 1902.  The tunnels used in WW2 have been converted to include the working research station, and the museum …

An example of  a 19th Waterwheel
and set of Stamps at Geevor

Geevor Tin Mine, a few miles north of Botallack on the coast road to St Ives.  It is a living history of a working tin mine: it is an Anchor Point of The European Route of Industrial Heritage.  (It has recent photos and links re the 2015 BBC Poldark series).

Museum of Witchcraft

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastlededicated to European witchcraft and magic:  it houses exhibits devoted to folk magic, ceremonial magic, Freemasonry and Wicca … it is interesting to find out why it is in Cornwall …

The Hold House, Port Mear Square by
Alfred Wallis - fisherman then naive
artist but worth looking at his site

Tate St Ives is an art gallery in St Ives – a regional Tate Gallery exhibiting works by modern British artists.

It is worth checking out Alfred Wallis at the link I give under the picture ... 

Hepworth's tools on display

The Rain It Raineth - by Norman Garstin at the Penlee
(this is my favourite art work of Penzance Promenade -
where I walked so often with my mother)
Penlee Housea museum and art gallery located in Penzance home to many paintings by members of the Newlyn School, including Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, Walter Langley and Lamorna Birch.  

The Newlyn Art Gallery is now dedicated to modern artists, most of the Newlyn School’s art is at the Penlee.

Wayside Folk Museum - milling and bread making
Wayside Folk Museum, Zennor (just west of St Ives) is a private museum covering every aspect of life in Zennor and the surrounding district from 3,000BC to the 1930s.  It looks a delight waiting to be visited … 

Cornish Mines and Engines Museum, run by the National Trust, Poole, in the Camborne-Redruth mining area.  Here’s a chance to delve deeper in to Cornish mining … it is at the heart of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site.

Poldark Museum

Poldark Tin Mine Museum, Wendron Valley, near Helston ... a working and family oriented showcase ... with some early tin stamps, gardens that belie its industrial heritage ... 

Charlestown Harbour

A perfectly preserved Georgian Harbour at Charlestown, near St Austell ... stood in for 18th century Truro in the Poldark series ...

c/o  Cornwall on line 

Church Cove, at Gunwalloe on the Lizard peninsula was used for Poldark's night-time scenes of smuggling and shipwrecks ... 

Launceston town square

Lawrence House Museum, Launceston – described by John Betjeman as having the most perfect collection of 18th C townhouses in Cornwall.  

It is a National Trust property and has many exhibits … toys, costumes, herbarium, a Silver Penny made locally in William the Conqueror’s time, a Victorian kitchen .. and many other collections.

Falmouth Art Gallery has one of the leading art collections in Cornwall featuring old masters, major Victorian artists, British and French Impressionists, leading surrealists and maritime artists, children’s book illustrators, automata, contemporary painters and printmakers. 

Liskeard Town Centre - a lovely little town
with hidden gems

Liskeard and District Museum reminds us of an ancient Cornish town, with history interweaving with local mining and agriculture.

It is also where Emily Hobhouse came from … and Jenny has written a new book about World War 1 … I somehow need to decide how to write some posts about Emily.  

Jenny's new book - I'm half way
through reading it

The Liskeard Museum reminds us of the work Emily did for the displaced women, children and captured Africans in the Boer War, and also when World War 1 started … Emily attempted to broker peace, and helped found the Save the Childrens Fund.  She has largely been forgotten about .. but Jenny (my mother’s cousin) has Emily’s papers and is making sure Emily has due recognition.

Alfred Wallis'  grave in
St Ives, decorated  in the
style of his paintings.

Many of the towns have local museums reflective of the traditions, the history, the Saints and Holy Wells pertinent to the area …

Thankfully today we can check up on the museums near our destinations … and volunteers and experts have done much to open our eyes should we wish to learn …

I feel I need to mention St Michael's Mount as a place to visit ... more tomorrow ... but it is an iconic island accessible by causeway ... 

I have therefore courtesy of Google let you know about a few .. but there are plenty of others … and most of the ones I’ve listed are set in the Penwith area (the west) of the county.

That is M for Museums, Memories, Memorials, Magnificent art works, Magnaminous Munificence ... from Aspects of British Cornish ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

L is for Ley Lines and Lanes …

The St. Michael Alignment is perhaps the most prominent and intriguing of the many ley lines that criss-cross Britain.  It is 350 miles long from Lands End in Cornwall to Hopton-on-Sea, on the Norfolk coast.

Saint Michael Alighment
 - see here at Big Thinkand strange maps - 527

Their existence was suggested in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, whose book ‘The Old Straight Track’ (1925) brought the alignments to the attention of the wider public.

The hurled Hurlers - Standing Stones

Watkins believed that the ancient features, such as Standing Stones, Wayside Crosses, Causeways, Hill Forts and Ancient Churches on mounds … were connected by ancient trackways, linking one hill top to another in a straight line.

St Michael's Mount in Penzance Bay

The St Michael’s Mount Ley Line traverses this island monastery off the Cornish Coast … diagonally tracking up through Cornwall – touching the Hurlers … see H … and onwards towards Norfolk.

Lane near Launceston, mid north Cornwall

How many Cornish Lanes does it criss-cross, we will never know … as the land was enclosed, hedges were built beside existing tracks … transporting goods and animals was time-consuming, so parishes tended to have an intricate system of Lanes ensuring the distances to be travelled were as short as possible.

Red Campion and Yarrow
on a verge side hedgerow

That is L for Ley Lines criss-crossing the Lanes of Cornwall where perhaps you could Lay yourself down to Lazily Look at the Lush woodland-edge flora … from Aspects of British Cornwall …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories