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Archive for the ‘Cornwall’ Category

P1150533  ©   JY  of  jtdytravels

P1150533 © JT of jtdytravels

In the hills behind the Cornish coastal town of Penzance, in the small village of Madron, is the National Trust Property of Trengwainton Garden.   Although the manor house at the top of the garden is still a private residence, the garden is open to the public.  We walked up the long gentle slope of this rather narrow garden by a winding path through dense plantings; we returned by the main driveway bedecked with Rhododendron on one side and a small stream planted with bog plants on the other.  The moorland misty rain had returned, but that didn’t dampen our enjoyment of this lovely garden.

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P1150460  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150460 © JT of jtdytravels

This garden is known for its collections of magnolias, rhododendron and camellias.

Although some had finished flowering, there were plenty left for us to enjoy.

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P1150517  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150517 © JT of jtdytravels

I love azaleas; so simple and simply beautiful, especially when jewelled with rain drops.

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P1060386  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1060386 © JT of jtdytravels

Because spring had come late to Cornwall, there were still some magnolia flowers to enjoy.

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P1150472  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150472 © JT of jtdytravels

Both sides of the winding pathway are densely planted with a wide variety of plants…

plants that have their origins in many places across the globe.

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P1150474  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150474 © JT of jtdytravels

The ‘gulf stream’ climate here is perfect for the Australian native, Dicksonia.

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P1060390  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1060390 ©  DY of jtdytravels

Many new season fronds were just beginning to uncurl.

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P1060396  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1060396 ©  DY of jtdytravels

The unusual Fuchsia excorticata is a native plant of New Zealand.  Sometimes known in Cornwall by the common name of ‘Sunburn Tree’, the trunk of this large fuchsia is characterised by its red peeling bark.  This flower has an unusual blue pollen. The flowers are followed by dark purple, almost black berries, which some people say are delicious either raw or cooked.

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P1150463  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150463 © JT of jtdytravels

Some of the branches of the older trees have grown into strange shapes as they have sought the sun.

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P1060382  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1060382 © JT of jtdytravels

Delightful rhododendron bells draw attention to themselves against swathes of dark green foliage .

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P1060403  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060403 © DY of jtdytravels

We think this plant belongs to the Malvacaea family of plants.

Does anyone know the name of this beauty?

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P1060404  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060404 © DY of jtdytravels

I’ve added two more photos of this flower in the hope that someone will identify it.

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P1060405  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060405 © DY of jtdytravels

In any case, it is a joy to behold!

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P1150487  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150487 © JT of jtdytravels

One densely planted part of the garden is backed by a large Pieris japonica.

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P1150486  ©  JT  of  jtsytravels

P1150486 © JT of jtdytravels

A closer look at the tree shows the beautiful softness of the combination of pinks and light greens.

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P1150495  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150495 © JT of jtdytravels

And a much closer look, shows the tiny bell like pink flowers of Pieris japonica.

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P1150502  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150502 © JT of jtdytravels

There are over 70 species of Hosta that can be used as dense and attractive ‘fillers’ along garden edges.

But, beware!  They are much loved as food by snails and slugs!

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P1060402  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060402 © DY of jtdytravels

On the other hand, they also act as beautiful receptacles for rain drops.

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P1150525  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150525 © JT of jtdytravels

As the spring flowers were beginning to fade in the garden,

so the summer flowering groups, like the hydrangeas, began to bloom.

It’s is certainly a garden for all seasons.

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P1060422  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060422 © DY of jtdytravels

The path crosses a small bridge where a pond is the highlight of the view.

It’s a good place to take a quiet rest

as the water bubbles out under the bridge over a small waterfall.

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P1060415  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060415 © DY of jtdytravels

The light, misty rain persisted, but only enough to give rhododendron flowers a refreshing glow.

The name comes from Ancient Greek:  rhódon meaning “rose” and déndron meaning ” tree”.

This photo gives a real hint of the reason for the ‘rose’ tag.

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P1060431  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060431 © DY of jtdytravels

Some rhododendron trees in their native habitats can grow very large indeed.

Even here, some were large enough to shelter beneath their branches.

That gave time to enjoy shapes of trunks and patterns on bark.

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P1150557 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150557 © JT of jtdytravels

Above us, hung more of those delightful Rhododendron bells.

There are over 1000 species of this plant, so gardeners are spoilt for choice.

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P1060425  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1060425 © JT of jtdytravels

Finally the house came into view.  We had reached the top of the path.

This property, not open to the public, was once the residence of the powerful and very wealthy Cornish Arundell Family,  From small beginnings in the early 1200’s, when their only possession was the manor of Treloy in the parish of St Columb Major, the Arundells reached the height of their wealth and influence in the late sixteenth century when this house was built.  By then the family owned twenty-eight manors in Cornwall as well as manors and other properties in Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

The house was altered and extented in the 18th and 19th centuries and is now a Grade II listed building.  In 1814, this estate was bought by a Jamaican sugar plantation owner, Rose Price.  However, by 1833, his fortunes were diminished when his slaves in Jamaica were freed by the Emancipation Act.  In 1867, the house was bought by the Bolitho family.  Members of that family still live here.

The gardens were given to the National Trust in 1961 and are very well cared for by that organisation.  We’ll explore a very different part of this garden in our next Cornwall episode.

Jennie  and David

Photography copyright © JT and DY  of jtdytravels

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At every turn along the winding, narrow roads across the moors of Southern Cornwall in June, there were wildflowers in abundance.  Sometimes, they grew so prolifically that they swept along each side of the car as we passed by.

P1150443  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150443 © JT of jtdytravels

With little traffic, we were able to stop often and enjoy their rain drenched beauty.

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P1150445  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150445 © JT of jtdytravels

The effect of raindrops on foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, is just stunning.

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P1060370  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060370 © DY of jtdytravels

Spring had come late to Cornwall, so bluebells were still in flower.  These native bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, are often seen in Spring in the UK in woodlands, hedges and other shady places.  These are not the same as the blue bells grown in gardens, Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, although those can be found in the countryside when careless people dump them.

The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells, I’m reliably informed by the Natural History Museum in London,  is to look at the colour of the pollen.  “If it is creamy white then the bluebell is a native.  If it is any other colour, such as pale green or blue, then it is definitely not native.”

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P1060372  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060372 © DY of jtdytravels

Buttercups were everywhere bringing a touch of sunshine even on dull days.

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P1150451  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150451 © JT of jtdytravels

The most common of all roadside flowers are the fluffy white heads of cow-parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris.  This member of the umbelifferous carrot family is also known as Wild Chervil, Wild Beaked Parsley and Queen Anne’s Lace.

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P1150361 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150361 © JT of jtdytravels

Our wanderings brought us back out to the coast road at the tiny village of Zennor, on the coast not far north of Levant mine.   Here we found an excellent place for lunch; a back packer’s hostel with freshly made food.  Next door is the Wayside Museum; a very good, small, family run museum that has over 5,000 artefacts dating from the Bronze Age to the 1950s.  Items are well displayed with good descriptions to help the visitor understand something of life over the centuries along this southern Cornish Coast.

The museum contains Trewey Mill, restored and working again after 150 years of neglect.  On certain days of the year this Corn Mill still grinds wheat and oats  – not, unfortunately, on the day we were there.  In UK wheat is known as corn and that can be somewhat confusing to those of us from Australia.  If you remember poetry and prose from your school days about waving corn… think wheat!  And those corn dollies were made of wheat or oats.  Before the advent of the corn mill, meal was ground from grain using these querns (above).  Hard work for small results but then not too many people could afford great quantities of grain.

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P1150399 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150399 © JT of jtdytravels

The museum is housed in the buildings of a 16th Century Miller’s cottage.  People were much shorter in stature in those days judging by this door.  It was indeed low!

The single storey house with a thatched roof, was built in 1513, in the reign of King Henry VIII.  It housed the family who worked the mill which at that time was a ‘fulling mill’ for making cloth.  When the mill changed to grinding flour is not known but two of the old grinding stones have been used in the floor of the kitchen (just inside this door).  These stones went past their use by date as mill stones but found a new use as flooring.  They have been part of this floor for over 200 years and show barely a sign of wear.  Modern flooring doesn’t last quite so long.

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P1150409  © JT  of jtdytravels

P1150409 © JT of jtdytravels

Grinding the flour was only the first part of the task of making the daily bread or pasties.   Most of the miners and poorer people’s houses would have had a ‘cloan’ or ‘cloam’ oven for baking.  (Spelling was not a high priority.)  Made of earthenware, these were portable ovens.  They were used from the early 1600s and were still being made in Cornwall in1937.  (David wants one!)

Dried furze or gorse, of which there’s an abundant supply on the moors, was put into the oven and lit.  When white hot, the furze would be pulled out – carefully one would hope.  Maybe the stone floor was an advantage!  The food to be baked was placed in the oven, a door placed in front and the cooking process occurred using latent heat.  I grew up learning to cook on a wood fuel stove so I knew something of the vagaries of this method of cooking.

Now, when cooking in a cloam oven, it was quite likely that the bread would burn on the bottom.  A file or rasp was used to grate off the blackened bits.  When serving bread, it was always polite to give the top piece to those socially ‘above you’ and from that we get the English expression, “Upper Crust”.  The bottom piece, with the blackened bits filed off, would be given to your own family.  And, I suspect from my reading that, within the family, the upper crust usually went to the husband with the bottom bits to the children and wife.  There were, and always are, hierarchies in any society.

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P1150364  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150364 © JT of jtdytravels

One of the items in this museum that fascinated and horrified me was this man trap.  These were used by land owners in the 18th and 19th centuries to discourage poachers.  The penalty for being caught in one of these was not just a very sore leg.  The culprit would be deported to the colonies, usually for life, or sentenced to death by hanging, and that was usually an event for witnessed by large local crowds.  It was quite an event.

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P1150391  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150391 © JT of jtdytravels

Others went to the colony of Australia more willingly, lured by the prospect of free passage and work when they got there.  We came across many such posters in small museums in Cornwall.  Transportation to Australia of so many young men to the colonies had left several ‘holes’ in the demographics of those developing communities. They were short of marriageable single women, skilled young workers and families who would add a sense of community to the growing colonies.  A great many Australians have forbears who answered this call to emigrate, not just from Cornwall but from other parts of England, Scotland and Ireland; many of David’s family among them.  Poor living conditions in the UK at that time were the ‘push factor’ for emigration and posters like these provided a very strong ‘pull factor’.  No one readily leaves their home, their family and their country forever without both of these factors being strong.

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P1160310  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels com

P1160310 © JT of jtdytravels com

And when people did emigrate, it was usually for life.  Their only contact with families was by post and those letters often took months to be delivered.  When it was time to leave the museum, we drove on across the moors along narrow roads that were once just tracks walked by the postmen and women of the moors who brought just such letters and parcels in all weathers and all seasons to the isolated hamlets and farms of the moors.

From notes at the museum we learned that some of these people were easy going, like Postman Bryant, who would stop for a cup of tea and a chat in various houses and even visit the pub on the way.  He would, no doubt, relay the gossip and the news that had come from across the other side of the world.  Others, like Postman Renowden, was a crotchety old thing nicknamed Mr Grumps.  He waited for no-one.  He was often helped by Willy Spry, a very small chap with a peaked cap and turned out feet.  Willy was always tied to a lead and led along by Mr Grumps so that he would not lag behind!

But it wasn’t just men who carried the post.  There are many stories of post women like Old Mrs Kitty White, Mrs Whelan and Annie Christopher, the latter a ‘grand old soul’ and a great story teller who wore long black skirts and hob nailed boots to walk many miles a day with the post.

It’s the stories of individuals like these who make the history of any place come to life.  We were very thankful that some of the stories of the Cornish coast have been recorded before they are lost forever.

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P1150446 ©  Jt  of jtdytravels

P1150446 © Jt of jtdytravels

Today, not many people walk these roads, still fewer ride horses or drive pony traps.  It’s cars, vans and sometimes trucks that drive across these moorland roads now and they were never really meant for vehicles.  Driving here becomes even more challenging when the hedges become higher.  Wondering what might be coming around the corners can be fun.  We even met the local garbage truck on one of these roads.  Lots of backing up!  But everyone is patient and considerate and it’s never a real problem.  And eventually you do come out onto a wider road that leads to a town.  From here, we turned east to visit coastal towns on the other side of the southern Cornish peninsular; Penzance, Newlyn and the improbably named Mousehole – places where some of David’s forbears had also lived.

More of that anon

Jennie and David

Photography copyright ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

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The mediaeval church of St Just-in-Penwith held a special surprise for us;  two very interesting examples of mediaeval secco art.  And that was by no means all that was of interest in this church.  No matter what your religious persuasion, or otherwise,  the story of this church is fascinating.   The old market town of St Just may not have much else to offer the visitor to this isolated southern part of Cornwall, but it does have this treasure.  How we found it, is part of this story.

P1150420  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150420 © JT of jtdytravels

St Just was the only market town for this busy mining area along the coast.  It is old, grey, stone, drab, and quite uninviting, especially on a cold, rainy, windy day.  We would have driven straight through except for three things.  This town has the only public toilet for miles around.  I needed to find a chemist.  And the Ellis branch of David’s family had lived here in times past.  After satisfying the first two needs, we went to find the graveyard and pay our respects to some of David’s ancestors.

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P1150302   ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150302 © JT of jtdytravels

Wandering along one very narrow street, we happened upon the only vestige of a garden that we were to find in the whole town.  Purple Clematis adorned the wall and Campanula spilled over the wall.  The sight of this tiny garden cheered me up.

Then,  just around the next corner, we met a very friendly man who just happened to be keen on family history.  Another nice surprise.  He told us that, even though we believed that the Ellis family were Quakers, by law they would have had to be buried in consecrated ground.  And that meant burial either in the grave yard of the established church, until about the late 1880s, or in the Methodist Chapel graveyard after that.  Since many miners in Cornwall had joined the Wesleyan Movement in the late 1700s, we went to the Methodist graveyard first.

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P1150303  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150303 © JT of jtdytravels

The Methodist Chapel is a large, grey, unadorned building and quite forbidding in appearance.   After a search across wet, grassy, uneven  ground, we did find one Ellis headstone dated 1935.   So some members of the Ellis family had lived on here long after William left to go to Australia in 1850.   We knew that the probability of finding any older Ellis headstones was quite remote.  To begin with, they were poor miners and could not have afforded headstones.  Even if they had, time would have eroded the inscriptions away and lichen and moss would have taken up residence instead.  But here, at least, was the resting places of some of the family.

With rain coming down and the cold seeping into my bones despite my wet weather gear, I decided to sit in the warmth and dry of the car while David went in search of the established Church.  He soon came back to get me.  I had to go with him to see this church.  It was, he said, special.  I had almost missed out on one of the real treasures of Cornwall.  Let me share it with you now.

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P1060311  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060311 © DY of jtdytravels

From outside, this very old church showed that it had been built in three different phases.  There are three separate aisles with three different window shapes.  And indeed, the story of this church encompasses much of the history of the area.

There’s been a place of prayer and worship on this site for over 1500 years.  The first ‘cell’ or oratory belonged to St Justin, thought to have been a Celtic missionary, a native of Cornwall, who became a ‘holy man’ in the 5th Century.  Four, possibly five, other celtic cells or oratories followed on this site long before there was ever a settlement here.  The area became enclosed as a ‘lan’ with a small prayer and oratory chapel and several stone beehive huts.  When the Normans came to Cornwall after 1066, they swept away these small buildings, using the stone to build their own form of church.

By the 14th century, that Norman church had suffered badly at the hands of the wild Cornish weather.  A new church was needed.  And so, in 1334, the central part of this church was built in the form of a cross.   A small settlement grew up around the church.  It was known as “Lefrowda”:  laf or lan, a Cornish word meaning a religious enclosure;  rood, rode or rod, a Saxon word meaning cross or crucifix; and dha, a Cornish word meaning good.

This name alone shows the infiltration of words that came into the Cornish language due to the influence of ‘outsiders’.  Nowadays, the Cornish language is all but lost.  Although the Normans began that change, the final impetus for that loss came as a direct result of the reformation with the introduction of  the English language Book of Common Prayer and the forced change of the church litany from Latin to English.  With that change there was much disquiet in Cornwall.  Riots occurred, lead by Cornish churchmen, resulting in quite a few deaths.  The English law came down heavily against Cornish people struggling to maintain there language and their litany.  A new order was forced upon them and the Cornish language was fairly quickly lost.  Is it any wonder that, to this day, Cornish people refuse to think of themselves as being English.

In the 14th and 15th Centuries, the cruciform shape of the main church was lost when the two side aisles of the church were added .  The town that grew up around the church took on a new name, St Just;  and another piece of history was told through the story of this church.

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P1060316  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060316 © DY of jtdytravels

When you first enter the church, it is dim.  As your eyes adjust to the gentle light, you can see how the light coming through the main window reflects off the amazing collection of grey granite stones that make up the very thick walls.  Behind the altar is a very unusual and beautifully carved Reredos set into two dimly lit alcoves.  Made of Derbyshire Alabaster, the carvings represent fourteen Cornish Saints.  This Reredos was presented to the church in 1896.  It’s the first of the interesting works of art to be enjoyed in this church.

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P1150307  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150307 © JT of jtdytravels

The walls inside the church show clearly the random, rubble type of granite construction often used in Cornwall.  In most other churches, this is not visible since it was the custom to cover the rubble with plaster and whitewash.  But here, the plaster was stripped away in about 1865 when the church underwent restoration.  The light grey granite is now accentuated by black pitch pointing.

Stripping off the plaster during the restoration of the church, also revealed very different qualities of workmanship between the north and the south aisles.  And that tells another part of the story of this town.

Work on both of the new side aisles of the church started in the 14th century.  However, the North Aisle was finished fifty years earlier than the South Aisle and is much more carefully constructed.  Why should that be?  The answer; before the South Aisle could be finished, Cornwall was hit by the plague; the Black Death.  The population was decimated and all work on the church ceased.  Much later, in the early part of the 15th Century, the South Aisle was finally completed, but somewhat more roughly than the North Aisle.

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P1150315  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150315 © JT of jtdytravels

But the pillars (the capitals) were completed by some very skilled craftsmen.

Each pillar was richly carved with its own distinctive 15th century design.

These designs include an assortment of shields, vine leaves, roses and quatrefoils.

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P1150318  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150318 © JT of jtdytravels

The font, also, was beautifully carved.

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P1060313  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060313 © DY of jtdytravels

During the building of the church, after a wall was completed, it was covered in plaster and white washed.  And into that plaster the secco art murals were painted.  A note in the church describes this art:  “The paintings are executed in a standard palette of red and yellow ochres and carbon black in a lime medium.  They were painted onto a layer of wet lime wash over a single layer of thick lime and sand render. This technique is known as ‘secco’ (dry) as opposed to ‘fresco’ in which the paint is applied directly onto wet plaster.”

One of the paintings (above) depicts Saint George, patron saint of England, representing all that is good.  He fights the dragon which represents all that is evil, wrong and impure in the world.  It is one of  six secco murals that were originally painted in this church, each a visual depiction of some lesson to be taught to the mostly illiterate congregation.

After the Reformation, all such works were to be destroyed.  Here at St Just, the paintings were simply covered in whitewash. Over the centuries, many more coats of whitewash covered the paintings.  They were forgotten.  It was not until restoration of the church commenced in 1865 that their existence was rediscovered.  However, much of the art work was destroyed by the workmen who were employed to strip the whitewash off the walls with axes.  Only two have survived somewhat intact.  St George is one of them, but this painting was mostly overpainted during the restoration of the church.  Not much of the original mediaeval paint survives.

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P1150320  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150320 © JT of jtdytravels

In the second secco painting, much more of the original art work survives.  Also painted on the wall of the North Aisle,  this work is known as “Christ of the Trades”.  It represents Christ blessing the work tools of the various occupations of the people of the town at that time.  It gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people who were part of this congregation.  Some of the tools depicted include a fisherman’s reel, an axe, a shoemaker’s knife, a carpenter’s chisel, a wall candlestick, a turf cutter,  a mason’s trowel, a cooper’s adze, a wool carder’s comb, a bit for a horse’s mouth, a sickle, shears for cutting cloth, a thatcher’s comb, an anvil and bellows.

In a note regarding the future preservation and conservation of the paintings, mention is made the problems associated with the prevailing westerly winds and abundance of rain in West Cornwall.   We had personal experience of both of those.

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P1060321  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060321 © DY of jtdytravels

Other items of interest in the church also told something of the story of this area.  In these churches in the mining areas of Cornwall, there are often memorials to the wealthy owners of the local mines.  This church is no exception.  The Lady Chapel East Window is just one of three windows in this church dedicated to the Harvey James family who were formerly the owners of the local Botallock Mine.  It’s has delightful floral and palm tree styled traceries.

I wondered what miners and their families thought of these windows knowing that it was their hard work that really paid for them.

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P1060317   ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060317 © DY of jtdytravels

In most churches, each person, or group of people, had their designated places to sit, or stand, within the church.  Personalizing the end of their special pew with a carving was just another way that the mine and land owners displayed their wealth within the church.  One example is this beautifully carved wooden pew end which bears the date 1625 and the initials JB.  The carving is of a coat of arms; merging the coats of arms of two local land owning families – Arundell and Bosavern.  Three shells down the centre are flanked by six swallows, three on each side.  After almost four hundred years, it was in remarkably good condition.

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P1150295  ©   JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150295 © JT of jtdytravels

The organist was practising a few pieces while we wandered around the church and that gave it a warm, ‘used’ feeling.  Some of the churches we visited on this trip felt very cold and unloved, signs of waining church attendance.

As we left the church, I noticed some tiny flowers growing in the outer stone work.  I also noticed that the weather had cleared somewhat and that meant we could go out onto the moors again to enjoy the wildflowers.  More of that anon.

Jennie and David

Photography  Copyright  ©  JT  and   DY  Travels

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The ruins of copper and tin mines can be found all along the west coast of Cornwall from its southern tip at Lands End north towards St Ives.  We set off on a damp and extremely cold morning in June (it was supposed to be summer) to find some of those mine sites.

P1150414  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150414 © JT of jtdytravels

This coast and the nearby inland moors are often shrouded by a mist that adds to the mystery of this once very busy mining area. The noise of mine heads and crushing hammers that boomed out across the whole area are now silent.  The smoke and steam from the engine houses rise no more.  Only ruins of the past remain to remind us that here men, women and children worked long hours in often very dangerous conditions to mine ore.  And some of those miners were David’s forbears.  We needed to learn more.

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P1150337  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150337 © JT of jtdytravels

Parking the car near the old Levant Mine, we were stunned by the beauty of the area and by the number of wild flowers that adorned this long disused mine site.

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P1060338   ©  DY  of  jdytravels

P1060338 © DY of jdytravels

Thrift was again in abundance.  It’s probably the most common plant of the coast.

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P1060340  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060340 © DY of jtdytravels

Being common, it’s often overlooked.  But each flower is a delight.

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P1150329  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150329 © JT of jtdytravels

Walking here is very picturesque with chimneys and the ruins of mine workings rising from the landscape.

Any one who enjoys walking holidays would do well to consider this coast.

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P1150331  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150331 © JT of jtdytravels

There were carpets of yellow Vetch and Silene everywhere.

There are no trees here and most plants grow low to the ground,

in an attempt to shelter from the wild winds that often lash these shores.

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P1060343  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060343 © DY of jtdytravels

These tiny flowers are well worth the effort of getting down low to enjoy them.

The plant name is unknown to us.  Any help?

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P1060334  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060334 © DY of jtdytravels

But we hadn’t come just to enjoy the wildflowers and the scenery.  We’d come to learn something about the mines.  We began by visiting the National Trust owned Levant Mine where some buildings and a steam pump engine have been restored.  A guide is available to explain the workings and the history of these mines.

A large part of Cornwall is made up of slate and greenstone intruded by granite and over 150 other minerals have been found in this ancient geological area.  Of most importance were the ‘veins’ of tin and copper ores found within fractures in the granite.

For about 2,000 years, copper and tin mining has been part of Cornwall’s history.  Much of the very early mining was ‘stream’ mining for ore found on or near the surface or in streams.  Mining families were somewhat self sufficient as they also farmed the fields whose boundaries had been laid out hundreds of years before.   Gradually, the mines became ‘beam’ or ‘coffin’ openwork mines in which ore close to the surface was dug by hand.  By the mid 16th century miners were working the alluvial deposits in the inland valleys and the ore loads that could be seen in the coastal cliffs.

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P1240309

P1240309

As miners began to dig down into the cliffs, it became ever more obvious that here was the real wealth.  But to get to this ore would require underground mines – and that would require money that the poor miners did not have.  All this coincided with a growing market for minerals as the industrial revolution changed manufacturing processes.  For the established land owners and gentry, and for outside investors, there was wealth to be made in Cornwall.   And so, in the the late 1700s and early 1800s, many new mines were opened in Cornwall.  St Just, the only market town in this isolated coastal area, now became more important.

It was soon realised that the richest veins were down very deep and some even extended out under the sea. With much more profitable ore loads on offer, the Levant Mining Company was formed in 1820 by twenty investors, or ‘adventurers’ as they were called in Cornwall.  With a capital of ₤400 divided into 80 shares, these investors shared in the profits of what became a very successful mine.  Many of them were not even Cornish men and had never been into a mine.  They had no real idea of the hard work involved to provide them with their ever increasing wealth.  There was a great divide between the investors and the miners.

Underground mining was very dangerous in extremely difficult conditions.  Miners, and their women and children who also worked for the mines, took home very little pay and lived relatively short lives whilst the ‘adventurers’ became ever richer.

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P1240316  Cartoon by Emma Metcalfe

P1240316 Cartoon by Emma Metcalfe

This is one of the cartoons from a little book that I bought at the mine, “A Family Guide to Mining in Cornwall” written by Lucia Crothall.  It tells the stories of a real miner, John Harris, who began working underground at the age of ten.  John became famous in Cornwall for the poems he later wrote about his experiences.

The words of the cartoon reads: “It is smelly, hot, down here.  No toilets, nothing but blackness to see and its hard to breathe in the dusty atmosphere.”

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P1240304  from "A Family Guide to Mining in Cornwall" - the stories of John Harris.

P1240304  Cartoon by Emma Metcalfe

While John and other boys like him worked with the miners underground, above them, in their fine houses, the owners wined and dined and lead the good life.  This great divide between the rich and the poor was seen as ‘normal’; part of the mores of the time – each one born to their place in life.  But that would change over the years as miners began to take on the idea of unionism, which of course was resented by the owners.  It was, in fact, against the law to speak of unions and many a miner who spoke his mind was imprisoned or transported to Australia as a convict.  It would take years of outspokenness by many brave men before conditions would change in favour of better conditions for the miners.

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P1150340  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150340 © JT of jtdytravels

As Levant Mine was developed, it was found that the richest lodes of ore were not only deep under the ground but they extended far out under the sea.  As each lode was mined out, the shaft was dug down further to find the next rich vein of ore to be mined.  Some of the working ‘levels’ that ran off from the shaft extended out over a mile under the sea.

In time, the Levant shaft went down to 350 fathoms (2,100 feet or 640 meters) – Cornish mines were always measured in fathoms, one fathom equalling 6 feet.  So not only did the miners have to climb down a long way, but then they had to ‘walk’ a long way through cramped, rough tunnels before they even began their ten to twelve hours shift.   Above their heads they could hear the rumble of the sea as it churned the sea bed, particularly in stormy weather.  Water posed the constant threat of flooding.  But no matter the conditions, they had to work to feed their families.  Despite the conditions, and maybe because of their ability to overcome hardship, over the years they became very proud of their skills as miners.

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P1060344   ©   DY  of jtdytravels

P1060344 © DY of jtdytravels

For years, the only way down into the mines was by means of a series of wooden ladders.   From the story of John Harris we learn that when he was twelve, he started to work deep underground with his father.  To begin the descent into the mine, a rope was attached between the father and son.  They then had to climb down over 60 ladders in all, in the dark, to a depth of 200 fathoms (1,200 feet or 366 meters).  As they went, John often grazed his legs and arms against the rocks.  Down at the work level, all was blackness.  Their only light was a candle which had to be bought by his father from the mine shop.   John said, “I hated it in the dark, dangerous underground.”

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P1150941  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150941 © JT of jtdytravels

John’s father used a spike and hammer to make a hole to take some blasting powder, an activity that often caused injury in mines.  When the rocks were blasted away, John’s task was to put the loose pieces of ore into a wooden barrow (like the one above that was found on another mine site.)  He then wheeled the barrow, in the dark, along the rough ground of the level to the shaft.

There, he loaded the rocks into egg shaped buckets, called kibbles, to be hauled to the surface by a horse powered winch.  One day the chain broke and a bucket filled with ore crashed down right beside John.  Another day the roof above where he was working suddenly collapsed with a deafening noise filling the tunnel with dust.  John was filled with the fear of being trapped.

At the end of working hard for ten to twelve hours in those cold, damp, very dark conditions, John and his father had to climb back up all those wooden ladders to get back ‘to grass’.  Many times it was recorded that an exhausted miner either lost his footing or his grip on the rungs and fell to his death down the mine shaft.  Those climbing up beneath him were often taken down as well.

Death walked beside each miner each day.  But the mateship of miners and their loyalty to each other became legendary.  ‘One for all’ was their motto and there were always men ready to help search for fellow miners trapped underground.  But the death or maiming of a miner mattered little in the eyes of most owners.  Miners were expendable.  If they didn’t like the working conditions, they could go without work.  There were plenty of others who needed work to try to feed their families.

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P1150348   ©   JT  of jtdytravels

P1150348 © JT of jtdytravels

There was not a lot to a miner’s life except work, smoking his clay pipe, drinking ale to slake his thirst and begetting more children to become workers to help feed the family.  While boys went below ground with the men, women and girls (the bal maidens) and small children worked above ground.  There are also accounts of women, often stripped to the waist in the heat and dust, working below ground pulling the carts of ore back to the shafts.

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P1150349  ©  Jt  of jtdytravels

P1150349 © JT of jtdytravels

On the surface, the work of the bal maidens, small children and men too old, sick or maimed to work underground, was to sort and break up the ore with hammers before taking the broken rock to the noisy stamping crushers.  It was hard, rough work for very little pay; a few pence at the most.

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P1150330  ©  JT of jtsytravels

P1150330 © JT of jtsytravels

During the mid 1800s, Cornish engineers and innovators harnessed the power of steam to develop steam engines that helped to make the mines more efficient and improve safety standards.  These engines were housed in buildings like the one that has been restored at Levant. There were, at one time, 2,500 of these engine houses in Cornwall.  Most are now in ruins; reclaimed by nature.

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During our guided tour of Levant Mine, the beam engine was powered up for a short time to demonstrate how it had changed the way mines worked and how much deeper a mine could go if engines were used.  These engines made it possible for ore to be lifted to the ground mechanically instead of by horse drawn winches. They also made it possible to pump out water much more efficiently.

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P1150344  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150344 © JT of jtdytravels

But steam engines required coal to burn and for that the mine owners turned to the Welsh collieries.  Crushed ore was shipped from Cornwall to the big smelters in Swansea in Wales and the ships returned laden from Wales with coal.  Wales and Cornwall now shared much more than just their Celtic origins, their belief in the preaching of Wesley and their love of singing.  (That’s another story!)

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P1240311

P1240311

One of the benefits of the steam engines was that the ever inventive Cornish engineers, like Richard Trevithic, improved the ways that mines worked.  One of these inventions was the ‘man lift’.  Using the movement of the pumping shafts, miners were able to move up and down the shafts in small stages of about ten to twelve feet.  This made descent into, and ascent from the workings, easier and safer.  Because of that, they were able to work longer and harder at the ore face thus improving profits.  It was a win-win situation.

However, there were times when these lifts were not maintained properly and miners crashed to their deaths below when the man lift broke.  It happened at Levant in 1919 with the deaths of 34 miners.

Times became very hard for the miners and their families in the 1840s because food was scarce and costly in Cornwall; there was a potato famine and the Corn Laws sent the prices of wheat well out of the reach of poor miners.  Times were becoming harder for the mine owners too.  Copper and tin were found in places like Malaysia and South America and, in 1850, in Burra, South Australia.  As prices fluctuated for the Cornish minerals, many mines became unviable.  At the same time, both Cornish miners and Cornish engineers were highly sort after by these overseas mines; the Cornish knowledge of mining was well known.  Many miners left Cornwall including David’s Great, Great, Great grandfather, William Ellis, who sailed with his wife and young children to start a new life in South Australia.  When gold was discovered in Victoria, they moved there to mine for gold in Castlemaine.

As word of gold finds in Australia and California became common knowledge in England,  thousands more miners and their families sailed from Cornwall across the world in the hope of making better lives for themselves.  And among those who sailed to Australia, were David’s Great, Great Grandfather, Thomas Bray and his brother James.

Unknown to each other whilst living in Cornwall, these two Cornish mining families were joined together in Australia when William’s grandson married Thomas Bray’s daughter in Victoria in 1889.  These families were never to return to Cornwall.

Apart from the cost and the length of a return journey ‘back home’, there was no reason for a miner to return to Cornwall.  By the end of the 1800s and early 1900s most of the mines were closing and Cornwall was left to reinvent itself.  And that reinvention eventually came in the form tourism.  Over time, as road and rail began to penetrate further into the scenic Cornish countryside, the lives of the Cornish miners, fishermen and smugglers became the stuff of legends and that gave the impetus for the growth of museums.  Many hotels and guest houses were built to house these visitors.  Cornish families opened their homes as B&Bs.  And to sustain their way of life, wealthy families were forced to open their gardens and houses to the public.  Many properties were given to the National Trust.  We, like thousands of visitors every year, enjoyed this new Cornwall even while we were learning more about the lives of David’s ancestors, the Bray and Ellis families.

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P1150442  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150442 © DY of jtdytravels

After our visit to the mine, we had much to think about as we turned inland once again to explore the narrow flower filled roads of the moors.  Staying away from the main tourist destinations, we were beginning to fall in love with Cornwall, its narrow roads, its small villages and its very friendly people …to say nothing of tasty Cornish pasties and afternoon teas of warm scones, home made strawberry jam and thick clotted cream.  But more of that anon.

Jennie and David

Photography  Copyright  ©  JT and DY of jtdytravels

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The beaches of Cornwall are very popular with English visitors from the northern counties as well as overseas visitors.  Some, like Port Isaac, have been made too famous by TV shows such as Doc Martin.  Others, like St Ives, are now famous as artist colonies.  And still others are fishing villages, such as Padstow, which TV chef Rick Stein has made famous.  In summer, they are all filled with tourists.

P1050661©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1050661© DY of jtdytravels

Today, there are many more tourists in Padstow than when I was there in 1986.  Now, the village shops are all cafes and souveneir shops.  Now, pleasure yachts fill the harbour with many fewer of the working fishing boats.  It has lost its allure for me, although, judging by the number of tourists, it’s still a big drawcard for many.  We were looking for something further off the beaten track.

Perhaps the most famous of all Cornish tourist destinations is Land’s End.  It’s always packed with tourists and, even back in 1986, there was not a lot of the natural beauty left to be enjoyed.  It’s become something of a fairground.  I would not go there again.

We sought a quiet place to enjoy the weekend and found Sennan Cove, only a short distance north from Land’s End.  It’s a place left in peace by the tourist buses which would find it very difficult to make their way down the narrow, twisting, steep road to the cove.   And, anyway, there’s not a lot for a busload of tourists to do… it’s just a peaceful beach.  It was perfect for us!

P1150277  ©  Jt of jtdytravels

P1150277 © Jt of jtdytravels

When we arrived, the sea was calm and there were just a few people on the beach enjoying that peace.

P1150283  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150283 © JT of jtdytravels

Patches of seaside daisies held their faces up to the warm afternoon sun.

P1150276  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150276 © JT of jtdytravels

Some daisies even grew into an electrical box by the edge of the road!

P1150288  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150288 © JT of jtdytravels

Our home away from home for the weekend was the Old Success Inn, built in the 1600s and, in some ways, it still felt like that. It was a bit of a rabbit warren of rooms with bits added to the original building over the centuries.  This was the Inn where David slept on the floor because the bed was so soft he thought that it would cave in and smother him!   At least the floor was better for his back.  We enjoyed our time there;  the staff were friendly, the pub food was better than most pubs and the location was just right.

P1150440  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1150440 © DY of jtdytravels

Sennan Cove is a tiny village with just a couple of shops and cafe.  A few small, old style fishing boats were pulled up in the shelter of the long slip way for the rescue boat. This is one of the most treacherous areas on Britain’s coastline (and there are quite a few of those).  The life boat station was established here in 1853 and people have been rescued from the unpredictable sea here ever since.

P1150424  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150424 © JT of jtdytravels

It was not always thus… for many centuries, rescue was not always uppermost in the minds of locals.  This area was renowned in times past for the many shipwrecks that, in the view of the locals of the time, provided food and clothing for the poor.  It’s said that donkeys were used to carry lanterns across the cliff tops to fool seamen and create many ship wrecks in and around this rocky cove. Looking out across some of the beach rocks it’s possible to see a couple of the dangers that lurk in these waters not too far from shore.  And there are many other rocks unseen beneath the waters. The list of ship wrecks is a long one.

Smuggling was another well known, and dangerous, part of local life in these parts, in times past.  They got away with much at Sennan Cove because the Revenue men were mostly busy patrolling the villages and coves on the other side of Cornwall, the side closer to France and with usually better sea conditions.  Stories of smugglers and their close calls with the law abound in books about Cornish coastal life.  They have become akin to Australia’s bushranger stories and just as much romanticised, when the facts were, in reality, very brutal for those who took part.  But for the desperately poor villagers of Cornwall, smuggling often made survival possible.

P1150441  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1150441 © DY of jtdytravels

There are a few houses tucked in between the beach front and the steep cliff.  This one has an iron bar attached just below the roof to make sure that the thatch roof isn’t disturbed by delivery trucks, or the local double decker bus, when they turn on the quay side.  This is a no through road and a tight turn is a must.  As with any coastal area, the sea salt has made the iron turn to rust, thus adding a visual warning presence to the side of the house.

P1150435  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1150435 © DY of jtdytravels

There are no gardens as such here but there’s an occasional mallow plant.

P1150437  © DY  of  jtdytravels

P1150437 © DY of jtdytravels

The path up the hill to the south of the village is adorned with blackberries.

Weed they may be in Australia, but here they provide delicious berries –

and very attractive small flowers.

P1150423  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150423 ©   DY of jtdytravels

David climbed to the top of the cliff.  Looking north along the coast it’s easy to see that Sennen Cove is well placed for walks along the Cornish coastal path.  Apart from the wonderfully rugged coastal scenery to be enjoyed along the way, there are many ancient sites to see as well as relics from the once thriving tin and copper mining industry.  We would search for those old mine workings next day.

P1150426  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150426 ©  DY of jtdytravels

Wild flowers, like this Thrift, add to the beauty of the area.

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P1150438  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1150438 © DY of jtdytravels

A mix of Silene and Thrift makes a pretty, natural rock garden.

P1150429  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1150429 © DY of jtdytravels

Lichen on the rocks adds a dash of bright colour.

P1150422  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1150422 © DY of jtdytravels

I wonder how long this rock has been balancing on the cliff edge…

and how long it will stay there!

P1150434  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1150434 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking south along the cliffs gave an idea of the terrain that was mined for tin and copper.

P1150290  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150290 © JT of jtdytravels

Watching the sun dropping lower in the sky across the Atlantic Ocean was a good way to end this day.

P1150833  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150833 © JT of jtdytravels

By next morning, however, the blue sky had vanished along with the calm sea.  It was raining and exceedingly cold.  The miners of old had had to endure many a day like this, so we would continue with our plan to seek out some of the old mine workings along the coast.  Perhaps the unpleasant weather would add to our understanding of the way the miners and their families had lived.

More of that anon

Jennie and David

Photography Copyright ©  JT and DY of jtdytravels

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One of the best known features of Trelissick is its collection of Rhododendrons which come into their own in Spring.  Many of them continue to flower into late Spring and we were able to enjoy these, the very essence of a Cornish garden it seems to me.

P1150148  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150148 © JT of jtdytravels

One of the best Rhododendron species to grow well in the upper part of the garden, where the ground is thinner and drier, is the rich red ‘Gwilt King’, a hybrid of Rhododendron griersonianum.

P1060262   ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060262 © DY of jtdytravels

When a touch of sunlight catches these flowers, they seem to glow.

P1150140  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150140 © JT of jtdytravels

There were still plenty of new flowers to come even in mid June.

P1060267  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060267 © DY of jtdytravels

Rhododendron buds are elegant and deserve just as close a look as the more showy flowers.

P1150196  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150196 © JT of jtdytravels

Along the Rhododendron walk, we found this moss covered seat.  Whenever I find such an empty seat, I’m reminded of UK friends who enjoyed exploring gardens with me in years gone by but who are now no longer here for me to sit and have a chat with.  I love the memories of the good times we spent together in gardens such as these and am grateful for those special times of friendship.

P1150141  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150141 © JT of jtdytravels

Walking on, we found several other Rhododendron species in flower.  Many of these were brought to Trelissick Gardens from the famous Bodnant Gardens in north Wales by Ida and Ronald Copeland when they lived here.  I don’t know their species names but each and every one of them was a delight.  I hope you enjoy our photos of a selected few of them.

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P1150199 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

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P1150153  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150153 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150195  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150195 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150190  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150190 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150128   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150128 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150198   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150198 © JT of jtdytravels

As well as Rhododendrons, there were still some azaleas in flower.

P1150084   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150084 © JT of jtdytravels

My favourite is the Mollis Azalea. It reminds me of my wonderful Mum!

P1060253  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060253 © DY of jtdytravels

Other trees in flower were Cornus, or Dogwoods.

P1060253   ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060253 © DY of jtdytravels

Have you ever really looked at the centre of a Dogwood flower?

P1150122   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150122 © JT of jtdytravels

In amongst the borders are plants like Aquilegia, cottage garden and border essentials with their delicate nodding flowers and delightful lacy foliage which is a rare blue-green colour. They are a beautiful foil for other larger, heavier plants and , although the fresh foliage starts growing in early spring, the flowers develop just in time to fill in when spring flowers begin to fade.

They are commonly known as Columbines or, a name I love for these beauties, Granny’s Bonnets . 

P1060190  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060190 © DY of jtdytravels

This delicately petalled Roscoea cautleyoides is another Asian plant that’s grown in this garden.  Although it’s a member of the ginger family, which has mostly tropical species, this plant comes from the mountain regions of  Sichuan and Yunann provinces. 

P1150070  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150070 © JT of jtdytravels

Another delicate white flower is the bell of Polygonatum or Solomon’s Seal.  Once classified as a member of the Lily family, this plant is now classified as a member of the family Asparagaceae.  It’s hard to keep up with these classification changes at times!

P1150082  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150082 © JT of jtdytravels

Most Cornish gardens make some use of the lovely Astrantia along the borders of the garden.

The flowers range from white to a deep wine red.

P1150082  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150082 © JT of jtdytravels

If we look closely we’ll see that this one has a visitor – a tiny green beetle.

P1060249  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060249 © DY of jtdytravels

Another plant used to great effect in this garden’s borders is the Geranium, commonly known in UK as Cranesbill.

I love the veined petals. There are many colours for gardeners to use and they flower for a long period.

P1150052  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150052 © JT of jtdytravels

A flower that adds a wonderful dash of colour to any border is Alstroemeria commonly called Peruvian Lily.

P1150201  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150201 © JT of jtdytravels

Time was getting away from us and, reluctantly, we followed this man and his grandson back to the carpark. I hope they had enjoyed their Trelissick experience as much as we had done.  But we still had a long way to go to Sennen Cove near Lands End where we were to stay for the next three nights.

Apart from visiting a quiet Cornish beach for the weekend, our goal in going to that southern part of Cornwall was to learn more about the kind of lives lived by David’s forbears working in the tin and copper mines from the 1600s to the 1850s when some of them made the big decision to emigrate to Australia.

More of that story anon.

Jennie and David

All photography copyright ©  Jt and Dy of jtdytravels

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The woodland walk between the Trelissick Gardens and the River Fal is densely planted to help protect the gardens from the wild Cornish winter winds. On a calm day like the one we enjoyed in mid June, it was hard to imagine those harsh winds.

P1150091  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150091 ©  JT of jtdytravels

It’s a very pleasant path with its glimpses of the river through the trees.

P1150090  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150090  ©  JT of jtdytravels

The tiny flowers of Pink Campion, a member of the Silene family, are common along such pathways as well as along roadsides and in hedges all across Cornwall.

P1060207  ©  Dy  of jtdytravels

P1060207  ©  Dy of jtdytravels

The common name of this lovely flower, Bastard Balm, does not really fit with its beauty!  Its botanical name is Melittis melissophyllum but its common name comes from the fact that it imitates the members of the Balm family, the Germanders.  The flowers can have pink or purple centres. They are native to Southern England from New Forest to Cornwall and in South Wales. They grow in shady habitats like this woodland margin.  I’ve seen them before on my walks in the English and Welsh countryside in years gone by and I really enjoyed finding them again.  I felt sorry for the people who just marched along the path without stopping to enjoy the beauty of these tiny woodland flowers.  Maybe they’ve seen them before; but maybe not!

P1060206  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060206  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Foxgloves are a favourite of mine. They were in hedgerows and along roadsides wherever we went in UK. They are also used as garden plants to good effect and there are now some differently coloured hybrids.  I love to look deep inside the flower; no two are the same.

P1150046  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150046  ©  JT of jtdytravels

These tiny, delicate white flowers with their fine green veins on the petals, are sometimes hard to see amongst the dense greenery.

I should know their name but have forgotten!  Any help welcome.

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P1150098  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150098  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Cow parsley was everywhere along the Cornish roadsides and was particularly lovely along this pathway.

P1150094  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150094  ©  JT of jtdytravels

This spectacular tree on the banks of the river stopped us both in our tracks.

It’s magnificent.

P1060208  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060208  ©  DY of jtdytravels

A break in the trees brought us this river view with the bright yellow of rapeseed on the hillside.

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P1150096  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150096  ©  JT of jtdytravels

Yachts were moored in the safety of the Trelissick Estate’s bay.

P1150100  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150100  ©  JT of jtdytravels

A small beach borders one of the farm paddocks. Watch out for the cow pats!

Did these cows produce the wonderful clotted cream that’s served in the cafe?

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P1060215  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060215  ©  DY of jtdytravels

Looking back, a slope leads up to one edge of the gardens.

P1150105   ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150105  ©  JT of jtdytravels

We walked on until we came to a steep, grassy meadow where people’s feet had made a track back up towards the house.  It was rather a steep track, so we rested half way up for me to catch my breath and for us to enjoy the view.  The rest also gave us time to think about the origins of Trelissick House and Gardens, a place that is very well known in Cornwall.  Indeed, it’s considered to be one of the great gardens of the world.   But there are many such great estates in Cornwall.  So,where had the money come from to build these mansions and huge gardens?  The answer is fairly simple; copper, tin and clay mining.  In the case of Trelissick, two of the former owner’s fortunes had come from mines in Cornwall.  One was Ralph Daniell whose father had been known as “guinea-a-minute Daniell”, owner of copper and tin mines.  Another, Ronald Copeland’s family, were porcelain makers of Spode-Copeland fame and that business relied on the fine china clay mined from the pits in Cornwall.

One of the reasons that we were in Cornwall was to research David’s family, some of whom had worked in those mines.  Along with thousands of other miners, men, women and children, they worked for a pittance and for long hours, in difficult and very dangerous conditions whilst the owners grew ever richer on the produce of the miner’s labours.  It’s true, of course, that the owners invested their money in developing the mines and that they gave people work.  But it was the miner’s hard labour that paid for these estates.

So yes, while we do enjoy visiting the big estate gardens, we also know that they came about at the price of hardship in the lives of so many miners and their families, some of them David’s ancestors.  To us, the gardens are a kind of living memorial to those workers.

P1060246  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060246  ©  DY of jtdytravels

The Grecian styled Trelissick House, together with the fairy castle water tower, were built by Ralph Daniell’s son in 1825.  After the Daniell’s became bankrupt, there were several other owners before 1928 when the house and gardens were bought by Leonard Cunliffe, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.  He passed it on to his step daughter, Ida Copeland, who was married to Ronald Copeland (of the famous Spode Copeland Porcelain company).  It’s still the Copeland family home today.

However, the current generation of the Copeland family are now leaving Trelissick;  moving out to a smaller house.  In the process of their downsizing, they have auctioned off (on 23rd and 24th July 2013) most of the furniture, art works and collectables that represent generations of their family’s life.  Pieces for sale included an entire collection of Spode-Copeland ceramics which tell the complete story of the Copelands and their pottery manufacture over the last 200 years.  Reports of what has been called ‘one of the greatest house sales in living memory’ in UK show that many of the prices fetched at auction were well above the estimated value.  We know that the National Trust hoped to buy as many pieces as they could so that those pieces can be kept in the house when it’s opened to the public in the future.  We hope they were successful.

P1150164  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150164  ©  JT of jtdytravels

And after that rest and contemplation, it was time to climb further up the hill and enjoy the view from the house.  It was not the sunny day as shown in the National Trust brochures, but it was impressive none-the-less.  A bite of lunch was next on the list and then time to explore some more of the garden…. and that’s for the next episode of the Trelissick story.

Jennie and David

All photography copyright © JT and DY of jtdytravels

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