The 29th of January is the feast day of Gildas.
Gildas was a six-century cleric, his work is an important source for those interested in the legend of Arthur because he wrote of the events and the people of his own time and this fact makes him a contemporary of King Arthur. Four centuries later, Gildas or the followers of Gildas are mentioned in the tenth century Annales Cambriae or Annals of Wales where these followers rose up against King Arthur, refusing to acknowledge him as king.
We can place Gildas in the early history of Cornwall, and we know that he had many followers living Cornwall after his death. My 5x great grandmother was Patience Tregilgas whose family I have traced to a piece of land just outside Mevagissey in Cornwall called Tregilgas. Tre is Cornish for home and therefore this piece of land is the ancient settlement of some of the followers of Gildas.
On the 19th January in 1643, Sir Ralph Hopton led his Royalist forces to victory at the Battle of Braddock Down, an area that lies between Lostwithiel and Liskeard in Cornwall.
Hopton’s forces spent the night of the 18th January camped near the village of Boconnoc, the following morning they woke to find a Parliamentarian army deployed at what is now Largin Farm on the east side of Braddock Down.
The Parliamentarian forces, under the command of Colonel Ruthven, were making their way into Cornwall from Devon.
More of a skirmish than a battle this clash of arms saw the surrender of a large number of Parliamentarians, the capture of five cannons assorted weaponry and, according to the Royalist, only two of their men were lost.
In the following, May Hopton's forces would again defeat the Parliamentarian forces at the Battle of Stratton.
The last time Britain was invaded by a hostile force was in 1595 in Cornwall.
It was between the 23rd and the 25th of July that Spanish ships arrived at Mounts Bay, where there were a number of Cornish soldiers who were there to do battle with the invaders. Many of these men soon abandoned their posts, only Francis Godolphin, as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and commander of the local force, along with just a dozen of his soldiers stood in defense of Cornwall.
The Spanish soon made way to the tiny fishing village of Mousehole, its forces burnt the village and some surrounding hamlets, including the village of Paul causing its frightened inhabitants to flee in panic.
In 1333 Cornish born John Arundell had aided Edward III by supplying the king with troops at Battle of Halidon Hill on the 19th July of that year.
This battle was the result of Edward's support of Edward Balliol's claim to the throne of Scotland. Edward III's actions had broken the terms of the Treaty of Northampton, which he had agreed to three years earlier.
On this day in 1333 at Berwick on Tweed, for this service to the crown, John Arundell was rewarded with the granting of a charter which gave his manor of St Columb Major the right to hold a market every Thursday, also granted was the right to hold an annual fair on the ‘day and the morrow of the Feast of St Columba the Virgin.' This charter was issued at Berwick on Tweed by Edward III and signed John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall, Edward III younger brother
The text of the charter reads:
Roll 7th, Edward the Third. For Sir John de Arendel, the king to the same, health.
Know ye, that we of our especial grace, have granted and, by this our charter, have confirmed to our beloved and faithful John de Arendel, that he and his heirs, for ever, may have a market every Thursday at his Manor of St Columb Magna, and a fair every year, on the eve and on the day and the morrow of St Columba the Virgin, to these being witness..........given by our hand at Berwick on Tweed, the 23rd day of July 1333 at the battle of Halidown Hill, the 19th day of July 1333.
By writ of our Privy Seal.
The growth of the Cornish market town of St Columb Major owes much to the Arundell family. Known as the Great Arundells they were a powerful and noteworthy family. You can read more about them here:
Around the year 1300, there was written, by a "Citizen of Paris" a helpful treatises on the subject of the home and marriage. This treatises was advice for the citizen's new, fifteen-year-old wife.
Well, among the advice given in the above treatises was how she could keep her bedroom and bed free of fleas and flies, how to earn the love of God and a number of recipes and among these recipes there is one for “Lombard Chicken Pasties”
Take a look at the original recipe:
Chickens be set in a pastry on their backs with the breast upward and large slices of bacon on the breast, and then covered. Item in the Lombard manner, when the chickens be plucked and prepared, take beaten eggs (to wit yolks and whites) with verjuice and spice powder and dip your chickens therin; then set them in the pasty with strips of bacon as above.
So, did the pasty originate in Cornwall or Paris?
On the 8th March in 1859, Scottish author Kenneth Grahame was born to Cunningham Grahame and his wife Bessie at Castle Street in Edinburgh.
After his birth, the family moved house a number of times and by 1864 Grahame and his siblings found themselves staying with their grandmother at Cookham Dene in Berkshire. It was here that Grahame discovered his love of boating, rivers and story writing.
Kenneth Grahame's most famous story is, of course, The Wind in the Willows - the tales of Ratty and Mole.
You can read about how I came across a letter written by the author in a hotel in Falmouth Cornwall.
On this day in 1908 Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows was published.
It was while I was staying at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth that I passed a glass case on the wall of a corridor in the hotel. Looking closer I discovered that encased within were letters written by Kenneth Grahame.
In 2007, we were staying at the Greenbank Hotel while visiting our daughter who was studying art at Falmouth University, funnily enough Kenneth Grahame was staying at the Greenbank in 1907, exactly one hundred years earlier. It was during his holiday and while on a boat trip from Fowey that he was inspired to write his story.
It was as his boat passed along riverbanks of the River Fowey that the idea came to him for his tale The Wind in the Willows.
His stories began as a series of letters to his son, two of these letters are the ones I saw at the Greenbank Hotel.
This is my copy of The Wind in The Willows that was part of my late father's book collection.
Known as father figure of the Newlyn artists, Samuel John Birch was born in Egremont, Cheshire and in his youth moved to Manchester in Lancashire to work in its mills.
From 1889 he regularly visited Cornwall and came under the influence of Stanhope Forbes, the founder of the Newlyn School of Art. These artists, included the brilliant pre Raphalite artist Thomas Cooper Gotchin and Norman Garstin were drawn to Newlyn because of the bright light and the relaxed atmosphere.
By 1892, Birch had moved to Cornwall, settling in the Lamorna Valley and adopted the name ‘Lamorna’ in 1895 on the suggestion of Stanhope Forbes to distinguish himself from fellow Newlyn artist Lionel Birch.
Birch was a self-taught artist who was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1924 and was made a full Royal Academician eight years later. He exhibited over two hundred works at the Royal Academy. In 1947, the people of Cornwall presented two paintings by Birch to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of their marriage.
Lamorna Birch died in 1955, his obituary in the Times said:
“Birch, who was an athletic bearded man, looking very much younger than his years with the bright eyes and eager manner of a terrier, was the best of companions in any grade of society.”
For more of his works please click the link below.
The summer solstice or Litha, meaning a stopping or standing still of the sun, by tradition has been attracting people to monuments such as Stonehenge and Avebury for thousands of years.
Once gathered people are able to witness the sun rising and setting on the longest day of the year.
The origins of the Cornish Obby Oss dates back to the Beltane festival which celebrates the coming of summer or the Celtic worship of horse deities. It has been suggested that it may be related to the tradition of the Grey Mare in South Wales.
The Obby Oss is one of many ritual beasts and monsters found in English folk traditions, in addition to Padstow’s Obby Oss there was a tradition in West Penwith of a similar creature called Pengwyn and another named Penglas, meaning grey/blue head, which was probably a horse’s skull that is usually associated with other festive occasions such as the midsummer fire festival Golowan, celebrated in Penzance, which has quite recently been revived.
There is mention of a Oss in the Cornish language play Beunans Meriasek, about the life of a saint from the Cornish town of Camborne and the Oss is a companion or follower.
The parish church of Lezant in Cornwall, has links to St Briochus, an obscure Celtic saint who ended his journey along the River Tamar by finding a religious settlement there. The present church is a fine example of perpendicular architecture and was restored in 1869.
If you enter through the porch it has an ancient roof with floral and human bosses, one rather strange one has foliage growing from a human mouth, the pagan Green Man a symbol of fertility. Once inside we find that the roof has oak timber and wall plates also showing foliage.
The most interesting piece within this church is the Trefusis memorial plaque and tombs. One tomb is a stone figure of a woman, probably Thomas Trefusis wife, reclining on a cushion and one of their daughter with a little figure of death behind her. The memorial is carved in relief displaying three shields, that of the families of Tresithney and Coryton and of course Trefusis whose shield bearing its arms quartered with that of my ancestor's Myliton of Pengersick Castle.
The churches oldest possession is the massive 12th century octagonal Ventergen font, that was originally with carved heads on each corner. It has a carved leaf emblem on its side as you can see.
History is so interesting isn't it? Do you love the story of King Alfred's unsuccessful afternoon in the kitchen or King Cnut unsuccessful attempt not to get his feet wet? Maybe you're interested in when the Normans landing on our shores or the stories of an era closer to our time?
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- Scoboryo of St Columb Major >
Thomas Vaughan: An Introduction
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