Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home Rule for Cornwall?

The view from Trelissick
We had four nights in Cornwall this week - my summer holiday. The weather was wonderful, and Falmouth, where we stayed, was great. But so much art around the place! We went to the town's art gallery, but it was hosting a party for hundreds of infants and their carers, so you could not get near the exhibits for nappies and (fairly) yummy mummies. They had on the walls of the staircase, though, childrens' pictures inspired by the Tall Ships (they' d been in Falmouth the previous week). My, some of those kids' paintings were terrific.

Silent Witness
Equally awesome was the show at a favourite gallery, Lemon Street in Truro. The potter displaying his work there is Jason Wason. Here is one of his pieces - but you will find other pictures on the Lemon Street website. His studio is in that mysterious far west bit of Cornwall towards Land's End and clearly he is inspired by ancient cultures. The colour on some of his pieces is very subtle, reds and blacks and gold. They are mostly monumental, large and with look of great age and permanence to them.

Trelissick House
We also visited Trelissick. It is in the care of the National Trust. When we last visited the gardens some years ago there was talk of restoring the kitchen garden - apparently they are still talking. But at least the House (a small part of it) is open. It had been built by the Copeland family, and when the contents were sold last year the Trust was able to buy back a few pieces- including some of the important Copeland porcelain. So there is a large dessert service made by Spode and given as a wedding present to one of the Copelands in the early 19th Century.

The best part of going to Cornwall, though, is seeing old friends. We had lunch with Robin Thomas and his sister in Truro. Robin is a former student of mine at S Stephen's House, now retired but still assisting at St George's. On the way home we stopped  off for Coffee at Alverton Manor - strange name for a hotel formed from the one-time Convent of Anglican Sisters (of the Epiphany). The buildings must be listed, so the Chapel had been converted into a 'great hall' and very dismal it looks. The window on the left is one of three which survives at the entrance to the Wedding Hall. We'd arranged to meet Robbie and Sara Low, who had been in to Truro for dental appointments.

Shrouded Chapel and shrouded chairs posing as a Wedding Venue: O Tempora, O Mores.

Appearances can deceive
They became Catholics some while before the Ordinariate was born, with the result that Robbie was Ordained much later than most of us in the Ordinariate.... he went the long way round and is now a priest of the Diocese of Plymouth. Many will remember when Robbie and Sarah - with others such as Geoffrey Kirk - produced a memorable monthly magazine for Anglo-Catholics called New Directions. There is still a publication which goes by the same name, but it bears little relation to the witty and lively magazine of those far-off days. Just as the Hotel is not the same thing as a Convent, despite outward appearances.

Though buildings may disappoint, old friends do not: and we chatted away merrily over coffee for an hour or so with the Lows, putting the world (and especially the Church - in all its manifestations) to rights.

Robbie and Sara in full flood.
Now it is time to prepare for tomorrow, Sunday - when I discovered on our return that Fr Darryl has a Baptism (with about fifty relations) fixed for the Ordinariate Mass.... so that will be fun.

As for the Title of this piece - many years ago, on one of those dire days for Junior Clergy which Archdeacons used to arrange, we were asked what we thought would be in the news forty years on. I ventured "Home Rule for Cornwall", Alas, it looks as though I might have been prophetic. As a Devonian I have to deplore the new habit of putting street signs in what must be an attempt at Cornish. The last Cornish speaker, Dolly Pentreath, was laid to rest two hundred and thirty seven years ago. She must be rotating gently in her tomb at these attempts at resuscitating an utterly dead tongue - it's quite bad enough than our grandson has to waste his time at school wrestling with Welsh.