Forgotten Memories of Tremough Convent School

As you drive towards the main campus of Falmouth University sharp modernist buildings fill the skyline. This once grand private estate has now been a place of learning and education for more than 70 years. Since Tremough Convent School closed its doors in 1993 however the old buildings have mostly been swallowed up by new development and forgotten.

The Les Filles de le Croix, a religious order founded in France in 1641, bought Tremough from the Longfield family in June 1943. Alongside their service to God, their mission was to provide girls with the same educational opportunities as boys.

Sister Augustine, one of Tremough’s last surviving Sisters, always felt that teaching was her special calling. “I just loved it, the Sisters were well trained you see and very dedicated.”

When the school opened rationing was at its height and it only succeeded through the sheer determination and resourcefulness of the Sisters and the formidable Mother Patricia.

tremough3

Transforming the former mansion of Tremough House into a functioning school was a mammoth task. The grand bedrooms were converting into classrooms, the ballroom into the chapel and the old stable block was made into the first dormitories.

When the first pupils arrived rationing meant feeding them was a challenge. The Sisters established orchards, greenhouses and vegetable gardens and soon the school had a constant supply of fresh produce. This tradition of ‘grow-your-own’ for the school dinner table continued into the 1980s, although it seems it was not always popular with the girls.

“The school lunches were terrible” says Stephanie Paddy who attended Tremough from 1958. “I remember being served beetroot which they grew in the walled garden, Sister Vincent tried to make me eat it by saying it would make my cheeks nice and rosy, I have a dislike of beetroot even now.”

tremough2

Another former pupil Lesley Treloar joined the school as a day girl, cycling from the nearby village of Mabe. “Rhubarb deserts used to feature an awful lot because the grounds were pretty much covered by it, I have hated rhubarb ever since.”

The food aside, the school was an instant success. The Falmouth Packet reported in September 1944 that several of the girls had won national awards and that Tremough was welcoming more pupils than ever. That success continued throughout the school’s lifetime.

“There were small classes you see” Sister Augustine tells me with pride, “I could take girls out for a one to one help, I was quite good at that”.

Lesley thinks that being a Tremough girl certainly opened doors for her in job interviews. “I believe I had a great education. They were strict for sure and didn’t stand any nonsense but it wasn’t unkind . . . I can remember [they] just taught you a lot of respect for your elders and authority, which is not a bad thing . . . it has shaped me into a strong character.”

Much of the school day was structured around the Catholic faith, the girls recited the ‘Hail Mary’ throughout the day, regularly visited statues of saints found in the grounds to pray and were expected to wear hats and gloves at all times.

Sister Augustine, originally from Ireland, entered her religious life at just 16 and puts the strictness down to the Sister’s own educations “It comes from our background I suppose as Irish Catholics we were kind of strict but we certainly did the best we possibly could for the girls, everything was for them.”

Sister Augustine smiles as she tells me about the girls swimming on hot days in the ornamental pond in the Italian garden. “It was fun here for the girls, they did have a lot of freedom too.”

The school eventually closed when many of the Sisters became too old to teach and funding dried up. The last 6 remaining Sisters now live together in Bethany House, Falmouth and still work enthusiastically in the community.

 

Advertisements

Falmouth’s Mystery Pyramid

cornishbirdblog

Isn’t it strange that you can see something a thousand times in your life and never really question what it is or why it is there?  That was how I felt when one day I actually stopped and looked at the Killigrew monument in the centre of Falmouth.

20160307_110113

When I got home I had a quick read and found out that this pyramid was built in 1737 by Martin Lister Killigrew.  I can tell you it’s vital statistics.  It stands 44 ft high, cost £455 and is made of dressed granite from a quarry near Trevethen Beacon.  But to cut a long story short I can’t really tell you why it is there, no one it seems is entirely sure what exactly it is for or why it was built.

The pyramid under construction/deconstruction.

Martin was the last of the Killigrew line.  Martin Lister took the Killigrew name when he married Anne Killigrew, clearly…

View original post 509 more words

Gribbin Head Daymark – Open for a Bird’s Eye View!

Every Sunday this summer you can enjoy what has to be one of the most outstanding views on the Cornish coast.

DSC06028

The Gribbin Head Daymark is very striking. Its outline can be seen for literally miles, both inland and of course out to sea. That is after all the whole point.

The tower stands 84′ (26m) high and was constructed in 1832 by Trinity House. This historic corporation is still responsible for the majority of the lighthouses and markers that keep shipping safe around the entire coast of the UK. It was formed by Royal Charter more than 500 years by Henry VIII and its full name to this day is “The Master Wardens and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity or Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity”.

The headland and the daymark are now owned and managed by the National Trust who open the tower to visitors a few days a year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a stunning piece of coastline with secluded coves, ancient woodland and epic views. This is also an area of Cornwall which was very familiar to the author Daphne du Maurier who lived in the derelict Menabilly House just a mile or so inland from Gribbin Head. I have walked past the stripped red and white tower many times but today was the first time I have climbed it. It is a steady 84 slate steps and a short ladder to the top.  The doorway is a bit of a squeeze but wow the view really is cracking!

DSC06012

On a clear day you can see more than 40 miles along the coast. As far south as Carn Marth near Redruth and up past Rame Head and Plymouth and out to the Eddystone Lighthouse and beyond. The Daymark was built so that ships could distinguish Gribbin Head from nearby Dodman Point and St Anthony Head and therefore find safe passage into Fowey harbour.

DSC06025

When I come here I usually leave my car in the Menabilly Farm field car park – they ask 50p for the whole day – leave your money in the old milk churn. Just make sure you are out of the field before they lock the gate at 9pm!DSC06032

PL24 2TN should get you there with your sat nav, just don’t drive through the gates into Menabilly Estate, keep going straight til you see the signs for the car park. From here it is about a half an hour walk, part of it up a steep hill. Alternatively if you are feeling fit you can walk from Fowey or Polkerris. There is a nice circular walk from Menabilly – Gribbin – Polkerris -Menabilly.

The Trust will be opening the tower every sunday between 2nd Jul- 10th Sept, 11am to 5pm.

 

Survival Guide to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Yes I am aware that Stonehenge is not in Cornwall. However firstly I had such a wonderful experience that I wanted to share it and secondly I could find out very little information about the proceedings before I went so I thought that anyone thinking of going another year might like to read my top tips!

DSC05730

So this is it – the season has rolled round again and we are now heading towards Autumn and ultimately Winter. Not the best thought when we are all just getting used to the sun on our shoulders and the sand between our Cornish toes. Continue reading

Take a Trip to Looe Island

It seems to me that there is nothing quite as romantic as living on your own private island. Looe Island lies just one mile off the Cornish coast but feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the busy summer seaside towns nearby.  It is home to a breath-taking range of wildlife and 2 very lucky people!

The Moonraker boat takes us the short journey from Buller Quay in East Looe to the makeshift landing point on the white shingle beach of the island. As our small party of 8 people jumps ashore we are greeted by Claire Lewis and her partner Jon Ross.  The pair have been wardens on the island for 9 years, “When the job came up in 2008 we were the lucky ones who got it” Claire laughs as she gives us a quick guide to the “dos and don’t” of the island. Continue reading

Tornado in Bodmin

There is nothing quite like a steam train! And there is no steam train quite like the Tornado! So when I had the chance to climb abroad I didn’t need to be asked twice.

The Tornado is the first steam train to be built in the UK since the 1960s, it was completed in 2009 with all new parts (apart from 3 bits) and so it actually testament to some really awesome old school British engineering. Continue reading

My Guide to Open Studios

Once a year makers all over the county open up their studios to the public. Its a rare and precious opportunity to seeing all kinds of craftspeople – potters, jewellers and painters at work and buy straight from them.

DSC03775I try and fill my life with what makes me happy – my friends, walking, writing, photography and learning something new. I want to spend my time doing as much of what I love as possible and I have to admit not having the responsibility of children allows me to do that freely!

Art (beautiful things) is also one of my loves.

Today I visited the Open Studios event at the Krowji Creative Space in Redruth.

For years I have seen the bright orange O’s in the hedgerows, not really realising what it signifies (that there is a maker nearby you can visit) but I learnt that at Krowji you visit about 50 craftspeople all in one place, without the hassle and extra cost of driving about the countryside.

I have to say I have had a really wonderful day. So many beautiful and inventive things to see it is really hard to pick which ones to talk about but these are my highlights! I particularly enjoyed the bright and bold screenprints of Paul Bawden especially when he let me have a good myself! So much fun and such a lovely man!

DSC03778

Continue reading

Cornish Blues

Of course the traditional colours of Cornwall are black and gold (or black and white like the St Pirans flag) but there is another colour that I know resonates through our landscape. Blue.

DSC03767

As I was falling to sleep last night I was thinking back over my day. It had been a glorious May day, more like the height of summer really and I had spent it taking photographs on Gwithian beach.  The sea had be ever-changing shades of deep navy blue, emerald green and turquoise and the sky, well it was just the most wonderful shade of . . . how to describe it . . . well. . . it was Cornish blue. Continue reading

Randigal Rhymes

In the back of Joseph Thomas’ book of poems entitled “Randigal Rhymes” you will find, along with a list of Cornish proverbs and charm for toothache, a glossary of Cornish words.  The first one that you should look up of course is randigal and you will find that it means “a rigmarole, a nonsensical story”.

DSC03633

 

Joseph Thomas spent his life listening.  He listened to the stories of fishwives and tin-miners, circus performers and princes, old men and school children and what he heard inspired his writing.

Joseph almost certainly didn’t write with any expectation of publication, indeed we can only read his poems now because they were printed by subscription by his friends after his death. My copy of his book was printed in 1895 and is rather battered and bruised but you can find reprints of “Randigal Rhymes and a Glossary of Cornish Words” here.

Joseph Thomas wrote because he loved it and because he seemed to want to record the comedy, beauty and whimsy of his world. Continue reading