Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Independent Identity Cornwall’s Charm

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Counties Bordering Plymouth Sound is the port’s promenade called The Hoe that includes a bowling green like that used by Sir Francis Drake before sailing against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

 Story & Photo

 By Pat Neisser

 Mature Life Features

PENZANCE, Cornwall — England’s southwestern tip is the magical territory where Gilbert and Sullivan set their classic fun-poking operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, and the village of Mousehole is celebrated in the tale of Tom Bawcock and his cat, Mowzer. It’s a scene fostered by a citizenry battling and beating the elements that prides itself with its own identity and keeps a wary lookout for doubters. The fishermen are serious about their livelihood and don’t brook interference. But once they’ve finished their tough day, they’re ready to befriend the visitor. The Cornish peninsula is less crowded than better-known areas of the country and its towns hug the sea with an age-old love-hate relationship. I took the train from Southampton to Exeter in County Devon and drove to Penzance after an overnight stay. Cornwall’s and Devon’s history goes back more than 4,000 years but written records reach back to 30 B.C. when seafaring visitors came looking for tin. The Spanish invaded in 1595 but were driven back into the sea, marking the last landing on English soil by invaders. Cornish miners emigrated to California and Colorado to teach silver miners a thing or two and took with them the famous Cornish pasty meat pies. Penzance and its sister villages along the coast are loaded with things to do. Even if you aren’t fond of pilchards (large sardines) don’t miss a visit to the Pilchard Factory and Museum in next-door Newlyn where we were shown how the fish are salt-cured and packed for shipping all over the world. In Newlyn, one of the largest fishing harbors in England with eateries scattered along the beaches, we visited Trinity House National Lighthouse Centre to learn how the famed lighthouse saved so many sailors. A highlight of our visit was the Eden Project, which is housed in acres of environmental domes, each offering a different climate. Actors and scientists interact to explain the place of man and nature in the environmental universe. Next we visited the tiny coastal communities of Fowey, home to Daphne Du Maurier and her famous acting and writing family, and St. Ives, which romance novelist Rosamunde Pilcher calls home and where Barbara Hepworth created many of her magnificent sculptures. St. Ives is a fairy-tale seaport town with lanes that wind up and up. One of its most famous creations is the Tate Gallery St. Ives that  shows modern art from local as well as international artists. Tropical  plants, such as palm trees and cacti, cover this part of England thanks to the nearby Gulf Stream, bringing a California look to the terrain. Finally, it was back to neighboring County Devon and the south-coast seaport of Plymouth. This was Sir Francis Drake’s place of business and the site of the Mayflower’s departure. We stood on the famous steps where the pilgrims boarded their ship. The old town near the water is filled with 17th century memorabilia.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 28, 2014 at 9:36 pm

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