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Facts

CORNWALL

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FUN FACTS

Cornwall is the 17th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Cornwall has the 39th highest population in England.
Cornwall is in 40th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate, set up by Edward III in 1337 to provide independence to his son and heir, Prince Edward. It was the first duchy created in England. By the way, a duchy is an area ruled by a duke. The Duke of Cornwall can only be the oldest living son of the monarch and the heir to the throne. He must be both. Should that son die before the monarch, the title becomes part of the titles of the reigning monarch.

    I thought I would make it easier for you to understand but then I got confused. If Prince Charles dies before the Queen, the duchy should become part of the titles of the monarch but, as the title can only go to a male, it could not become part of the titles of the reigning monarch. However the estates would come under Her Majesty's control.

    Prince William would then be heir to the throne but he would not be Duke of Cornwall, as he is the monarch's grandson not son. However, when William becomes King, Prince George would be Duke of Cornwall automatically at the same moment. However, if the Queen dies before Charles, who then becomes King, William would immediately be Duke of Cornwall.

    Just to destroy the idea that I was making this easier, if Charles had not had any children then, on his death before the Queen, Prince Andrew would have become Duke of Cornwall as he would be the monarch's eldest living son and heir to the throne.

    The new succession to the Crown Act of 2013 stated that those in line to the throne, born after 28th October 2011, would succeed in age order with no preference to males. The charter granting the Duchy of Cornwall to the monarchs eldest living son and heir is not altered by the new act.

    His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is the 24th Duke of Cornwall and the longest serving. The shortest serving was Henry, son of Henry VIII, who was born in November 1514, was the eldest son of Henry VIII and heir to the throne but died the same day.

    The Duchy owns 126,000 acres (51,000 hectares) of land in 22 counties, roughly half of the land is on Dartmoor in Devon. Apart from farms and small holdings, the Duchy also owns residential properties, shops and offices as well as stocks and shares. The property portfolio includes Kennington Oval and 45 acres in Kennington itself. The Duchy is run by the Prince's Council, a non-executive board chaired by the Prince of Wales. Day to day matters are handled by a staff of about 80 (including valets and private secretaries) and is headed by the Secretary and Keeper of Records to the Duchy. Now you know.

  3. Cornwall Eats
  4. It didn't take much time to decide what food should go here. Cornwall is famous all over the world for the Cornish pasty. For those that don't know a pasty is a pastry package filled with meat and vegetables. However, to be a genuine Cornish pasty there are some rules to follow. In 2011 Cornish pasties were given Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

    The rules are as follows-:

    • they have to be made in Cornwall, although not necessarily baked in Cornwall

    • they can only contain beef, potato, Swede, onion, salt and pepper. No other meat, no other vegetables, no other seasoning allowed.

    • there must be at least 12.5% beef and 25% vegetables in the whole pasty.

    • the ingredients must be raw when the pasties are assembled.

    • they should be shaped like a 'D' and crimped on one side, not on the top.


    The pasties were taken for lunch by Cornish miners and it is often said that the crimping allowed the miners to hold the pasty with dirty fingers and not touch the food they would eat. However the pasties were often wrapped in muslin so this may or may not be true. Certainly the crimping made sure all the ingredients stayed inside the pasty. What is more the folded pastry could stay warm for several hours, and if it did get cold, it could easily be warmed on a shovel over a lamp or even a candle. The type of pastry used is not defined, as long as it is golden in colour, usually brushed with milk or egg, and will not crack during the cooking or cooling, although modern pasties almost always use a shortcrust pastry.

    Later on some wives would make a two-part pasty with one end filled as standard and the other end filled with a sweet filling, maybe of fruit, to provide a complete meal. This could be why it is also said that the miners initials could be engraved in pastry on one end of the pasty so they could find their own pasty if they didn't finish it all in one go.

    While the "genuine" Cornish pasty has its set ingredients, and no others, in olden days they could be filled with all manner of scraps and were a good source of cheap food for poor families.

    Nowadays, certainly on my many visits to Cornwall, there are all manner of savoury and sweet pasties. A particular favourite of mine is chocolate and banana although, to be honest, nothing beats a good old-fashioned, traditional Cornish pasty, providing the gulls of Padstow don't swoop down and carry it away.

    At least 120 million genuine Cornish pasties are made each year.

  5. Cornwall VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Cornwall in the last 100 years:-
    Mick Fleetwood (Musician), Dame Kristin Scott Thomas (Actor), William Golding (Author ‐ Lord of the Flies), Helen Glover (Rower ‐ Olympic Gold Medallist), the late Charles Causley (Poet), Molly Hocking (Singer) and Nick Darke (Playwright).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. The south west of England, and thereby Cornwall, has often seemed like a separate country. Cornwall had its own language, the last native speaker was Dolly Pentreath, who died in 1777, although there are still said to be some speakers of the language today. Cornwall also clung to many Celtic traditions which developed from Iron Age Times. Beltane is the Celtic festival celebrated, on 1st May, as the start of summer. We know it as May Day but in Padstow, in Cornwall, it is also known as the 'Obby 'Oss festival and has been celebrated for hundreds of years.

    In simple terms, the festival involves two groups of people dancing through the town. Traditionally only those whose families have lived in Padstow for at least two generations are permitted to take part in the processions. Each procession contains an 'Obby 'Oss, basically a person dressed in an oval frame, covered in black oilskin, which has a small horse's head in the front with a snapping jaw. The 'Oss is led by an individual known as the Teaser, who is dressed in white and carries a painted club and is followed by a group of people, also dressed in white, some playing accordions,melodeons and drums. The whole town is decorated with flowers and tree branches are tied to lamp-posts and drainpipes.

    Originally there was only one 'Oss but a new one was introduced about 100 years ago. The new 'Oss, also known as the Blue Ribbon 'Obby 'Oss leaves the Padstow Institute at 10.00am while the old 'Oss leaves the Golden Lion Inn at 11.00am. Both go on a dance around the town before returning to their starting places and doing it all again twice more during the day. In the evening all the supporters meet up at the Maypole and more dancing and singing takes place.

    I was at the festival during my 1994-95 trip and I can assure you that an amazing about of people, some said 30,000, cram into Padstow on that day.

    Meanwhile, further south at Helston on 8th May, they have the Furry Dance. Again, it's an all-day festival, there is much dancing and the whole community join in. A big brass drum strikes the first beat of the dance at 7.00am. This is the early morning dance and goes all around the town. At 8.30am there is the Hal an Tow parade where performers tell the history of Helston. At 9.50 over 1200 Children from Helston's four schools, all dressed in white with headdresses and ties representing each of the schools, make a dancing procession around the town. As the town clock strikes noon another group, which I think is made up of those born in Helston and is led by the town band, dance again through the town and finally, at 5.00pm, the early morning dancers return through the town again and end up at the Guildhall.

    This is tradition as it should be. Maybe weird in our modern world but also a chance to see what communities were like and still are like. I haven't yet been to Helston on 8th May. Note the use of the word "yet". I'll be there soon. I've taken the pictures below from the offical Flora Day website. Check it out.



  9. It Happened Here
  10. Mining in Cornwall began around the start of the Bronze Age, about 2,300BC. In one of those wonderful bits of luck that runs through history, the Bronze Age started because people discovered how to make bronze. Bronze is not a stand-alone metal; it is made of two other metals, copper and tin. The combination made a very strong metal.

    Cornwall, in particular, was lucky. It had deposits of both copper and tin. At first tin was found in the gravel of river beds. Then it began to be mined underground. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, at the time of the Industrial Revolution, the whole landscape of Cornwall, and west Devon, was changed as new machines allowed mines to go far deeper. The whole area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site such was its contribution to the period of industrial expansion and prolific innovation. In this later time, well after the Bronze Age, copper was used to protect the hulls of ocean-going timber ships, for domestic ware, and as a major constituent of important alloys such as brass. The use of tin also increased with tin cans needed for food and in the communications industry. At one time there were 2,000 tin mines in Cornwall.

    But mining was dangerous. Men were often killed in the mines. On October 20th 1919 a major disaster took place at the Levant Mine. By 1855 the Levant mine was more than 1,600 feet below the surface. For the mine workers, the day started with a 60 minute climb down ladders and finished with a 90 minute climb back up. It was decided to install a man engine. A man engine, in simple terms, is a bit like an escalator but far less sophisticated. This is a little animation showing how one type of man engine might work. Obviously men could go up or down.

    The man engine at Levant was slightly different from the animation. It was powered by a steam engine and only had one vertical shaft with steps not two. When the shaft was at the bottom of its cycle a man, going up, steps on the small platform, goes up 12 feet and steps off onto a platform built into the side of the shaft. At the bottom of the next cycle he steps on to the shaft again and is raised another 12 feet. In other words he goes up 12 foot at a time. To descend, it all happens in reverse.

    The accident happened because the shaft broke with about 100 men on it. It then fell down the mine but got wedged so did not crush miners at the bottom. Nevertheless 31 miners were killed and many more injured.

    The accident was the worst since one at the East Wheal Rose mine in 1846 when 39 men and boys died. However, this accident was caused by a sudden freak downpour which sent water cascading down the valley and into the mine.

    The last Cornish tin mine closed in 1998. However the Geevor Tin Mine has since re-opened as a visitor attraction and you can find out more about it here.



  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I may just have given a hint that I love Cornwall. You noticed? It is also a county with the longest coastline in England and where I have visited on all 3 of my trips and spent a large number of holidays. In fact, I reckon I have spent a total time of nearly a year in Cornwall during my life. There are also, to me, so many memorable places. In order for this not to turn into a novel I decided to limit myself to just seven; seven places that had the "wow" factor the first time I saw them and have remained that way ever since. Let's start on the north west coast and head south.

    Boscastle is a perfect, picturesque Cornish village. It has a stream running through it down to the sea but I gather that on the very day but 52 years later that 34 people died in the Lynmouth floods, (see the Devon pages) Boscastle had its own flood. Luckily no one died but there was a fair amount of devastation. When I returned in 2016 it looked just as beautiful as I did when I first saw it in 1969. You can look down the stream toward the open sea, walk down to it as well and when you get there you find high cliffs creating a natural harbour. Then you use your imagination to see tall masted 16th century sailing ships threading their way between the cliffs. Two of my own pictures let you do just that.


    Just a little down the coast is Tintagel, always linked to King Arthur but I have spotted from the photograph I googled that there has been a change since my last visit. In all my previous visits you had to walk down a path to the shore and then climb the steps you can see in the photo. Now it seems they have built a bridge to take people across to the site of the castle. Despite my age, and providing it is still possible, I think next time I'll stick to the walk and the climb. That bridge seems a little bit high for my liking. Meanwhile, right down on the shore, where the water is white in the bottom centre, at low tide you can walk into Merlin's cave.

    Then comes Padstow and everything you could ever want in one place. Freshly caught fish, a superb harbour, cafes, restaurants, pasty shops, Rick Stein and if you walk through the town and round the headland a superb stretch of sand and water. I love Padstow. Further south, Newquay is far bigger and has the huer's house (look it up), St Ives was the hippie capital of England for a while and the sands at Perranporth are at least 2 miles long but Padstow has something else and I think it's an atmosphere. It's busy in the summer but it's so self-contained. One word of warning. It's a long walk uphill from the harbour to the car parks. Nice houses to pass, narrow streets to enjoy but please make sure, unlike my son in 2016, that you haven't left your car key down in the village with your wife. It's not quite such a nice walk the second time.

    The next two "wows" occurred in the space of a few minutes. This was on my second coastal trip and we decided to visit the Minack theatre, more in a minute. Before going in I took a walk past the entrance and came across one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. Seriously, I was amazed. The photo to the left of Porthcurno Cove was taken on my latest visit to Cornwall in 2016 and the view is still as jaw-dropping as ever. The colour of the water, the backdrop of the cliffs, the sand, the people, it's idyllic. As one person commented when they saw a similar photo from that second trip, "I thought you'd gone to the Caribbean". Porthcurno has its own story to tell as the place that submarine telegraph cables laid across the Atlantic Ocean first came ashore in 1870.

    I then left this incredible view and almost immediately found another but this one had not been created by nature. In simple terms the Minack theatre is an open-air theatre carved into the side of the cliffs. In itself that's a quite remarkable feat but when you learn it was the brainchild of one women and much of the work was carried out by her and her gardener it takes on a whole new perspective.

    Rowena Cade was born in 1893. She moved to Cornwall in the early 1920s and bought the Minack headland for £100. She got involved with an open-air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and when the company wanted to next stage The Tempest she offered them her cliff garden. For the rest of her life, she died in 1983, Rowena spent building the theatre you can see today. She and her helpers used mainly hand tools to make the theatre. A most definite "wow" and a testimony to what hard work and a vision can achieve. By the way, the Tempest was first performed there in 1932.

    Two to go and it's not looking good for number 7. If you travel down to Cornwall by train, your final possible destination would be Penzance. If you go east a few miles from the town, you come across a small island out in the bay called St Michael's Mount. You can reach the island by boat or, if the tide is out, by walking the causeway. It would appear from the photo below that some people ignore the tidal changes. It was a must visit on my earliest trips to Cornwall but imagine my surprise when, in 1997 while holiday in northern France, I came across the castle atop an island over there, which is the third photo in the pic below. It is known as Mont Saint Michel. Coincidnece or what.


    So what is my final choice. Well, it's not the delightfully named Squeezebelly Alley in Port Isaac nor the small cove at Poldhu where I got sunstroke and the first wireless message was transmitted across the Atlantic to Marconi (different years). It's not the unspoilt ruggedness of the Lizard, England's most southerly point, nor the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek. It's not the two castles of Pendennis and St Mawes at Falmouth, the quaint and beautiful village of Mevagissey nor the old-fashioned chain-driven ferry at Fowey. It's not even the white china clay landscape around St Austell or the very modern Eden Project nearby. It's .......too difficult to choose so I'll leave you with one more typical Cornish scene, again at Boscastle. Cream Teas are pretty good here too.



  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The peregrine falcon is a large powerful bird of the falcon family. It has long, pointed wings and a short tail. It is fast in flight and very agile. Peregrines can be seen all year round, especially on rocky sea cliffs around the UK. They can be seen in winter hunting above the East Coast marshes. They can also be seen around farmland and grassland.

    Their feathers are black, grey and white. Young birds also have brown and cream colouring. They have a blackish head and a white face. Their legs are yellow and their beaks are black and yellow, short and hooked, powerful and chunky. They eat medium-sized birds such as pigeons and small ducks,

    Peregrines have been seriously endangered although they are now better protected. They have been killed because they can catch and kill game birds and racing pigeons. People also steal their eggs for collections. Peregrines are a Schedule 1 listed species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act. There are about 1,500 breeding pairs in the UK

    Peregrines are between 40 and 50 cms in length, have a wingspan between 95 and 115 cms and can weigh between 600 and 1,300 grams.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Cornwall check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020