Sunday, 8 January 2017

Portscatho January 2017: Part 1

Hooray! Down further west in Cornwall (all of 45 miles from home. Our taste of adventure has not left us) for a week in a cottage with a seaview and easy access to stretches of the coastal footpath that we've yet to tread. We are based near Portscatho which is on the Roseland Peninsular. Some say that this area is the prettiest in the county and we'll see if we agree with that by the end of the week. First impressions are good as we familiarised ourselves with the immediate surroundings before entry time into our cottage.
The view from St Anthony's Head across the Fal estuary towards Falmouth. Pendennis Castle can be made out on the headland opposite.
The eastern side of the Fal estuary, with St Mawes. Together with Pendennis, St Mawes' castle provided defence for the safe anchorage that was the Fal and has been for centuries. The deep water anchorage in the Fal is known to mariners as the Carrick Roads. As an aside, my great grandfather, Caleb Boniface, would have known it well as he was there many times when he was on the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert II in the mid to late 1800s. 
Sun and sea. Can't get my fill of them. This is looking due west towards the Lizard. Keen eyes will be able to pick out the spire of St Keverne in the distance.
The church of St Anthony in Roseland is tucked away off the beaten track on the banks of a creek off the Fal. Now unused, it has been in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust for a decade or so. Luckily for us, they have a policy of leaving churches open for visitors.
This carved Norman door archway was a bit of a surprise.
And the inside was more of a surprise. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't something like this. Although restored by the Victorians, St Anthony's is still pretty much as it was in the 13C and 14C. In fact, Pevsner in his book, The Buildings of Cornwall, ventures the view that this is the best church in the county for seeing how they were in that period. No church porch, no tower on the west but a central spire over the apse. The high arches visible mark the base of the spire.
The church has been associated with the Spry family for four or more centuries. Indeed, the church is joined to their 'mansion' next door through a connecting passage and door. There was a long tradition of naval service in the Spry family (just like mine? Not really, the Spry's tended to end up as Admirals rather than stokers) and the church has a number of fine carved monuments to them.
The mild climate of the Roseland Peninsular is evidenced by the early blossoms of camelias. Ours at home are still in bud.
A nice white specimen. Ours never look like this for long as they suffer from frost damage as soon as they get to this stage.
The graveyard was pretty overgrown but there were some interesting headstones that could be made out. This one piqued my curiosity because it mentioned Arnold Emmett N.Z.R.B. laying down his life in France in 1918. His sister, Louisa (born in Christchurch, New Zealand), predeceased him by 10 years and she is also buried here. A quick Google back in the cottage showed that Louisa died locally in 1908. Was she visiting relatives at the time? There are lots of other Emmetts buried in the graveyard and presumably her parents were part of the Cornish diaspora.
A visit to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's website soon tells us this about Arnold Emmett. He served in the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade and died of wounds in Northern France. The cemetery he is buried in served a number of field hospitals and, from my brief search, I couldn't find out exactly where he received his injuries. Probably in one of the battles that contributed to the Battle of the Somme. His brigade seemed to have been involved in may of them.
Here's Arnold's individual gravestone.
As luck would have it, a relative of Arnold's had linked a photograph of him to his CWGC record. It's always nice to be able to put a face to a name. He came a long way to die.

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