Sunday, July 10, 2005


The Lost (Cornish) World

Friday's Times of London describes the rediscovery and restoration of a pristine Cornish hamlet. It's been hidden from the roads and owned by one family since the 1930s:

The place is the tiny settlement of Trowan, less than a mile from St Ives. It traces its roots to the Iron Age, and was said to have been a bustling village in Victorian days, home to miners from the Consul tin mine and farm labourers. It had its own manor house, blacksmith and its own parson. When the mine closed, villagers turned to dairy farming, bottling their milk for the surrounding villages. I’d never heard of Trowan, and nor had Bradby until he stumbled on it in summer 2003. “There aren’t even road signs to take you there,” he says. But D. H. Lawrence, who was living at nearby Zennor when he was writing Women in Love in 1916, certainly knew the place. He described it as “a tiny granite village nestling under high shaggy moor hills, and a big sweep of lovely sea, lovelier even than the Mediterranean”. That sweep takes in the South West Coast Path, Porthmeor Beach, and spectacular sea views out to the Godfrey lighthouse, which was made famous in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse....

The Berriman family bought Trowan for £2,100 at a sale in St Ives in 1930 and had farmed there ever since. It has been described as one of the oldest working landscapes in the world. “It dates back to when God was a boy,” says Bradby. Now the manor house, known as Trowan Veane, and 11 cottages are being restored by Mango using a team of local craftsmen.

TV antennas have been banned from the restored village -- well, not that anyone uses them anymore -- but, more intriguingly, so has the visible presence of cars. There will be a well-hidden car shed for the hamlet's drivers to park their nasty modern contraptions in. I'm sure Le Corbusier would be horrified.

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