Monday, 27 April 2015

W is for War in Cornwall and Holy Wells …




War in Cornwall never really ceased until recent times, despite the west being out on a limb .. the Phoenicians and the Spanish … all used the English Channel approach – with Cornwall as a first line of attack …

 
Perranporth Airfield - where Bob Scotney trained in the
1950s ... and my step-grandfather helped change it into a
small airfield with a gliding club attached - where in
the 1960s I learnt to glide

Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Britain, from 519 AD until the emergence of a unified English state during the early 10th century.  We know that the Cornish were an obstreperous peoples … which the Saxon chiefs tried to drive out of Cornwall ... failing, as did the Romans before them, and William the Conqueror afterwards (1066 and all that) … let sleeping dogs lie and let them (to a point) administer themselves.

Thomas Hardy's Wessex



Spanish invaders ransacked the villages and coastline as they tried to conquer further inland during Tudor times (1485 – 1603) … inevitably the Cornish were along the seafaring route.




Henrv VII started building bigger ships – the navy came into existence; Henry VIII built his Device forts of which there are a few in Cornwall:  on the Fal estuary: Pendennis Castle and St Mawes Castle; at Fowey -  St Catherines Castle.


 
St Catherine's Castle, Fowey:
a small Device fort
While in 1595, in Elizabeth I’s reign, the Battle of Cornwall took place – a Spanish naval fleet attacked Penzance, Mousehole, Paul and Newlyn … causing extensive damage.




Cornwall was a Royalist enclave in the generally Parliamentarian south-west during the Civil War (1642 – 1651).  A number of battles took place … with the royalists losing out … these were on land and at sea.


At the end of the 1700s existing coastal fortifications were re-armed due to the threat of a French invasion before the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815).


Showing the west of Cornwall .. Falmouth Harbour,
Lizard Point, Penzance (Mount's Bay), Perranporth is
north-east up the coast form St Ives
 During the First World War German U-boats patrolled the English Channel sinking many merchant vessels and Royal Naval warships.  A major airship station, RNAS Mullion, was constructed on the Bonython Estate on the Lizard peninsula.


c/o Bonython Manor's site


Garden Lovers, Poldark Lovers … this link takes you to Bonython Manor’s website … showing the gardens, and the sites of Poldark- locations …




Soldiers were quartered at Porthwrinkle – a small fishing village south east of Saltash (opposite Plymouth) – for training to fight in the trenches.


Penzance Harbour resumed the role it had played in the Napoleonic period as a naval base.  Falmouth (deep water) Harbour became a drifter base and towards the end of the War a centre for ship repairs.


Newlyn Harbour, looking across to Penzance in
Mount's Bay
Cornwall played a major role in World War Two as it was at risk from air and sea … thousands of bombs fell, and there were even airborne landings of enemy troops.  Ports were heavily defended, beaches protected by minefields, barbed wire, pillboxes and gun emplacements. 


Military airfields were constructed … aircraft defended against enemy raiders, protected convoys of merchant shipping and engaged German U-boats. 


 
"For the Fallen" Memorial
poem by Laurence Binyon ... it is
believed he wrote these words while
staying in Polzeath
D-Day and the Normandy Landings in 1944 … Cornwall played a major role in providing accommodation for the mass of American troops taking part in the landings.  Troops were housed in bell tents forming temporary camps.



Further research is being made into the history of those stationed in Cornwall … memorials being erected, stories being told, friends and relatives being traced … the Cornish guard their history closely … all through time castles, forts and batteries have defended Cornwall from the land, the sea and the air.

Dupath Well


To change the subject dramatically … Holy Wells, also known as Cloutie wells, are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas.



They are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual.

Madron Well - my mother lived in
this village for a while; the spring
was Penzance's only supply of water
til the 1700s

Prayers of supplication are said to the spirit of the well ... in modern times usually a saint, but in pre-Christian times a goddess or local nature spirit … by or on behalf of those seeking healing or to honour the spirit of the well.



May flowers
Sacred trees found at wells are usually Whitethorn (May), though Ash trees are also common … the rags all tapestried about …



I’m sure I have more information here … but as yesterday was V day and I’m still writing W (which I forgot about completely – my alphabet has 25 letters!!), X, Y and Z … all decided upon – I just need to W for write and am not going to research more on Holy Wells.


War in Cornwall gave me most of my thoughts on War … and I thankthem …



That is W for watery Wells, Wars in Cornwall – Where hasn’t there been a War ... from Aspects of British Cornish …


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

50 comments:

Rhonda Albom said...

Wow, is it possible that I am the first comment today. Cornwall certainly has a sorted history, and I think this is the first time I remember reading about Henry VII. Thanks for sharing what must have been an enormous amount of research, as always.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Love Holy Wells, once collected water from the one at Duloe, near Polperro, took it to use at baptisms :0)

mail4rosey said...

You could be a history teacher. You make the learning easy and fun. :) Have a great Monday! :)

Anabel Marsh said...

We visited Madron Well last year and the little chapel behind it. Lovely!
Anabel's Travel Blog
Adventures of a retired librarian

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Considering its position, it does make sense that Cornwall has had so many battles. But sort of sad!

Manzanita said...

That's a lot of years of war for Cornwall. I suppose it's as they say about real estate.... location, location, location. Yesterday I got hooked into an old Maureen OHara movie of beautiful sailing ships, harbors, swashbuckling pirates and of course romance. When i read your descriptive post, it brought back some scnes from the movie.

A glider pilot. WOW that must be some thrilling moments of silence. Machines are usually so noisey but to glide through the air like the birds must be a thrilling experience.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Wow! tying rags/threads around trees (and other things) with a prayer/wish is common in my country too...didn't know that about the Cornish..and obstreperous made me smile :)

Out on the prairie said...

Hopefully a peaceful land for some time. The rags are and interesting aspect.

Sunday Visitor said...

I remember reading a bit about Cornwall while looking up on World War 2, this post added a lot to my little knowledge. Great job!!!

Vanessa Morgan said...

I would love to have a stroll near that harbour. And I always learn something new here.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda – I know when I get somewhere first I’m always surprised. Most of Royal history took place in and around the rest of England, which were what was left after Henry VII’s predecessors had lost their French lands … and Henry wasn’t a war-monger – he built up England’s exchequers …

@ Carole-Anne – thanks .. I’d intended to include Duloe – but as with all things .. I had to stop. What a sensible thing to do for your family baptisms …

@ Rosey – so pleased you find the reads with the details relatively easy to comprehend – appreciate that!

@ Anabel – gosh and I never visited .. better look next time I’m down … that’s very remiss of me.

@ Elizabeth – yes a lot of them were skirmishes … but the county is the first line of attack or defence … and it’s a long way to the county border.

@ Manzanita – well England, Wales and Scotland had plenty more wars … what fun to see the Maureen O’Hara movie .. and yes S for smuggling would bring those memories back to life …

Yes I did as a kid – I never kept it up .. but used to love gliding … and it is so quiet up there … swishing through the air …

@ Nila – do you in your country ask for spiritual help at shrines or special trees … it seems to be a Celtic tradition …

Obstreperous .. I thought was a good word to use!! Glad it made you smile …

@ OOTP – it’s a peaceful nation now – I’m pleased to say! The Cloutie Wells are from time immemorial … supplications in ancient times were a necessary aspect …

@ Sunday Visitor – I’m glad I added to your knowledge ... there were a lot of Americans in Cornwall for a short period before the D Day and Normandy landings …

@ Vanessa – thanks .. we used to look out over that harbour for all the 20 years my mother lived in Newlyn … it’s beautiful and very Cornish …

Thanks everyone ... lovely having your varied comments – cheers Hilary

Jo said...

One doesn't think of Cornwall as being so involved in war through the centuries. I guess they really took a pounding in WWII. All the counties along the channel did I suppose. Matt lived in Kent during the war and remembers the dog fights in the sky as well as the build up of arms for D Day. Most of them being camouflaged of course.

Susan Scott said...

We got down to Plettenberg Bay last evening Hilary, and I asked my son at breakfast this morning at The Deck if he would come with me to Cornwall in Sept this year - he may well. More and more I want to come, and drink splash in the wells and more - thank you.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I never realised the Spanish attacked Cornwall. I was at primary school in Plymouth, so I learned all about the Armada aiming for Plymouth. The Cornwall angle passed me by!

Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

Christine Rains said...

What an amazing history at Cornwall. It's definitely a place I want to visit one day if I ever get to hop across the pond!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

The healing ritual is interesting.

Mark Koopmans said...

I never knew you were a glider :)

Have you ever posted on that very interesting (I'm sure!!) story :)

Glad that Cornwall was able to (mostly) stick up for itself throughout the ages!!

Bob Scotney said...

I don't remember the airport at Perranporth at all. We, National Service boys, were in charge of a TA camp.
I am very familiar with St Catherine.s Castle at Fowey having climbed up to it many times from the beach at Readymoney cove.

Guilie Castillo said...

Wow... what a history. The pre-Christian civilizations of the British Isles have always had special appeal for me, not sure why really, but I found this fascinating. Thanks, Hilary! And thanks also for your visits over at Quiet Laughter -- I'm struggling to finish the A-to-Z, falling behind, flailing a bit, but still hanging on ;)

D.G. Hudson said...

You knew how to 'glide'? I'm super impressed, Hilary. I had an uncle who was a pilot in the war, and he also did gliding at times. He loved it. (I always thought it would make me nervous. . .)
Love all that history information, Hilary. There are remnants of fortifications from WWII on a couple of our beaches here, too and on Vancouver Island, but nothing as old as in the UK.

cleemckenzie said...

Reading your posts makes me think that Cornwall has more history than the entire world combined. Fascinating. And they were so vulnerable from the sea--the Spanish, the French and then the Yanks. Seriously, I didn't know Cornwall housed our troops in preparation for Normandy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cornwall was a lot more involved in those wars than most realize. Its placement was both a good and bad thing.

Chrys Fey said...

It's sad that Cornwall had so much war. I had no idea the role Cornwall had in our history.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Cornwall seems like it has seen more than it's share. Here in the States, WWII didn't damage our mainland though invasions were feared. The stress of that time must be unimaginable.

Stephanie Bird said...

Yeah for the "obstreperous peoples" of Cornwall and thanks for being the wide-seeing storyteller of their history through your blog.

TexWisGirl said...

a beautiful area fought over too many times, i'm sure.

Paula Kaye said...

War at anytime and any place is horrible!

Joanne said...

war, war, war. Glad Cornwall survived well enough to now be so scenic and lovely. Final days and I've enjoyed the tour of Cornwall

Patsy said...

There have been a lot of wars involving our little country, haven't they? The only good that's ever come of them, as far as I can see, is castles. I do like a nice castle, even though I hate the reason they were needed.

Sara C. Snider said...

Obstreperous, such a great word. Seems like it was/is a good quality for the Cornish to have, seeing as they've been fighting off invaders since ancient times.

Those wells seem magical, would love to visit one.

Nick Wilford said...

Seems like Cornwall never really got a break from fighting. It's interesting to come across old coastal defences on cliffs and hilltops and think about what went on. Holy wells made a nice contrast.

Julie Flanders said...

In my mind I think of Cornwall as such a peaceful and serene place but clearly it was anything but throughout much of history. Of course when I was reading I realized it should have been obvious that it had been invaded so many times given its location. Love the holy wells!

Kern Windwraith said...

What a tale of war and woe. We really are quite the species, aren't we? You'd think at some point we'd learn from our various bloodied histories, but that never seems to happen.

Perhaps we need to spend more time at Cloutie wells making prayers of supplication for healing.

I always leave your posts knowing far more than when I started --thank you for all the work you put into these.

Bish Denham said...

It seems as though human history and the history of most any place, is mostly about war and conflict. Sigh... What would our history be like without that it?

The strips of cloth hanging from the trees reminds me of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags.

Jeffrey Scott said...

So much history, and yet so much wars and battles. You sometimes wish people would just learn to get along.

Stephen Tremp said...

That's a lot of military history. Love European history and the historical figures and battles and wars. The royal lives often mirrored that of Game of Thrones. Fascinating.

Sharon Marie Himsl said...

Hi Hilary! You did great doing 'W' last minute. I had to write mine on the fly late last night. Again, another interesting post and so much to think about with all of Cornish's war history. Did not know that Americans were there prior to Normandy invasion. Glad too Cornish wasn't completely destroyed and those old structures were spared. Loved too that you learned to glide in the 1960s. (Hubby and I live on a runway with his homebuilt RV8!)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jo - you're right ... and yes all the southern coast counties suffered and all the bit cities. I'd heard about the dog-fights being seen in the skies ...

@ Susan - that's excellent if your son will come over with you .. looking forward to hearing more about it anon.

@ Annalisa - it's funny isn't it how much suddenly makes sense with things we'd never thought about slotting into place.

@ Christine - I hope you and the family can get over here sometime and get down to Cornwall ..

@ Teresa - yes those Celtic origins of pagan - spiritual healing aspects do link together don't they ..

@ Mark - yes - years ago I used to glide. I haven't ever really - I touch on it occasionally ...

Cornwall's not an easy county to conquer .. as many have found out ..

@ Bob - I thought you'd said you were up at the airport at Perranporth ... so sorry .. I got it wrong ...

Readymoney Cove sounds a great name - and that castle walk would be a long climb up .. good views I imagine ...

@ Guilie - yes we have lots of history. And the pre-Christian civilisations in Cornwall would have been very interesting ... a mix of peoples even in those days ...

@ DG - yes I did for a few years .. and that was what got my step-grandfather into converting the old WW2 airfield into a gliding and light aircraft club ...

Delighted you're enjoying the history yes our fortification history goes back some way ... Interesting to know there were fortifications in Vancouver and on the Island re WW2 ... that surprises me somewhat.

@ Lee - I think we have a lot of history, but there's more elsewhere in the world .. though we seemingly had a great deal and a great mix of it here ...

Cornwall's always been attacked from the sea ... and yes there were a lot of Americans over during 2014 to remember 70 years after the War ended ... chasing relatives etc ...

@ Alex - yes history always surprises us ...

@ Chrys - I think all the counties or areas of the UK were involved in war someway or other ... even counties out on a limb, like Cornwall ...

@ Susan - we certainly saw some major skirmishes in the build up to the bigger picture further up the Channel ... any War would be so difficult for the locals as well as those taking sides ...

@ Stephanie - thanks .. glad you enjoyed the "obstreperous peoples" tag ... and I'm delighted in your description of being wide-seeing re the Cornish history and its aspects ...

@ Theresa - thanks ..

@ Paula - War is terrible, I agree ...

@ Joanne - we seem to have come through with many sad tales - but we thrive and it is beautiful ... so pleased you've enjoyed your visit ..

@ Patsy - you could say that again. Castles are good .. and like you I enjoy them too ... beautiful to look round and understand their periods in time ...

Cheers everyone .. thanks so much - it's great having all your comments and interaction .. Hilary


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - had to use that word "obstreperous" .. such fun. I think the Cornish are probably pretty stubborn too, set in their ways ... but love a good time ...

I hope you can get over to see Cornwall sometime and then one of the Holy Wells ...

@ Nick - if we think through the history that's occurred .. it'd be mind-blowing ... so much. Thanks - glad you appreciated the change in tone to the Holy Wells ...

@ Julie - I'm afraid the Cornish had to defend themselves, smuggle as much as possible, fight when necessary - they were open to attack from the sea in the early days. The Holy Wells are special ...

@ Kern - it seems like we humans don't ever learn ... one day we might. I think going back to Pagan roots and remembering our prayers of supplication ... might very well be an extremely good idea.

Thanks so much - I'm just glad you find the posts interesting ..

@ Bish - human history here and around the world tends to be about human conflict doesn't it ... such a pity. I'm sure we'd enjoy our history now - if we could get off the warring bandwagon ... sadly some don't enjoy history ...

You may well be right with the link - Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags - the peoples of the world have been walking this earth for many millennia ...

@ Jeffrey - the ridiculous thing is we do get along ... usually: I say that as I'm not so sure now ... with the War that's happening in the Middle East.

@ Stephen - I haven't see Games of Thrones or read the books etc ... so I'm lost ... but would believe there'd be a mirrored existence - fact v reality. Glad you enjoyed the military/European history I sort of promulgated here ..

@ Sharon - I knew what I wanted to do - just had to put it together ...

Well done on writing yours on the fly - there's a lot of war history here - I was somewhat surprised too ...

Somethings were built to last and Castles are one of them ... and not everything got hit .. I'm glad to say.

I saw your RV8- very smart ... and brilliant your hubby built his own - that I couldn't do!!

Cheers everyone - thanks so much .. it seems I've opened your eyes to a few things ... appreciate the comments - Hilary

Carole Anne Carr said...

Thought you might like to know, my little poetry book is free on Amazon as an ebook from 1st to 5th May.

Silvia Villalobos said...

So much blood and battle in the past, Hilary, and it still continues in parts of the world, always will, I suppose, though it's nice to think we'd tire of it at some point. Cornwall sure played a major role in history, and looking at the images, including the memorial, it just touches my heart with its breathtaking beauty on top of all the history.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's quite sad to think of Cornwall's history. So much to loose. I hope to see the place one day.

Clarabelle Rant said...

I've never heard of Holy Wells. They're beautiful. Cornwall should be covered with them due to all the conflicts that area has endured.

You can find me here:
ClarabelleRant

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

Sounds like Cornwall has taken quite a beating in it's time and stayed strong.
It is interesting how religions adopt the sacred places of those that went before. The conflict comes when those that went before don't want to leave.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Empty Nest Insider said...

I also didn't know that Cornwall played such a significant role in the war effort. Glad you made room for the holy wells too, Hilary!

Julie

Jean Davis said...

So much war in one place. My goodness. I'm glad there is also a place of healing.

samantha mozart said...

Obstreperous, indeed. Have Cornwall and Britain never had to protect and defend themselves? No wonder Britain has the best intelligence in the world.

You learned gliding, Hilary?! How wonderful. I've flown airplanes, twice. When you can glide you really know how to fly.

Samantha Mozart
http://thescheherazadechronicles.org

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Carole Anne - thanks I picked it up and still need to read it!

@ Silvia - I'm afraid War is still far too prevalent. We've tired of it .. but have others ... humanity needs to tire of it - and that for now looks unlikely.

The Binyon memorial plaque is in a spectacular position ... with a remoteness war deployment can bring ... I'm glad I posted it here.

@ Joylene - I hope you can get to Cornwall sometime ... it does change, life always does ... but the history remains and is recorded and preserved thankfully ...

@ Clarabelle - the Holy Wells started back in the pagan days - Bronze Age, Neolithic age (Stone Age) ... and as history and time evolves these things get swept up into the next wave of rituals that come along ... Christianity for us ... but they provided solace for many over the centuries ...

@ Tasha - it's a difficult county to overrun ... so has always been able to stay relatively unencumbered by others and their ways. Yes - I find the transitions with rituals etc fascinating ... that Christianity absorbed and adopted early pagan traditions, as well as Roman ones ...

@ Julie - we're part of Britain and can't avoid any conflict that comes our way ... from Europe perhaps - but by sea or air .. Cornwall is en route.

@ Jean - I don't think we were any different to other counties ... war occurs everywhere sadly, if it affects the rulers. Yes I imagine the churches, chapels etc and the Holy Wells helped many ..

@ Samantha - obstreperous came to mind and stuck! We've never been left alone ... even the Channel didn't deter all-comers even in the earliest of days ... I hope our intelligence is very good - I imagine it is ... our diplomacy is pretty good too.

Yes decades ago I used to glide - almost taking it up seriously ... but it never reached that stage. How fantastic you've had the opportunity to fly aeroplanes ... I've done a little of that - but not as a sole pilot as in my gliding days. It's a wonderful sport ...

Cheers and thanks so much to you all - lovely having your comments and interest ... Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

Strips of cloth or rags tied to the branches ... lovely symbolic touch...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - the myths and legends about the Holy Wells are very ancient in origin - and at least started in pagan times ... cheers Hilary