Saturday, 6 March 2021

Treasure those Memories … part 3 … 1950s, Knill's Steeple, blackberry picking with snakes ...

 

We stay on the cliffs above Carbis Bay … which used to always be over-run with the natural wayside wild plants … bramble, gorse, nettles … small trees that could withstand the sea-winds …

 

Penwith peninsula: St Ives - Carbis Bay - Hayle

 

The cliff in the 1950s was not developed – there was the odd house dotted in amongst the scrub, where there was a bit of flat land – but otherwise zero housing amongst the landscape! 

 

Carbis Bay - 1920s

 

Oh yes – the railway line into St Ives skirting along the cliff side – where blasting in the 1870s could give the workmen a place to lay sleepers giving us that early railway line.

 

 

Knill's Steeple - being repaired

From Carbis Bay we definitely couldn’t see my next remembrance … I think I was probably 6 ½ or so … Knill’s Steeple set high on the hill above St Ives was not visible, but apparently today visible to those walkers along the South West Coastal Path – which has been ‘made safe’ for the 21st century …

 

 

Knill's Steeple by Alfred Wallis
(a naive artist/seaman) (1855 - 1942)

Knill’s Steeple or obelisk has a memory for me that doesn’t disappear … at one stage we had a baby-sitter … my young brother of 3 ½ and I  … when there must have been an outbreak of whooping cough back at home in Surrey … and as my baby brother was there: we were removed to Cornwall! 

 

Sharp triangular corner of
Monument (c/o Chadburn
Conservation Architects)

After the bus ride, the three of us walked/were pushed up to the Monument to walk around the base pedestal of the triangular monument, also to pick blackberries … growing in between the gorse, ferns, straggler vines … lichen covered granite boulders …

 

 



A small Hilary-sized basket was handed out … and off we went to find ‘a path’ through to the blackberries … it was a hot sunny afternoon … I was a happy little girl – probably eating as many as I picked, but so what …

 

 

Carbis Bay - showing South West Coastal
Path as it is today

My little brother was off my hands … he could struggle around … all was well – kids' content, young ‘au-pair’ in control …

 

 

… I was very happy stretching and reaching for the berries – feet firmly attached to the ground … BUT SOMETHING WAS UNWINDING UNDER MY LITTLE FEET!!!!   Boy did I scream … all hell let loose … and I was off to the bus stop …

 

Porthminster Beach, St Ives in the background



 

Poor young au-pair had to gather up one brother, all the bits and pieces and chase after me … she was panicking behind me – but I managed to stop by the time I got to the road – and we caught the bus back … must have given her the heebie-jeebies!

 

 

I suspect it was an adder, or with luck a grass-snake, which also had an interrupted sunny afternoon!  My father used to bring grass-snakes in from the compost heap to show us, put their eggs to hatch in pots perched high up on some shelves near the back door at home!  

 

The story of John Payne
can be found in Wiki
- seriously foul!
(Memorial 1649-1949)


I really haven’t liked snakes ever since … so that memory unwinding beneath my tiny, little, very petite soles - sticks for ever with me!

 

 



Back to Mr Knill (1733 – 1811) – he was a slightly eccentric mayor of St Ives, and Collector of Customs – he built this memorial … a 15 metre (49 foot) high granite obelisk – now known as Knill’s Steeple.

 

John Knill by John Opie
(c 1770s)

 

The monument is a triangular granite obelisk on a site 545 feet (166 metres) above sea-level – and from this height is master of all it surveys – the district, the coast-lines for many miles … particularly over St Ives bay …

 



 

St Ives Fishing Fleet by
H I Babbage (1875-1916)

… where in the 1700s lookouts (Huers) would be up at Knill’s Steeple – ready to shout through a speaking trumpet, wave kerchiefs – when they saw shoals of sardines coming into the bay … the fishermen would immediately set forth for their catch …



Photochrom of St Ives (1895)

 

The obelisk has a vault … but when he died in London he’d changed his mind … so Johannes Knill is buried in Holborn, London.


 

However to ensure he lived on in St Ives … he left £25 for a curious quinquennial ceremony on St James Day, July 25th … to be spent thus:

 

£10 for a Trustees’ dinner … the Mayor, Vicar, and Customs Officer, and two guests to be held at the George and Dragon Inn, Market Place, St Ives … demolished in 1887 …

£5 for ten young girls, daughters of fishermen, tinners, or seamen, dressed in white …

£2 to two widows to accompany the young girls …

£1 for a fiddler …

£5 to the family who shall raise the greatest family of legitimate children, who have reached the age of ten years …

£1 of white ribbon for Breast-Knots (18th C ornamental bows) …

£1 to be set aside for a vellum book for the Clerk to the Trustees to record the proceedings …

 

… then all to walk in procession from the Market House in St Ives town up to the Monument, round which they shall dance while singing the Hundredth Psalm.

 

Anne Hogarth - Wm Hogarth's
sister: "Lady in Rose" c 1770
with her Breast Knot bow
If it was intended as an occasion of solemnity, the testator’s wishes have proved vain!  It has become a holiday … marked by much merriment … which attracts numerous visitors and locals.  The next ceremony will take place this year on 25 July.

 

We did continue to go to Knill’s Steeple – a good walk as well as beautiful views, with that triangular plinth to run around … but jolly difficult to negotiate – even as a smallie – i.e. under 10 – I used to love negotiating the corner triangulation …


Well – that’s another Memory from the Treasury … strange but true …

This has got rather long … so apologies …

18th Century Notebook - where I found the 'breast-knots' ... 

Chadburn Conservation Architects - details re refurbishment of Knill's Steeple - with a video, some interesting photos ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

42 comments:

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating post,as always, Hils.
An adder???? Shudder. Right there with ya. I appreciate most creatures...snakes, not so much.
YOU have a grand weekend.

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Lovely to read your accounts of journeys, happenings, to you and family, and so wonderfully illustrated, again.
Carole 🌹

Natalie Aguirre said...

Loved hearing about your memories. Knills Steeple looks so interesting. I could see it being a setting for a story.

Inger said...

Your posts can never be too long. I love the way you wove in the history of this place with your own childhood memories. I have felt so uninspired, as Aretha sang back in the day, about what to do with my blog. Maybe I could start from the beginning with my memories. And weave in a bit of history of the Stockholm archipelago, Stockholm's first suburb, where I grew up and so on. My dad was an avid photographer and I was their fist child, so plenty of pictures to be had. And this, of course, would be my sincerest compliment to you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra – many thanks … yes – adders are the only poisonous snake we have here – and Cornwall’s undergrowth is perfect for them.

@ Carole – thanks for coming by … and so glad you’re enjoying the ‘funny’ posts I write – thank you … and I love putting the illustrations up … takes time, but is worth it.

@Natalie – lovely to see you … Knill’s Steeple is so Cornish … and if they cleared the land it probably would make a great setting – the gorse is challenging!

@ Inger – you are a star … and yes it’d be lovely to read snippets about Stockholm and those early days with the history added in – especially if you’ve got your Dad’s stories to draw on …
… and fabulous compliment from you … if I inspire you that’s great … also it’ll give you a goal and help give you something to concentrate on … I hope you do!

Thanks to you four – lovely seeing you and reading your comments … stay safe - Hilary

Elephant's Child said...

Blackberry picking and snakes are firmly entwined in my memories too. Red-bellied black snakes often frequented the same berry bushes as we did. And I am not good with snakes. At all.
The detailed instructions Mr Knill left are very odd - but no doubt meant a lot to him. It can't have been easy for poorer families to find 'white' dresses for their daughters...
Thanks for yet another fascinating post.

Terra said...

I enjoyed this post with a bit of history. Happily no harm done by the snake, and even the snake lived to tell the tale. Interesting man who built the monument and his odd list of celebration items.

Liz A. said...

A snake would have freaked me out, too. What a memory.

Anabel Marsh said...

I’d have high-tailed it too! Interesting reading about the bequest.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
OH, the joys and innocence of our young years! Interesting how similar experiences can leave such differing impressions - meeting an adder in the Scottish heather, I was snatched away by my father so quick I didn't get to properly acquaint - and I have longed to meet another since! (I did have meetings with red-bellied black snakes, copperheads and pythons and mambas though...) YAM xx

Jz said...

Yeah, snakes make me squeal like a little girl, too.
No bad memories, just on general "creepy thing" principles...

Joanne said...

You covered a lot of territory here and I was really good with the little Hilary basket for blackberries. Then OMG - heebie jeebies over the snake. I think I lost my mind on that and couldn't concentrate on the rest of the post. Glad there's a holiday for a man... hmm. Still thinking about the snake.
Hope I can sleep tonight.

As always - a fun (?!) Good read. Keep sharing and I'll keep reading.

Hels said...

I too remember the awful outbreak of whooping cough when I was just starting primary school. It was the long whooping spells that remained in my memory over the decades, and I also remember my parents' relief when the first injections started in 1953.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – thank you … I’m glad mine was only an adder or a grass snake … but red-bellied black snakes – definitely not. Glad you enjoyed it …
Mr Knill was an eccentric to say the least … and at that time the world was changing a great deal … ability to move around and promote things …St Ives was starting ‘to thrive’ … but I agree finding white dresses must have been very difficult for families from the fishing settlement …

@ Terra – thanks – no I’ve never been bitten by one – I’m very glad to say. Knill deserves to remembered as a man of his time …

@ Liz – yes, sadly they still do … but I so admire evolution as far as life is concerned … allowing snakes to evolve so interesting …

@ Anabel – thank you … I still move backwards when I come across a snake – not often I’m pleased to say. John Knill set the bequest high … but it’s survived the test of time … the 210th year … of quinquennial commemorations …

@ Yam – oh yes … the freedom of innocence without any worries; while Scottish heather will nurture many of our special creatures, which are essential to our life in general …
Snakes are incredible aren’t they … I wrote a post ‘Bare Bones’ in 2014 … it was such an interesting write-up: about how snakes evolved …

@ Jz – yes … snakes seem to evoke an unfortunate feeling for most of us. As you say … creepy things … I did feed my parents worms from a cowpat when I was ‘a tiny’?!

@ Joanne – it was ‘a troublesome post’ how much to put in … and there was more – omitted for the moment …
Sorry about the snake and resulting heebie-jeebies. I’ll have to keep an eye open for the commemoration later this year. Hope you were able to sleep – I feel you probably did!
That’s great … I’ll be writing more … so happy to know I have at least one reader!!

@ Hels – I don’t really remember whooping cough – we must have got off lightly – I more remember the polio outbreak … but again I only remember the BCG vaccination later in life …
I can believe we live much easier lives with the introduction of medical inventions and roll-outs.

Thanks so much to you all for visiting and being interested … and for noting the various subjects that arose from the post … stay safe – we have some sunny weather today – life is so much easier, when the weather is better and lighter! All the best - Hilary

Dan said...

I would have been off in a hurry, too. Thanks for sharing this memory. I enjoyed it. Of course, now I have the silly story about the man who was walking to St. Ives stuck in my head. The details of the celebration are interesting. Seems like he got a lot for his money.

Rhodesia said...

Interesting reading as always but standing on a snake is not the best way of finding them. I am quite fond of snakes but then I have never stood on one! A friend who was in Botswana walking through the bush with a couple of people was horrified when one of the two stood on a pair of mating mambas, he never even made it to the hospital!!!! Take care and watch where you walk, Diane

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Your Exalted Hilaryness: You personalized histories are always fascinating and entertaining. As far as I can recall (and I am sure I would) I have never had this kind of close encounter with a snake, even a harmless one, let alone a poisonous species. But I have picked berries aplenty and like all youngsters ate until I almost gave myself bellyache. Even to this day, if I pick berries I can't resist eating them too. I have actually had people express shock that I would eat them unwashed! Wonder what kind of sterile childhood they had? Knill had great plans for his £25 didn't he? It wouldn't get him far today! Bring on the next installment. I'm ready!

Mason Canyon said...

Fascinating and intriguing memories. I don’t think I’d want to go berry picking again no matter what type of snake it could have been. Always enjoy learning such interesting things from your post. Thanks so much for sharing. Take care my friend.

Jacqui Murray said...

Such interesting bits and pieces. The babysitter and your snake experience--yikes! No wonder I never let babysitters take my kids anywhere. The stone monument--it looks rough and filled with history. I want to touch it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Dan – I wrote about the man with seven wives … in my Cornish A-Z post in April 2015 (R is for Rhythm and Rhyme) and some other rhymes relative to Cornwall.
I think £25 back then would be worth ‘a fortune’ and presumably today – worth a fair bit … but enough to comply with his ‘demands’ …

@ Diane – yes … I do remember it. I really admire snakes as I wrote about in my other post … see my reply to Yam above.
I was ‘lucky’ in Africa I did see a number of snakes – but never a Mamba – oh dear poor chap – well at least he didn’t have time to suffer. In England … only adders in particular areas … while the rest aren’t poisonous …

@ David – thank you so much … just delighted with ‘the accolade’. Some encounters to remember back on are funny and lucky – others just memorable and this is one … snakes and I …
Oh yes belly ache too … my parents always worried about the amount of fruit we ate in and around our home garden … just very fortunate to have it on hand as a real childhood benefit. I won’t eat berries near roads … but the rest – exactly how have people been brought up … we needed some mulch and dirt to get the system ‘innoculated’ for a long life …
Knill was pretty amazing he really pushed his life to the boundaries and no doubt helped us in many ways … he was a lawyer in London and left his body to surgeons …

@ Mason – thank you … it was fine as I was very small … and had better eyes for anything likely to be dodgy in future years. Just delighted you’re here and happy to read …

@ Jacqui – thank you – the poor baby-sitter: I’m sure she was worse off … my grandparents I’m sure were helping out a local friend’s child/grandchild with some extra pocket money … we never had baby-sitters otherwise.
Knill’s steeple is lovely – but that sharp triangulation is sharp and there’s not much space on the plinth … but granite is a special surface, especially with well-aged lichen …

Thanks so much to you all – so pleased you’re able to enjoy these odd bits of my past and history that springs from the posts … have a good week - Hilary

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Hilary, I have always disliked snakes. We camp with five kids, and I was always fearful that we'd disturb a snake we didn't realize was there and he'd strike one of my children.

As always, I love all the history and your photos. Amazing how built up the shoreline becomes, isn't it? The United States coastlines are the same way. All best to you!

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

What lovely memories

Chrys Fey said...

Such a sweet memory until that snake had wiggle in. lol

D.G. Kaye said...

Now I need to know about the snake eggs that grew in the pots? Wonderful to look back Hilary. xx

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

So much history in your country. Thank you for sharing the stories of times gone by and how those same places are today.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Awesome memories!
Blackberries are so good.
Snakes and I don't have the best relationship, either.

I'm getting ready for the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. And hoping to honor the wonderful women in my life on March 8 for International Women's Day.

J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

retirementreflections said...

Brilliant memories and wonderful images. Thank you for sharing this with us, Hilary.
BTW _ I am totally with you regarding snakes!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Wonderful memories, and beautifully written, as always. A snake moving under my foot would scare me, too! I used to put cookie tins out in the backyard to see if the little snakes would curl up under them. Sometimes they would, probably to get out of the dew (I lived in Oregon at the time, which was quite damp). I loved them, but they scared me to death, so I'd look, find one, and run inside screaming.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Victoria – I can understand your anxieties with your camping trips: glad nothing happened. Thank you re the appreciation of learning about the history … and yes so much housing development throughout the world …

@ Jo-Anne – thank you …

@ Chrys – yes it was lovely up there … the warm earth and sun bearing down … while that snake: poor thing … but I was little!

@ Debby – oh the babies were put back into the compost heap – once hatched! Safe, but ready for more growth!

@ Susan – yes there is lots of history here … and so much recorded and accessible – those early days must have been terrible at times …

@ J Lenni – thank you … blackberries are delicious …

@ Donna – many thanks – just happy you enjoy them … and snakes seem to worry many …

@ Shannon – thanks so much … oh your memories of snakes is fascinating – I’ve seen large corrugated tin sheets put down on heathland to ‘spot and record’ adders in Dorset … as kids we are curious aren’t we … love that Oregon snippet …

Thanks so much for your visits and comments – lovely to have your snippets of memories too: thank you. Have a good week ahead. Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

No need to apologise for its length, I'd have happily read more! Lovely memories Hilary about a childhood in a wonderful place.

Annalisa Crawford said...

My dad did a similar thing with grass snakes - bringing them into the house to show them off. I was never a fan!

Great history. I know very little about west Cornwall.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like snakes but almost stepping on one would give me a jolt, too.

SpacerGuy said...

Fascinating. Lucky you saw snakes when reaching for blackberries. You might have saved someone from getting snake bitten.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Fresh blackberries, yum!

I don't mind snakes...but I sure wouldn't want to step on one! That could be deadly in the Southern US. :)

Fil said...

Great memories Hilary and very interesting notes about the memorial and Mr Knill lol. And oh my gosh the snake - no wonder you don't like them , sends a shiver through me. Happy to say I've never seen one in the wild and really cannot understand people who keep them as pets - weird and wonderful people:)

Janie Junebug said...

Interesting about the money for the dinner. Something unwinding under your feet!!! I do not like snakes.

Love,
Janie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith – thanks, good to know you can relate to the memories … west Cornwall is a delightful place … I so agree …

@ Annalisa – oh did your father do similar … I guess they were more attuned to nature than that next generation …
But delighted to know you’re happy reading to learn a little more about the Penwith part of the world …

@ Diane – they are amazing creatures … incredibly evolved … but I do like to know where they are and so avoid them …

@ Spacer Guy – thank you, but that was the problem I didn’t see the snake … I just 6 ½ happily stepped out into the scrub to reach up for better blackberries … so the snake decided enough was enough, even though I can’t have weighed much … and also back in the day mid 1950s … there weren’t many people around … a memory that hangs around …

@ Elizabeth – fresh blackberries … yummy, as you say. I’m glad you’re another who doesn’t mind snakes – and yes I know your USA snakes are distinctly questionable … ours are benign, only the adder being ‘fairly’ poisonous …

@ Fil – thank you … and yes Mr Knill was a man of substance – it’s interesting the commemoration is still going on – quirky history. No … I definitely am not a fan of snakes of whatever size. But seeing them in a run in someone’s flat – which I did down here … really made me unsettled; then that one last year that was released along the Promenade … not funny!

@ Janie – yes Knill’s history is interesting … while the snakes I can give a miss to …

Thanks for visiting everyone – so pleased to see you here … all the best - Hilary

Deborah Weber said...

Love these precious memories Hilary. I haven't really had that many encounters with snakes, but I tell you the idea of eggs deliberately placed near a door definitely freaks me out. Fascinating facts about Knill and I love the Wallis representation.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Deborah - I'm glad to say I haven't had many either ... I've tried to appreciate them. Those hatchlings were immediately put outside ... and couldn't have got out of the pot - later on I worked that one out.

Knills' Steeple is part of St Ives history and worth knowing about. I'm really appreciating Wallis' art work ... more and more! Going to see some at the local gallery, when we can have meetings again ... all the best - Hilary

DMS said...

You really paint a picture! I can imagine the scenes so well. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. The list of "must haves" for the ceremony is fascinating! :)
~Jess

bazza said...

What a lovely memory to have (even with the snake!). I really don't know that part of the world well enough. Something to be rectified. My Grandson has just been accepted to study for a degree at Falmouth so I envisage a trip down there next year!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s hopelessly habit-forming Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - thank you ... I can remember the feeling that's for sure! So pleased you appreciated Knill's requirement for his quinquennial celebration ... and it's still going - shows he was on to something!

@ Bazza - thank you ... but what fun - you'll be able to visit your grandson and see that part of the world - it's so beautiful and so interesting - you'll love it with your artistic bent ...

Thanks the two of you ... so pleased you can get an understanding the my times down there ... all the best - Hilary