14 July 2007


Tywardreath, taken from one of the the next farm's fields looking down onto the village.

You can blame Dickiebo for this post as his latest blog subject got me thinking & remembering about things. I was in two minds as to whether to blog what I'm about to because on the very minute chance that anyone I know is reading this they would know who I am in a millisecond, that isn't a bad thing but it's nice to have somewhere to write things anonymously with nobody knowing who you are but I got the urge to write this so I shall take my chances.
Eleven years ago we lived in the Southern part of Cornwall in a small, fairly rural village called Tywardreath (pronounced Tire dreth) the link will tell you all about the village & really is worth a look if you are interested to see the history of it, including witches, legends, village buildings & people of note & the accompanying pictures, some of which date back to the early 1900's . The house we lived in was known as The Old Priory locally but more commonly known as New House farm of It's not easy being green fame & the basis for Daphne Du Maurier's novel, the house on the strand. We moved out of the farm 4/5ish years ago due to a last ditch attempt at a failed marriage & parents subsequent divorce & I think it's had 2/3 owners since, the above being the latest.

The Gribben, which is supposed to be haunted by the spirits of smugglers & those that came to grief on the hills & cliffs of it. You can just about see the lighthouse if you look very closely. It was one of the main drop off points for smugglers on the Cornish coast & it does have a very eerie feel, especially when it's a day as shown above with all the sea mist blowing in & heavy overcast skies, it's one of the places I've had grief with my horse & her spooking unnecessarily & one place I would make sure I never was from dusk onwards. Taken from Spit Point.

The village itself is mentioned in the Exeter Domesday Book of A.D 1085. The priory itself dates back to doomsday & was built as a retreat for the monks of the nearby St. Andrews church, the church was literally more or less above us, 2 minutes walk from the front door & you would be at the church door, this wasn't popular with any of us at first due to the church bells going off every hour on the hour but we got used to them & when I moved, I missed them, I couldn't sleep & it took me a good month or so to get used to the lack of chiming!

St. Andrews church, taken from the boundary of what was one of our paddocks by the looks of things.

The nearby village of Treesmill with the main road leading into Tywardreath.

The actual house was set in 8 acres of land which meant we had animals ranging from Indian runner ducks to pot bellied pigs, chickens, kittens, a St Bernard dog, cats, fish, pet rats & horses plus a few others, a true menagerie that all 6 of us children were expected to look after & muck in as well as out! Wildlife consisted of a family of barn owls & numerous bats that would nest in the beams & roof of the barns & stables along with elvers that we would get in the stream. Lots of things I can remember happening with the animals, one April fools day my younger brother, at 12, thought it would be hilarious to take all 3 horses & 2 Shetlands up through the village at 6 in the morning & deposit them in the local primary school's playing field, I nearly dropped down dead when I found an empty field, luckily he owned up before I called the police to report them missing/stolen but it earned him a week of being grounded for being silly as they could have got out onto the local lanes....

Part of the farm's boundary marked in red (unfortunately I can't find a picture of the house or ground apart from on Google maps which I can't paste onto here. If you type in Priory Lane, Cornwall on the satellite option of Google maps it will show you the lane leading down to the farm & the land surrounding it, unfortunately I don't have Alice's talent for describing buildings *wistful sigh*)

I remember piglets that the mother had rejected & hand rearing them, keeping them in a box by the aga & feeding them milk with droppers & for those not in the know, the saying 'squealed like a pig' is true, unless you've heard it you can't begin to imagine!
In the summer we used to graze the Shetlands in the back garden because of the lush grass, it was about an acre & a half & obviously the patio doors opened onto it, one weekend afternoon somebody had forgotten to close them properly & I walked in to find 2 shetland ponies flat out in the best living room, stretched out on the floor asleep, literally flat out on their sides dead to the world. I grabbed my sister to help shoo them out before they got spotted by my mum! Lol
Another time my horse, who is about 14hh got into the house through the same doors at 3 in the morning & ended up in the kitchen where she proceeded to make a mess of the veg rack, knock all the cereal onto the floor & attempt to climb the stairs, we knew that because she'd left 2 hoofprints on the first 2 steps before backing out (luckily!) my mum found her because she thought we had burglars & went downstairs armed with a baseball bat only to come face to face with my horse polishing off the last of the bread which had been left on the work top. After that the doors were triple checked to make sure they were locked!

The bus stop, with buses running approximately every hour, or two depending on the day.

We had fresh eggs, both duck & chicken constantly, a scrumpy business which did amazingly well & that was the cause of a few of my less sober moments. We all used to muck in & make it, from my little sister who was 3 at the time (she used to help sort the bad apples from the good) right up to me & my parents, it would take 18 months to 2 years to be ready to sell at it's best, it was all done by hand & press by about 12 people so it was a true small farm business & grew a popular reputation locally & further up country. I remember getting up & feeding the horses before school & coming home & spending until darkness in the summer holidays out on the farm with them. Seeing the different animals being born & growing up & finding new owners, although a few we ended up keeping ourselves through much begging & pleading from us to our parents.

Polkerris, picture taken from one of the overlooking cliffs, one of the nearest beaches with a very handily placed tiny pub that overlooks it.

The age of the house meant we found a lot of interesting things & came across alot of interesting information. Redecorating was a nightmare due to it being grade II listed, some of the old walls were made from the wattle & horsehair, on one of the outside walls, where the mortar had fallen away & needed to be replaced there was an original deep inlaid hole, carved wood & big enough to get your whole hand into & more, I can't remember what relevance it held now but it was something to do with the original monks. We found an old tiled floor in part of the back garden & a freshwater spring in one of the paddocks, it was tested & shown to be spring water that the ground had filtered from most impurities. So fresh that the horses would refuse to drink from the stream that ran through that particular paddock & would drink from the spring instead.

Taken from what was our neighbour, the same farm as the village picture was taken from, looking up towards our paddock & you can just about see the house in the distance.

The land you can see was tidal until a 100/200 or so years ago. "The once natural harbour with tidal fingers searching inland, up almost to where they built the Priory at Tywardreath, to St Blazey, through the marshy land to Treesmill, up the Polmear valley as far as Lower Lampetho.

Until the end of the 18th century the bay and harbour must have been a wonderfully busy place, with fishing-boats and trading vessels tacking to and fro, seiners casting their nets in the creeks, the ferry being rowed back and forth from Little Par to the Sloop Inn on the Par shore.

The level of the bottom rose and the harbour which once had fifty or sixty feet of water at high tide became a drying waste of sand and shingle & is now a narrow strip of marshland at the foot of the hill & onto a very small part of the adjoining paddock. In 1773 the tide still reached St Blazey Church, and even up to 1800 high water reached one mile north of Par."

Above text shamelessly lifted from the website!

Polkerris beach & you can just about see the Rashleigh pub on the shore, again photo taken from Spit Point.

We had spirits (this is what made me start thinking about the whole thing) one was a child, you could hear giggles sometimes & the kind of shrieks children make when they are playing, one particular wet evening the front door slammed shut & small wet footprints were found through the hall, everyone could be accounted for at the time including my small sister. Things would get moved & you would see shadows disappear around corners, one was a grown man of a thin build & one was a man in a napoleonic hat, my brother went down to the kitchen one night & saw a man sitting at the table, he looked at my brother, got up & disappeared through the next wall. I used to feel movements at the foot of my bed & feel like eyes were on me for no particular reason & get 'chills', things would go missing in my room or be moved & the horses would refuse point blank to walk through or past certain areas, if you were riding them they would tense up & balk if you asked them to go forward, I tried one day thinking my horse was being silly & she walked backwards with her eyes wide & was chewing the bit, I put my leg on her strongly to go forward & she got to a certain point & planted her feet, tense & refusing to go any further, we never got any of them through that particular place. The door to the kitchen opened & closed once when I was sat doing homework, the nearby pile of books fell onto the floor as if they'd been pushed. The cats would hiss sometimes or tense up & the dog would bark for no reason. The weird thing is, none of us felt threatened or unsafe, just slightly unnerved sometimes. I have fond memories of happy times there, the last 3 years weren't so good & quite a few times before that things were unhappy there but for the most part it was idyllic & that made up for the bad times. I feel really lucky & blessed to have had that childhood, if I said it was like living the real life Darling Buds of May that would be the best way of describing it. It's also a different part to the place I was moaning about a few months ago, moans consisted of it's crime rate specifically, that area I don't miss one bit. This area I do.


dickiebo said...

Nice one GND. Like you, I was lucky enough to have a marvellous childhood. Much of it was spent with horses - which I love. We lived in a farmer's cottage, with his farm at the end of our road. It was something quite special to ride the massive (to us kids!) Shires, with just a halter, or ride the horse & cart. During summer, I would earn pocket-money by taking my father's friend's ponies onto the beach to give pony-rides. Great fun taking the ponies out to the field after work!!
I spent some time helping out at a riding-school, and ended up working (during hols & weekends, etc) at a thoroughbred stables. Magnificent animals.
I did, some time ago, train as a Medium, so am very envious of your having had your own resident Spirit People.
Nice blog mate.

Mark B said...


That is an exceptional post, I'm off to St Austell on Monday, my first holiday in six months. I work in the smoke and it is a deserved break! I used to go there in the seventies with Mum and Dad. We would load up the Morris Minor (Dad always liked old cars) and go there from up North. It took hours. I went back last year for the first time in over twenty five years and stayed at the same B & B, the old beach (porthpean) we used to go to hasn't changed, The Hut selling ice cream was still there. I also cycled over to Newquay and watched the seals in the harbour and had a couple of pints of Newquay Steam bitter of course! I broke the train journey by stopping in Exeter mainly to see the Cathedral. Great stuff.

You seem very mature for your age. I don't think I could have written posts like this at your age.


Ing said...

Wow, interesting post, and what a beautiful part of the UK! :-)

Girl With The Golden Touch said...

Great post! It sounds lovely and I wish I lived somewhere like that...although without the spirit bit (no matter how unthreatening they were!!)I loved watching that programme too, It's not easy been green, and I fancied the son..hmmm, his name was James :D x

PC South West said...

Nice post GND! I am on my well earned break in a Cornish fishing village writing this comment so fully appreciate the tranquliity and low crime rate. Lucky to have laptop with mobile broadband.

Girl*Next*Door said...

Yes Dickiebo, horses were & still are the mainstay with me. My younger sister who is 16 is going into horseracing & is applying for a place at the British Racing School so I have my finger crossed for her :)
I don't know whether spirits are particularly attracted to me but there were alot of incidences then & have been since, slightly spooky at times!

Mark B, St. Austell is lovely, especially the Charlestown area & the places I pointed out. The coast around there is stunning.
Very little changes in Cornwall unless it has to, holidays I had there when I was younger, I can go there now & most of the faces are still there & 99% of the buildings are unchanged!
Enjoy your holiday, hope the weather holds out for you :)
That's the last two posts I've been told that now :) Mind you, if you saw me sometimes I can be very immature but I think we all need to be sometimes :)

Ing, it really is a beautiful area & if you get the chance to go it really is worth it. That is if you haven't already been!

Girl, it was lovely & like I said, very fond memories :)
As for James, you wouldn't be so keen if he turned out like his father, complete with bushy moustache..... Hahahaha
I agree though, he is very nice to look at ;)

PCSW the fishing villages are beautiful, very tranquil & very relaxing for a holiday so enjoy, hope the weather holds out too!

Thanks for the lovely comments regarding the post all, alot of memories came flooding to the surface & onto the page, hopefully that showed :)

Alex Horrocks said...


I came across this site via yahoo whilst looking up the cornish meaning of Lampetho.

Your writing enthrills and embodies the spirit of being cornish.

I believe I have met you a long time ago when your house was for sale. It was an overcast day when we toured the house and was sutiably impressed by its size and dimensions and I was taken away with the baby's crib room. The room was to the south of the west wing and was at the end of the landing. When you entered through the door it opened into a round room which the ceiling rose conically. my wife (fiance at the time) felt presence of spirit and was unsure wether it was welcoming or not. We were unfortunately put off by the collapsing western wall by the chimney stack which when we toured was covered with a tarpaulin. The piggery and small barns opposite were on the plans for development into holiday cottages which appealed to my parents as at the time the purchase was going to be a joint venture. I can remember the owners saying they were moving up the hill to the just then converted large barn. I can remember standing in the house and staring down the valley where the lights of Par had come on out of the gloom and fickered like camp fires. Another memory that sticks quite clearly was the second landing which was a couple of steps down from the first landing and headed north. It was quite wide and there was another crib to the right before the window that looked over the courtyard. I don't know why but the two things stuck in my mind.

Anyway we live in St Blazey now and our two daughters go to Tywardreath CP school. We drive past your old house daily and still wonder what it would have been like living there.

Good Luck with the police application.

PS Cornsih translation of Lampetho - Valley of the Dead.

I do believe wherever we live we are never truly alone.

Girl*Next*Door said...

Alex, that wouldn't have been me but the owners before us, we bought it from them. My God, what a very very small world!

The room you describe was my bedroom, that is where I saw shadows & sort of hazy figures. I actually moved rooms in the end because it began to spook me!

Yes, that landing was quite big & could almost have been a room on it's own.
My sisters & brother went to Tywardreath CP. Good old Mr. Walker although I don;t know if he's still there now?

Loved reading your comment & thank you so much for leaving it! What a very small world though.

Very interesting re Lampetho meaning, quite spooky too. I'm sure you'll agree (if you ever read this) that that area is so full of spirits & the feeling that you are never truly alone. Fascinating but also quite unnerving.