Book Reviews Uncategorized West Cornwall (and local history)

Glass, The Strange History of- by Lyne Stephens Fortune

In this panoramic view of two Cornish families spanning two centuries all sorts of characters make an appearance. Not only are we educated in the ambience of English Merchants in Portugal but people as diverse as Southey, William M.Thackery, John Lemon and Canning, to mention but a few, all make an appearance. It begins by relating the making of a fortune by William Stephens, grandson of the Vicar of Menheniott and an enterprising genius. Her is the story of a merchant who becomes a manufacturer of glass.

William was educated at Exeter Free Grammar School, having left the area near Saltash, where he grew up. He went on to serve on the Lisbon packets upon arrival in Portugal became involved with the intrigues of Carvahlo, the Marquis of Pombal. He was next to witness the destruction of Lisbon by the great earthquake in 1755. As Jenifer Roberts interestingly points out, high waves from the latter were still above 8 foot when they made boats in St Ives rise more than eight feet. Then William opened a glass factory in Marinha Grande and securing exemption from taxes, charmed princes and queens so as to build a fabulous fortune.

The profits from the Stephens fortune passed also into the hands of their Lyne relations also living in both Portugal and Cornwall. The author outlines the family history, which involves wars and rebellions and diverting interludes. Eventually some of the fortune ends up in the hands of a feisty French ballerina and into the hands of various lawyers settling claims upon it. This is a splendid tale, well written and for those who find truth stranger than fiction, a great historical and biographical account.

The Strange History of the
Lyne Stephens Fortune


Book Reviews Penwith Poetry Uncategorized

Bardhonyeth Kernow,Poetry Cornwall (Volume 27)

Bardhonyeth Kernow

This issue contains a wide variety of contributions from over sixty poets from Scotland(which also provides the lichen encrusted wheel arch cover image from Callander) to Germany, from Wales to Spain. Naturally the emphasis are on Cornish poems and it is the landscape of Kernow which provides the inspiration for many of these verses in dialect and Kenewek with a translation and interpretation section carefully chosen by Grand Bard, Mick Paynter. It is good to see the enthusiasm for good poetry in the Duchy from such various sources as French, Scots Gaelic and even the Romany language of Gurbet. This is a collection which is not afraid to approach the edge, like Sam Harcombe, who at Warren Cliff approached, ignoring stakes and danger signals:-

Hoping to catch sight of seal,

I wanted to look closer at the inlet far below, but

riddled with rabbit holes and

cracks it was obviously dangerous.

I went a few steps past the stakes

And still saw not enough

Bernard Jackson prefers the sylvan safety of the Sunlit Leaves as the sun sinks and he wanders entranced by the magic of a slow watered stream:-

Eternal is the flame that ne’er consumes,

Yet blazons leaves, nor shall one instant fade.

From woodland reign that readily assumes

This seasoned garb, immortally arrayed.

In traceries where sunlight shines between,

God’s glory is a miracle of green.

Bardhonyeth Kernow’s Editor Les Merton

Besides such nature poems form Perranuthnoe to Predannack, there are some moving poems inspired by the cheerful and encouraging words from the nursing staff on Geevor Ward which as Donald Rawe puts it “Restore humanity to the clinical desolation”. There are sad, human reflections on Casualty and Geriatric Wards. There are too the lifting memories of repairing with his father My Pink Bicycle by Graham Rippon:-

“Paint it any colour you like”

But the only colour we had was Pink

This little collection is a gem and a tribute to the current interest in poetry in our Duchy.

Art Exhibition Reviews Uncategorized

Krowji at Christmas Continued

At Krowji creativity is by no means confined to the painters, however splendid these may be. One of the most intriguing workshops is that of woodworker and  furniture designer Tom  Raffield His skills in the controlled forming of wood create geometrically interesting objects from elegant chairs, flourishing lampshades to plant pots. His pendants fashioned in ash are particularly decorative and captivating.

Lounge Daddy Chair by Tom Raffield
Pendants in ash

When it comes to prints, petroglyphs and paintings it is worth recalling what Peter Fox says about his inspiration that appears,” to grow from some substratum of myth and rough magic quite outside the currents of his time.” Drawing on Norse mythology such as that concerning the wolf child Fenrir, child of the trickster Loki, Fox has produced a series of captivating gouaches, which can be seen at He has also used slate and wooden frames to produce the petroglyphs and made many woodcuts on a variety of types of paper. Peter has  a lyrical approach to composition and colour; it is not surprising to discover that he is a member of the Latin-Cuban dance band, Quijada (Spanish for jawbone apparently),a five piece group playing irresistible salsa rhythms.

Loki by Peter Fox

Further down the corridor Naomi Singer’s translucent glass panels and tiles in lustrous olives, blues and aquamarines. She has perfected a technique which combines digital photography and water transfer paper to make stunning plates, bowls and coasters. Unfortunately, Naomi has recently broken her ankle in three places but is still turning out magnificent work which you can read about on her blog at Walking around her studio feels a little like being a fish swimming amongst underwater reeds, although these are mostly the botanic forms created from fennel, allium and ivy. Her satellite and other slumped dishes are particularly captivating as may be seen at

Coasters in Naomi Singer's workshop












Sharing display space with Naomi was the resin and silver jewellery of Hannah Mary whose inspiring rings have been displayed in Vogue magazine. These eye-catching pieces may be viewed at Hannah works in the inspiring setting of Gallery 2Wo in an ingenious collective at Jubilee Wharf in Penryn.

Lastly, no visit to this kind of event would be complete without a chat with and a viewing of the outré and individual prints  and book collections of Ros Williams or Marie-Louise Denny’s brilliant and original textile collection at

crazyladder from 100 Objects

Bird outside a cage by Ros Williams