On this day in 1904…

… James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

42 battleships are in Penzance harbour for a few days and the crews are at leave on land.  I hear they are 35 or 40 thousand of them and Penzance could not hold them at lodgings. (Saturday 30th July 1904)

I’ve found some photos on this website

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Also on this day in 1892…

 

… James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

Attended the auction of Tremedder [Tremedda], Foage, Tregarthen and Carne at the Western Hotel.  The reserve not being reached the several lots were bought in and sold afterwards to J. Branwell Esq. for the sum of £2900, that being about £1700 for Tremeddar [Tremedda], £800 for Foage and £400 for Tregarthen and Carne, the rent of the first £70, of the second £23 (this being the Lord’s rent), and of the third £15. (Thursday 28th July 1892)

James was an under-tenant at Foage,  farming about 70 acres of land owned by the Gilbert family of Eastbourne.  All the Gilbert properties in Zennor, including Foage, were sold to Mr. J. Branwell of Penzance in July 1892. (According to an earlier Diary entry in March 1877 “attend sale of Foage land at the Western Hotel, Messrs. BRANWELL purchaser at £2,265”, so the Branwell family must have already owned some of Foage).

The land and properties at Foage are now owned by the National Trust, and the farmhouse is a NT holiday cottage called ‘Honor’s House’.  You can take a tour around the house here but I’m sure it bears little resemblance to the Stevens family home of the 1890s!

 

 

A trip to St. Michael’s Mount in 1877…

…. recorded on this day by James Stevens in his Diary…

Rode to St. Michael’s Mount with Sunday School in Troon’s carriage.  Saw the castle enlarging and was put through the castle and sat in one of the old oak chairs.  I had dinner at Andrew Eddy’s house, Marazion. (Saturday 28th July 1877)

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According to my old guidebook to St. Michael’s Mount…

“Between 1873 and 1878 Sir John St. Aubyn employed as an architect his cousin Piers St. Aubyn to design the Victorian wing of the castle…. Sir John St. Aubyn wanted more accommodation and living space for his country house.  The new Victorian wing was erected below the old buildings under a flat terrace roof….  The architect took great care to ensure that the original buildings should continue to dominate the summit of the Mount so that it still presented the same familiar outline when viewed from the mainland.”

(St. Michael’s Mount: Illustrated history and guide by John St. Aubyn. Pub: 1978)

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At Sancreed Holy Well…

… on this day in 1910, James Stevens recorded in his Diary…

At a Service in Church in afternoon and then at a short service at the Holy Well where Rev. Stona dedicated a cross which was set up there last week to mark the spot where Christianity was probably preached in this Parish. Three ladies (one of them staying here) staying for a while in the Parish are the means of setting it up. About a dozen people attended the service at the Holy Well. (Sunday 24th July 1910)

Following the signed footpath that runs beside James’s old home (Glebe Farm), after about 400 yards you come to the Holy Well (and the ruined medieval baptistery). 

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One of a number of Holy Wells in Cornwall, Sancreed’s possibly dates from around the 7th century.  Beside it is a ‘cloutie’ tree, decorated with strips of coloured fabric. 

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The theory is that, if you’re ill, you drink water from the Well (not recommended!) or bathe in it and tie a ‘cloutie’ to the tree. Then when the fabric disintegrates your illness will disappear too.  Judging by the number of pieces of fabric on the tree this is still a popular tradition, though the steep, slippery steps down to the water and the colour of the water itself didn’t tempt me to try the ‘cure’!

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For more about Cornish Holy Wells see esdale77’s blogs about St. Keyne’s Holy Well and Quenchwell Spring.

 

On this day in 1910…

… James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

The fleet in Penzance Bay, 193, their crews numbering from 25,000 to 30,000 men. Each day they will require about 20,000 lbs of meat, 20,000 of bread and 50,000 of vegetables. (Thursday 21st July 1910)

But things didn’t go quite to plan, as James reported a few days later… 

The fleet that I wrote above about intended to stay till Thursday and the King was coming to Mounts Bay to inspect them, but the wind was so strong yesterday and Saturday evening that they were dragging their anchors and likely to get damaged, and they all left Saturday evening and yesterday leaving Penzance shopkeepers with a lot of provisions in hand that they had provided for them. They are gone to Torbay where the King will inspect them. (Monday 25th July 1910)

The King was George V, who had been crowned on 6th May of that year. 

So the shopkeepers of Cornwall lost out to the shopkeepers of Devon!

I’ve found more info on this website

Weather reports from James Stevens…

… on this day in 1902…

Last Tuesday [15th July] was the hottest day, 85 degrees, 11 degrees in excess of the average for the past 60 years.  (Saturday 19th July 1902)

… and on this day in 1912…

This week has been very dry and the first 2 days of it extremely hot, some dying of heat in London and one man aged 70 died sudden in Penzance, several having just before died in New York.  (Friday 19th July 1912)

I thought a ‘weather report’ was topical after the fierce thunder storms we experienced in South and South-West England last night.   My thoughts are with the people of Coverack, on the Lizard Peninsula, who suffered damage to their village due of a flash-flood (but, thankfully, no casualties).

Also on this day in 1912…

… James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

A National Insurance begun today (Act of Parliament), every employer must insure his employed by fixing a 7d stamp on his or hers insurance card every week, 3d of it he may or has the right to deduct it from the employee’s wages (the stamp a National Health Insurance stamp), and the Government pays 2d or 1d weekly. The insured gets 10s per week when sick and doctor free. Great protests against this bill by thousands of people, many cannot afford to do it.  (Monday 15th July 1912)

James employed one farm worker, Ernest Thomas, who James recorded as “home sick” on Wednesday 17th July.  He was back at work a week later, collecting coal from Newlyn on Thursday 25th July.  I wonder if Ernest got his 10 shillings sick pay!