“London is not in my District” – a fact-finding visit by Messrs. Harris Stone & Parker

On this day in 1909, James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

James [James’s son] drive Penzance in evening for two gentlemen Messrs. Harris Stone and Parker, they being writing a book about Sancreed etc. (Saturday 7th August 1909)

Then over the following days James wrote…

Tuesday 10th  –  James drives the gentlemen to Ding Dong and Zennor.

Friday 13th  –  James drives gentlemen St. Levan.

Tuesday 17th  –  James drives Mr. Harris Stone to Penzance leaving, Mr. Parker having left before.

Messrs. Harris Stone and Parker had already stayed at Glebe Farm for two nights the previous year (19th-21st April 1908). The end result was the book England’s Riviera by J. Harris Stone, published in 1912 (no mention of Mr. Parker!)

James and his Farm appear on page 257…

The grey granite church, with the vicarage snugly nestling close beside it on the north-west side, is simply embosomed in a grove of sycamore trees, lofty and graceful, from whose feathery summits come the almost never-ceasing “caw, caw” of numberless rooks. From the belfry windows may be seen flitting in and out an occasional jackdaw, and perhaps “amid the sticks and straw,” ends of which protrude and are clearly visible, who knows but one might find a ring or other relic in the nest of “that little jackdaw”?

Opposite the grey-stoned and lichened sacred edifice, just across the road, is the plain, solidly build glebe farmhouse, set well back in a recess from the thoroughfare, with a well in front (now closed in and surmounted with a pump), looking altogether very much like an old-fashioned wayside inn. In fact it used to be an inn, “The Bird in Hand,” but some twenty years ago the then vicar relinquished the licence after a man had fallen into the well on his way home, and not being accustomed to cold water, or indeed water of any temperature, had suffered from the immersion. Evidence of its tavern days are still visible inside, though where the old signboard went I know not. The little back parlour, which was formerly the bar, still has affixed to the walls the ancient settles in which sat the local politicians and gossips.

The present occupier of the glebe farm, Mr. Stevens, is warden of the church over the way, and runs the farm chiefly as a butter and poultry producing business, and is himself in perfect keeping with the harmonies of the place. He told me that once he went as far as Truro, whither he had been summoned as a juryman, that being the extent of his wanderings from the Land’s End, and when I mentioned the metropolis he replied, “London is not in my district.”

… but Mr. Harris Stone does misquote James when he says he’s only travelled as far as Truro.  James had been to Bodmin… twice!

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Author: Ann - Editor of James Stevens's Cornish Diary

My interest in family history began in 2010 and eventually led to the discovery of my Cornish ancestors. One of these was my Great-great-grandmother's sister, Honor Stevens, and her husband, James. Having read a copy of his published Diary I realised how useful it could be to other family and local history enthusiasts, so I spent the next few years re-transcribing it and producing a PDF version. I finished the transcription in August 2016, although it's clear it's going to be a continuing project as I add more background information. As I live about 5 hours drive from Cornwall, I'm able to holiday in the beautiful County of Kernow (or should that be Country!) at least once a year, visiting and photographing the places connected with the Stevens family. I've also been lucky to have the support of direct descendants of James & Honor, as well as local residents and organisations, who have helped with information and photos.

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