Rame: a forgotten corner of Cornwall?

Rame is tucked away in the far south-east of Cornwall. Sometimes dubbed Cornwall’s forgotten corner, the district is possibly one of the least familiar in Cornwall to most residents, even those who might pride themselves on their knowledge of Cornwall. Despite its proximity to the busy city of Plymouth across the Tamar estuary, Rame has an air of remoteness. These two factors -nearness to Plymouth but also remoteness – enabled Cawsand Bay to become one of Cornwall’s most notorious haunts of smuggling in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Its smuggling days long gone (in the main), the parish of Rame is now combined with its neighbour Maker. But this didn’t happen until 1941. In Victorian days it was a separate parish, populated mainly by the families of mariners and fishermen, farmers and labourers, dockyard workers and Navy men, both active and retired. Its main population centre was the village of Cawsand, found next door to Kingsand, which was in the parish of Maker.

The view from Garret Street, Cawsand

In Cawsand’s Garret Street overlooking the bay we find Elizabeth White, daughter of a Royal Navy seaman who was in 1861 away at sea. By 1871 he had retired and was living at home, where Elizabeth remained, presumably helping her mother with domestic chores. In 1872 she married Frederick Rayner, although the marriage only lasted a few years as Frederick soon died. However, it was long enough to leave Elizabeth with two sons and in 1881 they were all living with her mother in Garret Street. In 1891 Elizabeth is missing but by the Edwardian years she was back in Garret Street, on her own and living on her own means. She died in 1917 in the same street in which she had grown up.

The view from the beach around 1900, looking in the same direction as in the above image

Near Elizabeth White in Garret Street was George Dinsmore, whose life-course provides a stark contrast to that of Elizabeth. George had been born at Folkestone in Kent in 1851, where his father William was a carpenter. By 1861 William was a clerk of works with the Royal Engineers. The family was well enough off for George to be dispatched to Glasgow University where he qualified as a surgeon. In the early 1880s he was practicing at Coundon, a coal mining village in County Durham, before marrying Jane from Paisley in Scotland. The couple moved back across the border to Coldstream in Berwickshire where he established a general practice. He died there in 1901.

St Michael’s Chapel on Rame Head might date back to the 11th century. It was built within an Iron Age cliff fort

One thought on “Rame: a forgotten corner of Cornwall?

  1. It is interesting to see, I think, the young versions of the large evergreen trees on the crest of the hill in the early photograph, which have now assumed quite some stature in the recent photograph. Regarding the earlier photograph, rather a delightful example of (strenuous) attempts by the locals to disport themselves at leisure.

    When you say Elizabeth was living on her own means, what does that mean (what a flexible word!)? Wouldn’t almost all women living alone have had to work, even if they did not admit it on the census (taking in washing, selling fish from a basket, etc.). There was no official system back them to enable people to draw housing benefit or an energy price cap.


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