The gentry at home around 1800

Two hundred years ago life was hard for most people in Cornwall. But for a small minority fortunate enough to own land things could be lot more comfortable. Much time was spent visiting each other's houses. Staying at Tehidy, the home of the Bassets, in 1792 James Boswell described the: astounding variety of alcoholic beverages … Continue reading The gentry at home around 1800

Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall

The following is an extract from Chapter 7 ('The plain an gwarry') of my The Real World of Poldark: Cornwall 1783-1820. Drink and the public house were accepted as central to popular culture in the eighteenth century. The involvement of publicans in the national sport of wrestling has already been noted. Many pubs would also … Continue reading Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall

Camborne versus Redruth: Regrettable scenes

One of the iconic dates in the Cornish sporting calendar is the annual rugby match between Camborne and Redruth, held on Boxing Day. Sometimes, the two teams also met on Easter Monday to renew their competition. On occasion however, this resulted in more than friendly local rivalry between two neighbouring towns. Take this fixture from … Continue reading Camborne versus Redruth: Regrettable scenes

A game fit only for barbarians

It's the weekend, traditionally the time to play and watch sport, although at the moment watching is a mite more difficult than normal. Three hundred years ago the most watched sport in Cornwall would have been wrestling. The other sport associated with Cornwall was hurling. Here's an extract from chapter 7 of my forthcoming Poldark's … Continue reading A game fit only for barbarians

Bob Fitzsimmons: Cornwall’s world boxing champion

Cornwall can claim a world boxing champion. And not just a champion but someone who won three world championships at different weights – middle, heavy and light heavy. The house in Wendron Street where Bob was born In actual fact, Bob Fitzsimmons’ connection to Cornwall was rather tangential. Born in Helston on this day in … Continue reading Bob Fitzsimmons: Cornwall’s world boxing champion

Helston’s Furry Day and Hal-an-Tow

Another iconic Cornish festival day. Another sad silence. Although traditional furry dances were held in several places across Cornwall within living memory – I remember participating at Liskeard – Helston is now regarded as the home of the furry. The event shares some aspects with Padstow’s ‘Obby ‘Oss - the celebration of spring, traditional songs, … Continue reading Helston’s Furry Day and Hal-an-Tow

Let us all unite: May Day at Padstow

Unite and unite and let us all unite For summer is acome unto day The words of the ‘Obby ‘Oss songs will not be heard this year. The ‘osses will remain in their stables and Padstow will be eerily quiet as this iconic Cornish festival comes to a temporary halt, brought low by a virus. … Continue reading Let us all unite: May Day at Padstow

Cornish rugby football finds its feet

Last weekend saw the Rugby World Cup final. Nowadays rugby and association football are viewed as entirely separate games. In fact they share a common ancestor, which we should just call ‘football’. In the middle of the 1800s football was played at the public schools as well as by more working-class communities up and down … Continue reading Cornish rugby football finds its feet