Get cultured in Cornwall
So much more than pasties and beaches
(although they are very good)
No, we’re not talking probiotics here, although I’m sure there are some very good Cornish examples in amongst the clotted cream, we mean the fantastic history and arts base that can be found in Cornwall. It’s not all surfing and pasties here, although it can be argued the surf culture is the best in the country and what a genuinely unique idea the Cornish pasty was. After all, producing an environmentally friendly tasty and fulfilling snack that miners could eat with dirty hands (the thick crust was then thrown away to protect the consumer from the high levels of arsenic in many tin mines) must have taken a genius. It certainly caught on and the humble true Cornish pasty now has a protected status.
The rural county of Cornwall with its wild moors and breathtakingly beautiful beaches has attracted many an artisan and artist alike. Spilling over with art galleries and a huge history of arts and crafts, it’s home to the Tate, St Ives and numerous highly regarded studios as well as the Barbara Hepworth and Sculpture Garden. Winding through the cobbled streets of St Ives, old sail lofts now occupied by artists, open their doors to welcome passersby whilst former west coast artists’ colonies continue to inspire today’s generation.
Authors Daphne Du Maurier and Rosamunde Pilcher have penned vivid literary descriptions of their home county whilst Charles Causley’s poetry captivates the native Cornwall he knew so well. William Golding also grew up and spent his childhood holidays in Cornwall and famously Cornwall’s north coast was also a latter day home to poet John Betjemin who described his adopted county with clarity and ease. Mourning the passing of the old ways in his poem ‘Delectable Duchy’ he reminisced on:
“The shadowy cliffs and sheep-worn ways,
The white unpopulated surf,
The thyme- and mushroom-scented turf…”
A delicious local larder of fresh seafood coupled with a knack for creating first class dairy produce has attracted many a famous chef and food artisan. Restaurants and food premises from top chefs such as Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, and Paul Ainsworth are dotted around the county. Cornwall can boast its own meat and dairy produce, beers, ales and wines, biscuits and even tea. A healthy distribution of Michelin stars belongs in the county and its not difficult to stumble on some of the best Cornish restaurants and bars on any of it’s three coastlines.
From Pasties to Poldark
The Wildworks Theatre Company grew up here, as did The Kneehigh Theatre Company. Cornwall’s Minack Theatre has to be one of the most amazing performance venues in the country. Cut into the rugged cliffs near Land’s End, spectators may awe at more than the wonderful performance. Filmmakers recognising the potential of a stunning backdrop, have travelled here since those first grainy black and white films began and the list of Cornwall film locations is extensive. Perhaps the best combinations occur when an adaptation of a novel from a Cornish author is bought to life in its original location. Author Winston Graham researched old Cornish letters before penning his Poldark novels, now proving to be a huge success in its recent dramatisation. The spellbinding story and lure of the Cornish landscape are a heady mix.
Dynnargh dhis (‘Welcome’ in Cornish)
Cornwall has so much else to boast about. A smattering of Saints, Cornish Giants and perhaps King Arthur add to some of the famous Cornish myths and legends. A wealth of National Trust properties from all eras also lie within the county as do English Heritage sites, ancient and amazing. Blessed with a mild climate, the counties gardens thrive with flora and fauna including many sub-tropical specimens. This is a county where its own native language almost died out but is now on the increase. Kernow lovers, as Cornwall supporters are known are apt to wave the distinctive black flag with a white cross where possible and a quick greeting of ‘Dydh da!’ (hello) is sure to raise a smile. Celebrating Cornish culture is encouraged and a calendar of colourful festivals means holiday visitors can join in and get a flavour of the county in more ways than one. However, if Cornwall for you is about relaxing on the beach, with sandcastles and ice cream, then you’re equally as welcome.