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Fowey Harbour Heritage Society
Views over Fowey harbour


Breaking the Mould: The South West Suffragettes

Breaking the Mould: The South West Suffragettes
A Talk by Pamela Vass: Whitecross Village Hall, 16 October
It was lovely to welcome so many to this face to face meeting and we spent a very interesting and informative afternoon in the company of Pamela Vass.
Born and raised in London, Pamela felt drawn to the West Country and after studying for her MA at Exeter University was to realise this may have been due to the fact her ancestors all hailed from this area. Her fiction and non-fiction work is based on the landscape and people of the West Country and her need to find out the truth, or otherwise, behind local stories. It was this need that drew her to a newspaper article referring to a house razed to the ground by fire – a fire thought to have been started by Suffragettes. She needed to find out the truth behind this mystery and her extensive research led to her book about Women’s Suffrage in the West Country. The working title for this book was ‘Fire in the Belly’ but a quick Google search found this to be the title of Larry Crofts’s book about Donald Trump’s ‘Ride into Washington on a White Horse’! A title change was in order —“Breaking the Mould”!
Breaking the Mould charts Women’s Suffrage from the First Women’s Suffrage Petition to Parliament in 1832 to the end of the war and just beyond when all women achieved the vote in 1928. Pamela’s passion for her subject really shone through during her talk and she carefully guided the listener through the twists, turns and complexities of Women’s Suffrage, exploring the local movement against the backdrop of the national movement — something I had never really thought about before and I was surprised to learn how active and organised the women of the West Country were to establish this right.
Her storytelling, aided by original footage, extracts from the the book, real life stories of the women involved and appearing in costume of the day, all helped to transport the listener back in time and to better understand the courage, passion and determination of all those involved to secure the right of women to vote.
Suzanne Goddard 18 October 2021

Breaking the Mould: The South West Suffragettes18/10/2021

‘Fascinating People and their Association with Fowey’ by Lynn Goold Saturday 2.30pm 30 January 2021

Members on almost sixty devices tuned in to Lynn’s informative and well-illustrated Zoom talk on three well-known former residents of Fowey.

Lynn’s talk began with Roden Noel, probably the least known of the trio. Born in 1834, he was the son of the first Earl of Gainsborough and became a prominent poet. Whilst living in Fowey he wrote ‘The Merry-go-round at Fowey’. After his death in 1894, one of his poems ‘Sea Slumber Song’ inspired Sir Edward Elgar, who set it to music as the first song in his song-cycle ‘Sea Pictures’ in 1899. His ‘Collected Poems’ were published in 1902.

Born in 1892, Leo Walmsley was a Yorkshireman, but lived in many different parts of the British Isles, including several years in the 1930s by a shore in Pont Pill in a humble army hut. Here, as a struggling author, he wrote some of his most famous works, novels that were mainly autobiographical, and all with a deep love of the area in which they were set. ‘Love in the Sun’ is a beautiful account of his time in Pont Pill, and when published in 1939 was destined to be a best seller until war dashed this hope. After returning to Yorkshire to live off the land, Leo Walmsley finally came back to Cornwall and settled in Passage Street, Fowey, where he died in 1966.

Fred Yates was a personal friend of Lynn’s mother, and they corresponded for many years. Born in Lancashire in 1922, he had been inspired by the artist Lowry to paint the lives of ordinary people, usually in a style that was naïve, colourful, and with a thick textured surface. He was nomadic and lived in various places, including in France and Cornwall - not just in Fowey, but in Lostwithiel, St Just and Marazion - always looking for artistic inspiration. He died in 2008.

Lynn ended with Fred Yates’ colourful painting of the merry-go-round on Fowey Town Quay, echoing Roden Noel’s poem at the beginning of her talk.

Jane Staniland


"What the Tudors did for Fowey" by Alex Lewis

Many FHHS members signed in to Alex Lewis’ recent Zoom talk on the ‘What the Tudors did for Fowey’. She gave us a masterful description of how the dynasty came into being, bringing alive those times in Fowey’s history with many tales of local people of the day.

Such as how three Treffry brothers fought in the Battle of Bosworth for the soon-to-be Henry the 7th and were rewarded for their bravery.

When Henry sent Sir Richard Edgecombe over to Ireland to assert his authority there, his small fleet had to battle a fierce storm on the way home and Sir Richard vowed to extend Polruan’s St Saviour’s chapel as thanksgiving for his safe return.

In Henry the 8th‘s time his hostilities with France and Spain led to the production of the map of the whole of the south coast including Fowey and also to the building of Saint Catherine‘s castle by the harbour mouth.

Alex concluded her talk with discussion of Fowey and the Spanish Armada in Elizabeth the 1st reign. She spoke of the involvement of Philip Rashleigh’s ship the Frances and how a model of this ship was hung outside the door of his house in the Town which led to the building being named The Ship Inn as it still is today.

A very enjoyable and informative talk, many thanks to Alex.


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