July 26th In Search of St. Anthony in Roseland

I had no idea where to make for in Cornwall.  One road was as good as another.  I took the map and one name curled itself round my heart.  I do not think that in the whole length and breadth of England there is a more beautiful name. But to fall in love with a name is like falling in love with a voice heard over a telephone.   A  meeting might prove fatal.  But not to risk the impossible, I whispered it twice, and took the inevitable road to: St. Anthony in Roseland !

I am writing in the tiny bedroom of a cottage in St. Anthony in Roseland.  The thatch comes down so low that the upper part of the window-frame has a stubby beard. I can see when I look out of the window a dump of trees and a field shaped like a green dome; beyond is a vast emptiness of sky that means the sea. I cannot see the water, but I can hear a steady whisper of waves breaking in the little rocky bay below.  That and the song of birds are the only sounds in St. Anthony in Roseland.
I have said that I came here because I liked the name.  I came prepared for the worst: for a mine shaft and a street of  dreary shops. At Tregoney I left the main road and dived in a labyrinth of lanes so small that there was no clearance between the car and the hedge-banks.  Green plants caught me by the arm and seemed to say: ‘ Don’t go on; don’t go on; a man who expects St. Anthony in Roseland to look as it sounds is only gathering one more disappointment. . . .’

But I went on; and I came at length to the darkest tunnel of a lane I have ever seen.  The hedges had grown up and formed arches the whole length of it; and the lane dipped down and down in green gloom and then rose deeply, in the manner of these Cornish lanes, bending suddenly to give a view of the sea, startlingly near, breaking on a rocky coast, the high hills lying back spread with neat, cultivated fields.  Turning a corner I came to St. Anthony in Roseland.

Now, if anything you have believed in has continued to be worth your faith, if anything you have wanted has not fallen below the expectation, you will realize my wonder when I saw St. Anthony.
Twenty tiny whitewashed cottages stood dotted about among tall hedges.  They were covered with flowers.  The bees were busy in the gardens.  In many gardens were those typical Cornish palm trees that rise twelve feet in the air and end in leaves like bunches of green bayonets.  There was no inn, no post office, and the nearest shop, I learned, is at Gerrans, five miles down those luscious lanes. St. Anthony in Roseland seemed loft, and happy to be loft, dreaming beside the sea.

This is an extract from H.V. Morton’s ‘In Search of England’ and is one of the loveliest descriptions of a Cornish village.

H.V. Morton (1892 – 1979) who was born on this day was a successful travel writer of the 1920s and 1930s who emigrated to South Africa after the Second World War but was extremely influential in promoting Cornish tourism.

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