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Thomas Hardy and Thomas Hardy in Cornwall.
Speaker from the Thomas Hardy society.
While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891)
However it was the North Cornish coast the Valency Valley was where English novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, met his first wife, Emma, in 1870. Both the place and Emma herself provided inspiration for Hardy’s works for years to come.
Thomas Hardy was a 30 year old architect who came to survey the building and prepare the design for St Juliot Church and the rectory it was then he met Emma on 3 March 1870. Emma Gifford was living at the rectory with her sister, the Revd Cadell Holder’s second wife. The first visit lasted four days during which Hardy visited Tintagel, Beeny Cliff and the Valency Valley.
Hardy returned to St Juliot in August that same year when he stayed longer. As well as working on the church he and Emma continued to explore the North Cornwall coast including Bude, Trebarwith Strand and The Strangles beach.
Other visits followed and they married in 1874. Thomas Hardy’s third novel, ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’, had been published in 1873 and Emma was the model for the heroine of the book. However, many places were deliberately disguised and created by Hardy as a fusion of great houses he once visited.
The marriage between Hardy and Emma turned sour but when she died in November 1912, Hardy, consumed with remorse, wrote several poems in her memory. He returned to St Juliot the following spring. There, he designed the memorial tablet to Emma on the north wall of the church, and had it made by a Boscastle stonemason.
Sabine Baring-Gould in Cornwall
Speaker: Martin Graebe
Though Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) is most closely associated with Devon, his home in Lewtrenchard was close to the Cornish border and he was a frequent visitor to the county to study its history, archaeology and its people. He described them in many of the books and articles that he wrote, and he set several of his popular novels in the landscape of East Cornwall. He was a President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall. He was a leading figure in the restoration of the Well-Chapel of St Clether in 1898. Baring-Gould regarded the collection of songs that he made in Devon and Cornwall as his greatest achievement and he made many visits to the county to hear the songs of Cornish men and women and to make a permanent record of their songs and their lives. Martin Graebe will talk about Baring-Gould’s discoveries in Cornwall at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and about the songs that he heard from its people. Time permitting, some of these songs may be performed by Martin and his wife, Shan.
Martin Graebe researches and writes about folk song. He lived and worked for many years in West Devon where he took a particular interest in Sabine Baring-Gould, and the collection of songs that he made in the area around his home at Lewtrenchard. He sings with his wife, Shan, and they have performed Baring-Gould’s songs to audiences around the world. Martin’s book, As I Walked Out, Sabine Baring-Gould and the Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall, was published in the Autumn of 2017.
Organised by Barry West Cornish Researcher and the people of St Clether.