Falmouth has everything going for it as I have written before, so where better to buy my birthday present a ship’s barometer. We caught the 8.53 from Liskeard which we will use again as it was cheap, fast, clean and quiet – brilliant. After walking down from the station, our first stop was the Falmouth Watersports Centre for a coffee and a read of our paper. This was a terrific find, a lovely view as you can see above, and cheap as chips..£1.70 for a cappuccino, beat that! It looked as though it served nice food as well (white crab sandwich on Baker Tom’s bread sounded nice) so we will be back.
Having purchased the barometer, which is an extremely nice piece of kit, we left it for collection later and wound our way slowly down Falmouth’s main high street which is extremely long and always has new shops and restaurants of interest. Since we had not been in before we visited the Church of King Charles The Martyr which is one of only about half a dozen in the UK dedicated thus. Outside the church seems a bit lopsided with a narrow tower in relation to the bulk of the church. Inside was a revelation and quite unique, a light and spacious building with high, barrel ceilings and a quite beautiful feel to it. What struck us immediately, apart from the light, was the width of the church with the two side aisles being seemingly as wide as the nave (which was wide in itself!). There are some very interesting monuments, and a number of artefacts relating
to King Charles although the death warrant and letter of thanks to the people of Cornwall are seemingly copies. There is also a portrait of the king ‘by Peter Lely’ – amusingly Brian Sewell pours a bit of scorn on this. Lely is the first English painter who has left “an enormous mass of work”, although the quality of studio pieces is variable. As he put it:
There may well be thousands of these portraits, ranging from rare prime originals of often quite astonishing quality, to crass workshop replicas by assistants drilled to imitate Lely’s way with the fashionable face and repeat the stock patterns of the dress, landscapes, flowers, musical instruments and other essential embellishments of portraiture. On Lely’s death in 1680 his executors employed a dozen such slaves to complete for sale the many unfinished canvases stacked about his studio. It is these half-and-half and hardly-at-all Lelys that line the corridors of the indigent aristocracy whose houses are now administered by the National Trust, and no sight is more aesthetically and intellectually numbing, unless it is a corridor of Knellers.
Frustratingly I have found it extremely difficult to find out detailed information about the church….I have looked extensively on-line and consulted my Pevsner etc etc and we noticed there was one a very flimsy guide inside the church. I need to look into this further, as it cannot be right that so little history is available for such an important building.
Anyway, after the church visit we hot-footed it along to Harbour Lights fish and chips shop where we were just in time to beat the crowds. I had a voucher kindly sent by them entitling me to a free main course, it seemed a shame not to use it especially as Harbour Lights was voted the best fish and chips shop in Britain. Line-caught haddock and chips, mushy peas and tea was our choice. You get a lovely view of Falmouth harbour too which is a great bonus.
Refreshed we were walking past the shops again when I spotted a very attractive striped beach bag in the window of a charity shop (not a go-to destination for us usually!). On enquiry it was the princely sum of £5.50, so F. paid £6 (to their surprise) and acquired it. It was brand-new and probably worth £20 of anybody’s money, an unwanted present most likely. Perhaps we have found a new hobby…we also bought some pink shorts for me in a sale – can’t wait for an appropriate place to wear them!
Truro was a stop-off on the way home for a bit more window shopping. We didn’t find what we wanted, so back to the station and caught the train with seconds to spare.
That night I finished my latest read, ‘Cornwall From The Coast Path’ by Michael and Merryn Kent, an entertaining account of Michael’s 16 day trip to cover the 300 miles in Cornwall. Lots of research afterwards by his librarian wife on the places and wildlife along the way made this a particularly informative read. I also liked the fact that the author was just as tentative about going too near the cliff edges as me and just as likely to gorge on a couple of lollipops when a suitable opportunity arose. Plenty still for us to see in this wonderful county. Here I must make mention of a book which is very very covetable ‘London Hidden Interiors’ which I have at last opened and read from cover to cover. It’s a coffee table book in large format and magnificently illustrated. Most of the interiors it says are not open to the public but on our September trip to hear Nicola Benedetti and our stay with friends Malcolm and Anne I will see what I can do to get to see some of them at least. I don’t know of a more inspiring book. Typically a high proportion of the lush interiors represent the Victorian era – what a magnificent lot of people they were, the Victorians, and how I envy their supreme self-confidence and wish (to a degree at least) I had been born in that era, and was able to shake some of them by the hand.