A dry, bright and breezy Torpoint witnessed a unique Cornish tradition last Saturday (12th April) when the Cornish Gorsedh held the first of its gatherings in the town.
A warm welcome from Torpoint’s Mayor, Cllr Mike Pearn OBE, ensured a happy start to Gorsedh Kernow’s Proclamation ceremony which was held in the newly restored waterside Rendel Park after a procession of some sixty or so blue robed Bards through the streets of the town.
“The Proclamation heralds the coming of the Gorsedh later in the year,” said Grand Bard of Cornwall, Maureen Fuller, “and we are very honoured to be here in Torpoint as guests of the Mayor, Councillors and townspeople who are all working hard to support our needs this year.”
“Looking out over this mighty river, The Tamar, we are reminded today of the territorial boundary between Cornwall and England,” she added, “and records show that in 936AD King Hywel of Cornwall and King Athelstan of Wessex agreed the east bank as the border between the two countries.”
The brief ceremony was conducted in Cornish and English and included a presentation of flowers, symbolising the fruits of the Earth, to the Grand Bard by local girl Rosie Hortop, chosen to be this year’s “Lady of the Flowers”.
Following an invitation by the Mayor to hold the Bardic ceremony there in September the Grand Bard presented a framed original poem, in Cornish describing their town, as a gift for the people of Torpoint.
“We are very proud to be hosting the Gorsedh of the Bards of Cornwall,” said Cllr Mike Pearn MBE, Mayor of Torpoint and leader of the local organising committee, “and this Proclamation has given locals and visitors to Torpoint an exciting preview of September’s main event.”
The procession of some sixty blue robed Bards was led by Grand Bard of Cornwall Maureen Fuller, Steren Mor, accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress of Torpoint, Cllr and Mrs Mike Pearn, and Rosie Hortop as “Lady of the Flowers.”
Less than 300 years old, one of the first mentions of Torpoint is in an old print of the Hamoaze dated 1734; showing two men leaning against a millstone which has the words Tarr Point carved on it.
The Hamoaze is an estuarine stretch of the tidal river Tamar between the river Lynher and Plymouth Sound and flows past Devonport Dockyard. The expansion of Devonport, or “Dock” as it was known, was responsible for the growth of Torpoint. The official ferry service, rowed or sailed across the river started on 4th July 1791 so that workers, sailors, traders, farmers and ordinary people could cross to Plymouth.
The first steam ferry service running on chains came in 1834 and was designed by James Meadows Rendel.
Rendel Park, named after James Meadows Rendel, designer of the chain ferry system, was opened originally in November 1978, but was closed when work started on the ferry beach prior to the arrival of the current generation of ferries. The park was finally reopened to the public on Friday, 8th March 2013.
[Ed. The Open Gorsedh will be held in Penntorr (Torpoint) on Saturday 6 September, 2014]
15 April, 2014
Delia Brotherton (Myrghwyn Melynor)
Communications Officer, Gorsedh Kernow