Family Gathering, Cornwall calling

2 June 2019
Ben Pentreath

We’ve been down in Dorset all week, since the bank holiday. I’ve had work in Poundbury. The evenings have been dreamy… 

Strange to think that last autumn, Charlie dug up the entire beds on the lawn and emptied them of all plants.  I’m not entirely sure why, I think he just wanted a change.  But what’s incredible is that we are therefore looking at the first year of a garden here.  It’s completely lush, heady in late May greens. 

The week rolled by, with friends staying and Dad popping over, and on Thursday evening our friend Ruth Guilding (aka The Bible of British Taste, both on her brilliant somewhat occasional blog and in instagram) popped in to stay en route to Cornwall.  We were heading down to her the following day, of which more later. 

A tour of the garden at sunset before supper. 

The church roof is being mended! A year ago, the incredible generosity of Charlie’s and my instagram pages, and this blog, pushed our fundraising efforts over the line and we were able to commission the start of works.  Planned to start just after Easter, they were a little late because of the builder’s last project over-running slightly.  Last week, scaffold was installed and now the painstaking, slow task of removing the Victorian roof slates is underway.  Magical to see. 

We were heading down to Cornwall for a family gathering of Pentreaths, in Mousehole and Paul.  This is where we all hailed from… a weekend of family history.

We’d actually ended up staying with Ruth in her beautiful cottage in Lamorna Cove (that you can rent, should you be interested).  We deposited Dad with the family and headed over to Lamorna. After the briefest cup of tea we were off to Trereife House for a drink and a look around, with Ruth’s wonderful friends Liz and Tim Le Grice. Stupidly, I didn’t ask to pull my camera out at all (it didn’t feel quite right) although I couldn’t help but photograph these beautiful letterpress posters in Tim’s study… the dream….

The house and garden are open and are beautiful; part of their beauty is their gently ramshackle nature, which gets rarer and rarer in this day and age. We eventually dragged ourselves off to Penzance for fish and chips on the seafront.

While the fish was cooking, I popped up the road to what is my favourite urban square in the whole of England, Regent Square. I know I’ve blogged about it before, so very loyal readers will be familiar with this ice-cream coloured confection of tiny Regency houses and cottages tumbling down the hill, with a sinuous road curving through the middle of the square, and beautiful front gardens snaking to tiny gates on the lane side.  Have I described that well enough? The photographs will have to do the rest….

I first visited Regent Square, entirely by accident, on a trip to Penzance that I must have made – with my friends Will and Monica – nearly ten years ago now.  I just had a little look to see if I was blogging back in those days. I am not sure.  But it was a revelation then, and still is.  It is heaven.

I did a scoot up to Morab Gardens….

I love Penzance. Even the flipping bin alleys look like this. Insane….

We walked back down to the Pirates Rest to collect our fish and chips….

And ate them on the seafront, overlooking the Jubilee Pool and St Michael’s Mount.


Look at a house like this:

Around the corner, the Farrow & Ball pale brown shades on walls and matching windows, and matching pairs of Lutyens benches, are rearing their head.  Just saying…. 

The crown… we arrived in daylight, 

and left at dusk. The perfect small pub, offering no food, no St Austell Brewery sugary beers, nothing, except a few great beers brewed in the back. 

The following morning, Charlie’s bunch of flowers from the garden were opening up.

We arrived at Paul Church for the start of the family history. I can’t help but admit I was happy to find a stack of plastic stacking chairs in a very prominent position. 

Here is the Pentreath Family window:

The glass was beautiful.  I noticed a tiny signature of Alexander Gibbs, who I learn set up the Bloomsbury Stained Glass Works in 1874 – originally in Bedford Square and moving to 21 Bloomsbury Street in 1876.  Five minutes from our London flat.  I must see if he was a brother of the Art Workers Guild….

After a brilliant introductory history by my esteemed cousin Jan Pentreath, we wandered the church and enjoyed the many family tablets and memorials.  The Pentreaths moved to the Parish of Paul in the 1500s from across the bay. 

This is the plaque to my ancestor, Richard Thomas Pentreath, the Penzance artist. My uncle has just re-printed his catalogue that I designed for his exhibition at the Penlee Gallery in Penzance some eight or ten years ago now. I’ll see if we can sell some in the shop…. watch this space. 

The church is filled with pitch pine Victorian pews, although Jan (who grew up in Mousehole) said that the old Cornish families really only attended Chapel.  Church was for weddings, funerals and not much else. 

I was delighted to spot more plastic chairs in the Belfry.

There is a panel in the church describing my ancestress Dolly, which I include here for the amusement value.

Here is her gravestone, in the wall of the churchyard (which again I know loyal blog readers will be familiar with).

We had a jolly lunch in the Kings Arms Pub….

(Leaving, we discovered a fantastic wedding about to happen next door….)

My cousin Jenny revealed for the first time EVER the memorial that my great-uncle Peter had written. I love the title. 

And we made our way to the beautiful church garden, where we were interring Peter’s ashes.  There are views of the sea in all directions.  The place was incredible serene.  Peter had been a distinguished General in the British Army, with a remarkable career including valiant action in the Second World War.  Here he will now rest forever, in the home place of his family. 

We left – the wedding party was in full swing. 

Returning to Lamorna, we popped in briefly to the village hall for the Lamorna Valley Art Group show…

Before walking down to the Cove, with its ravishing turquoise water. 

Ruth’s cottage:
And then we were off for another trip, this time to Prussia Cove, owned by Ruth’s friends Peter and Hannah Tunstall-Behrens. Dream Cornwall landscape… I almost felt for a minute – the heat of the afternoon, with the stony-white tracks and the brilliant blue sea and sky, that we were touching foot in Greece. 

Peter’s grandfather had built this remarkable arts and crafts house, designed by Philip Tilden, in an extraordinary position right on the coast. 

We drove back along the coast road.  Here is St Michael’s Mount. 

We had a fine and fantastic family dinner last night, in the hotel where most of the clan had gathered… The Old Coastguard, in Mousehole.  It started early and ended late. Yesterday would have been great uncle Peter’s 100th birthday, and we sang happy birthday to the arrival of a cake. The party looked like it may carry on into the night, but Ruth, Charlie and I had a late night pint in the Old Ship before heading home… to bed. We woke early and well-rested. Breakfast at Ruth’s, and then off. 

Dorset was misty when we returned.

I’m writing this evening, lying on the sofa with Mavis next to me, the fire lit and a beautiful sunset just burning through the clouds. We’re about to have supper and film night. 

What a beautiful and happy weekend it’s been. It’s strange when life gives us a week when I’m entirely out of London for ten days; I’m back up on the train tomorrow, and it’s going to feel rather strange.

18 comments on this post

DIane Penberthysays:

All sounds perfect.
I wish that I could have attended as my gggrandmother was Mary Pentreath born 1780 to NIcholas who died abt 1821. I took a rubbing once of Mary and Abraham Roberts on a tablet on wall next to lovely Paul Parish church.
Mary married Abraham Roberts a Blacksmith of Newlyn In 1810 and had James 1812, Thomas 1814, Jane 1815 and Abraham 1819. He left for Australia in 1853, and his wife Elizabeth nee Tonkin came in 1856 when he had commences his Foundry which eventually employed 100 men in Bendigo Victoria.

DIane Penberthy nee Roberts of Western Australia

Hannah Pennysays:

Dear Ben,
I too am a Pentreath (my mother was Patricia Pentreath b. 1940 in Coventry, father Ken born in Penzance and one of several siblings). I believe your father or grandfather contacted my mother many years ago (late 70s) when he was compiling the family tree. I distinctly remember my mother putting the phone down and telling me who had phoned and why. I was transfixed! My aunt Kathie (mother’s younger sister) and I have often looked for connections and recently saw the very moving obituary to your father in the Telegraph. He was a remarkable man, our deepest condolences for your great loss.
Reading about him and realising the family connections inspired me to look further and contact you on your blog. Of course I have visited Paul, Mousehole and Penzance many times during my life to see the memorial stone, but I had no idea about the Pentreath family window or church event!
I only found out this year about our Newlyn School link. This is particularly poignant for me as I am a secondary art teacher (Penarth, near Cardiff).
I would absolutely love to see a written version of the Pentreath family tree as I have found it quite a daunting task: could I ask if this is in existence? Also, do you know of future Pentreath events or groups that are in existence that I could contact?
I love your photographs, they have intrigued me further!!
Thank you so much for your time,
Hannah Penny


Now I see where you get it all from – apart from the pipe smoking that is! Best wishes, Nicola


Perfect as always. Thank you for sharing,it is most kind of you.

Deborah Wagnersays:

I very much appreciate the comfort that family links bring, and this illustrates it perfectly. You can’t put a price on belonging, being of a place.

Your forebear was a very good painter.

My husband and I adore Penzance. I can feel a plot forming somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind. ‘Twas the photos of the pub that nailed it.

Eternal thanks for the inspiration.

The garden is a dream, as per usual.

Thrilled to see the roof is being done.

Deborah x

Amber Davissays:

Thank you for this amazing journal of your family week-end reunion, and the beautiful photos. I enjoy all your blogs, but this one was especially sweet. I’m so happy to hear that your little church is finally getting a new roof! I hope you will do a book of your photos someday.

This is my first comment. I’ve followed your blog for some years & so look forward to your posts and musings along with beautiful pictures of your garden & others.
Kind regards from a chilly Melbourne.

Darlene Chandlersays:

Thank you again for a wonderful blog on Cornwall, with family and friends weekend. The pictures are magnificent, even more uplifting then usual. My dream has always been to travel to Penzance and one day when visiting London will do that special trip. Again, you have made my evening today so fulfilled and happy with your wonderful travels this weekend and all of the scenery, family, gardens and flowers, the church. I am arriving in London in 3 weeks and can’t wait. I make 5 trips a year and you and Charlie make me want to explore more. I so look forward to your next blog.


Lovely, lovely. I’m currently planning a trip to Cornwall, so your pictures were perfectly timed. I’m anxious to get there! Thanks from the Deep South of the US.


Please please Ben, never stop writing this blog! It is such a beloved feature, the words and people and pictures all what’s splendid in that splendid country.. I know how busy you are, but please keep finding the time for it, it is soooo wonderful to find your new post, like turning another page of your best book ever.
Cannot tell you enough how grateful I am about this diary of yours, thank you!
Love your gardens, doggies, houses, family and friends, you and Charlie are just some of my best dream, thank you for sharing, really, it gives so much delight, and hope, thank you.

Carl Youngbergsays:

Do look forward to your wonderful posts. With a husband who gardens, it is great to meet another couple like us. One question. Who cooks at your homes. I often see them mentioned but no one seems to be springing up and into the kitchen, unlike here. Come to Dallas. Huge design community here.

Julia Chasmansays:

Ben — your blog and site are a treasure, and I so enjoy keeping up with yours and Charlie’s adventures and various beautiful homes and the shop. As a designer in Los Angeles, I come to the shop in London whenever I’m there, and have various treasures in my house in Joshua Tree, including some amazing prints by Alice Patullo of a Quail and Jackrabbit. My house in Joshua Tree is called Quail’e End! Thank you for the attention you give to this blog and your Instagram — it’s really special!


Julia Chasman
Julia Chasman Design


Lovely to have coffee with you two weeks in a row! It is still unseasonably chilly here in the Great Lakes, the fire picture was perfect. It was a lovely stroll through Penzance and the bits of history. I enjoyed the pictures of Peter’s grandpa’s house, especially the doorway ones that beckon to beauty and adventure. As always, thanks for taking time to share the moments of your’s and Charlies dedications to beauty and family. Happy Re-entry and may it be smooth.
Sent from my iPad

David Sanderssays:

Cornwall is such a beautiful and charming part of the world and your camera has caught its essence perfectly, Ben. What really caught my eye was the New Zealand Cabbage trees, which seem to be thriving in Cornwall’s milder climate and in full bloom too. They give Penzance quite a tropical air – well, subtropical anyway. I have several Cabbage trees in my garden here in New Zealand; the only bugbear is that they constantly shed their leaves, which are quite uncompostable.


As always, your blogs are the absolute best. Photos are lovely. I always feel refreshed after reading one of your blogs. Thank you so much, Ben.


Lovely to read as always Ben. I do love starting my week off here in Tasmania reading your blog.
Thank you so much for sharing xx


Dear Ben,
thank you for sharing your wonderful time with us. I love your Cornish family history and Dolly Pentreath the fish-wife … is all so interesting to read! Wonderful photos from Cornwall and such a clear blue sky & sea …. amazing ! I´m always fascinated from Ruth`s Bible of British Taste blog and Instagram and her Cottage too ! Your parsonage and garden is wonderful as always and I enjoy your blog so much on this monday morning, it gives me a smile and power for the week ! Fantastic photos and blog,
thank you and nevertheless have a good week in London !
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

Sandra Floodsays:

What a lovely weekend including a tribal gathering, thank you for sharing. There must be a time warp as it is supper time on Sunday, 2 June in the Columbia mountains in the west of Canada!

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