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Gulval, Cornwall
 
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Those whose minds run back to far-off times will love GULVAL, and so will those who love these days of ours. The old world itself lingers on about these leafy lanes that climb and wind, these cottages with gay flowers, and this churchyard like a tropical garden.

Here are dolmens and stone circles. It is the easiest village from which to visit the beehive huts of Chysauster. At Rosemorran someone found a thousand Roman coins buried in a pot. At Bleu Bridge is a six-foot stone carved about 14 centuries ago. In the churchyard is the shaft of a Saxon cross, the fragment of a Norman tomb, and a lychgate made from the old arcading of the Bolitho chapel in the church.

We come upon the Bolithos on the way from Penzance, for a granite horse-trough has on it the reminder that little Simon Bolitho passed this way. He lived for five years in our century and is thus kindly remembered; there is a marble monument to him in the church, a child's head enfolded in wings and the words: "God Himself His soul will keep." It was Richard Bolitho who built the delightful group of almshouses round three sides of a lawn.

Here lies an old man who must have loved little Simon and who himself was greatly loved. He was William Wriothesley Wingfield, and he was vicar of this church longer than any other man has ever been; though he has not the longest record of any vicar in this country he is very near it, for here he was 73 years and more, from the early days of the Victorian Era to the eve of the Great War. He came in 1839 and died in 1913. At the end of his 50 years they hung six new bells in the tower, at the end of his 73 years they gave the tower a clock, and on the chancel ceiling are 26 angels painted in memory of him.

He made his old church new with fine modern screens, painted roofs, alabaster panelling, oak benches with bronze shields, gilded bosses and angels with bright wingsmost of this in the Bolitho Chapel. One of the screens he put in has 48 small angels on its cornice. A fine alabaster monument set up in his day is to William Bolitho, with three shields at the front, and a vaulted canopy over three mosaics of Our Lord between two angels with a palm branch and a crown.

What is left of olden days is the tower and the south arcade of the 15th century, the pillars of the arcade carved with angels; and the font of the 14th century, also with an angel on its bowl. One old tomb is to the Arundells of 1635, and has on it two bearded figures kneeling on cushions, both in knee breeches and high-topped boots with black capes turned back to show red and blue linings edged with gold. They wear white ruffs and are an attractive pair.

Arthur Mee's King's England, Cornwall (1937). An original copyright transcription by CuriousFox, edited for identification purposes.

CHYSAUSTER. On the western slopes of this hill below the high down we pass along a village street as old and strange as ruined Pompeii. We are in one of the little-known soUtudes of Cornwall, a high and lonely place reached by half a mile of pathway through the fields; and the spectacle of this prehistoric viUage (best reached from Gulval near Penzance) is astonishing.

Its blocks of stone, scattered in seeming confusion, can be resolved into a plan which reveals them as an orderly collection of the dwelhngs of the earUest of tin mining towns. How early they may be we can guess. In these oval-shaped stone dwellings dwelt the same miners who bartered tin with the visiting Phoenicians. The tidings of the Roman conquest reached them, and left its impress on some of the pottery they made or used and left here in broken shards for their 19th-century descendants to find.

Within the circuit of the wall that completely encloses the whole village we seem to stand on the foundations of Cornwall. A mile to the east is the Celtic hill-fort of Castle-an-Dynas with the wide panorama of bracken and gorse. Across the stream is the dolmen of Mulfra Hill, the tower of Buryan Church, and the deserted pumping shaft of the Ding-Dong Mine. The blue horizon of Mount's Bay closes in all.

Halfway up the hill we come to a coarse arch of large stones like the mouth of a cave which was the entrance to a masonry tunnel that made a kind of covered way to the settlement above. It points the long ruined way to the eight or ten huge flat houses planned from a single type and together covering about ten acres. Many other examples of these so-called beehive huts have been found singly in Cornwall, in Wales, in Scotland, and in Ireland, but nowhere is there such a group as here. The explanation that they were the huts of a peaceable people working the tin in a stream and cultivating the land is the only likely one. There is no trace of weapons, no sign of sudden destruction or plundering.

A typical group of house or houses occupied an oval place 95 feet long with chambers opening into a central court. The place of a furnace can be made out, and a mill room where the. women could grind the corn grown in the artificially-terraced lynchets in their small stone mortars. The first of these houses to be excavated was surrounded by a thick wall of masonry, six feet high, curved on the outside into a flattened oval and branching inwards to enclose a courtyard and a number of rooms each with a doorway. Other houses excavated corifinn the plan of the first. Each house was entered, and is still entered, through walls of masonry as much as 15 feet thick faced on the inner walls of the doorway with squared blocks up to eight feet wide.

Flint implements, a bracelet, a grooved hammer stone, hundreds of water-worn pebbles or sling-stones, and most interesting of all a lump of smelted tin have been found in these strange stone dwellings of one of the oldest of our national monuments, happily now in the care of the Office of Works.

Arthur Mee's King's England, Cornwall (1937). An original copyright transcription by CuriousFox, edited for identification purposes.



 
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