Tuesday, 11 January 2011


It takes a special place to inspire a person to change their name to that placename. The painter Samuel John Birch was so captivated by this small cove in West Cornwall that he changed his name to Lamorna Birch. He was one of a number of artists associated with the Newlyn School who settled here around the turn of the century. With such an artistic pedigree, Lamorna is the perfect place for an arts festival. The Lamorna Arts Festival in the autumn showcases the work of the Lamorna Valley Group and includes an exhibition, open studios, poetry, open gardens and an art raffle.

My own memories of Lamorna are centered around the Easter festivities. When I was growing up in West Cornwall, my friends and I used to take part in the annual Good Friday walk from Penzance to Lamorna. There was a suitably religious background to this walk, the distance – 5 miles – being roughly equivalent to the distance covered by Jesus on his way to the cross. However, our conduct on the walk was often less than religious, full of teenage high jinx.

There is a famous Cornish song featuring Lamorna. Here is the first verse:

So now I'll sing to you, it's about a maiden fair
I met the other evening at the corner of the square;
She'd a dark and roving eye, and her hair hung to her shoulder,
We rolled all night in the pale moonlight away down to Lamorna

Map of the area.

'Lamorna cove. Cornwall. 2011' photo (c) 2011, Martyn Wright - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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