On this Day 21st September 1928

Bards Meet at Boscawen-Un for First Time in 1000 Years.

The Stone Circle of Boscawen-Un, about four miles from Penzance in the direction of Land's End, will tomorrow afternoon be the scene of a remarkable gathering.

The Gorsedd of the Bards of Britain will revisit the Circle after a lapse of at least 1,000 years…………..

The object of this visit, which will link the life of to-day with that of the time of the ancient Cornish Kings, is to inaugurate a Cornish Gorsedd which shall foster the Celtic spirit of Cornwall.

Henry Jenner of Hayle, invested as Grand Bard of Cornwall 21 September 1928 (photo: Gosedh Kernow)So the Western Morning News of 20 September 1928 announced the revival of the Cornish Gorsedh. (Gorsedh is the Cornish, Gorsedd is the spelling used in 1928 by the newspapers and also used in Wales while in Brittany it is Goursez).

On the 22nd September the same paper reported on the actual events which had taken place at Boscawen-Un. The ceremonies were described in some detail including the investiture of the Grand Bard, Henry Jenner who welcomed the Gorsedd of Wales to the ceremonies saying that their presence was “a marked recognition of Cornwall as a sister Celtic nation.”

The list of Bards Elect invested at Boscawen-Un makes for interesting reading:

  • Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, described as “the most distinguished of living Cornish literary men”, Q remains a well-known figure today, not least for his monumental Oxford Book of English Verse 1250 – 1900. Bardic name: Marghak Cough (Red Knight)
  • A.K. Hamilton Jenkin, secretary of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies and still one of the best known of Cornwall's historians. Bardic name: Lef Stenoryon (Voice of the Tinners)
  • John Coulson Tregarthen, president of the Royal Institution of Cornwall and distinguished naturalist who took the bardic name Mylgarer (Lover of Animals)
  • Rev. Canon Thomas Taylor, Vicar of St Just and authority of Cornish history and archaeology, editor of the Cornish Domesday and much else. Bardic name: Gwas Ust (Servant of St Just)
  • Charles Henderson, Cornish antiquarian and historian. Like A.K.H.J., familiar to many today because of the vast collection of archival material left in public hands. Bardic name: Map Hendra (Son of the Old Town)
  • William Tregoning Hooper, authority on Cornish wrestling but perhaps better known today as the man instrumental in saving the 1840 steam whim at Levant Mine from the scrapman. Bardic name: Bras e. Golon (Great-hearted)
  • John Dryden Hoskin, Cornish poet. Bardic name: Caner Helles (Singer of Helston)
  • Herbert Thomas, journalist and remembered now as a great editor of The Cornishman. Bardic name: Barth Colonnek (Enthusiastic Bard)
  • James Thomas, Camborne postman, folklorist and collector of flint implements. Bardic name: Tas Cambron (Father of Camborne)
  • Michael Cardew, potter and student of the Cornish language. Bardic name: Myghal an Pry (Michael of the Clay)
  • George Sloggett, President of the Cardiff Cornish Association. Bardic name: Gwas Petrok (Servant of Petrock)
  • Edgar Rees, hon. Organising Secretary of the Cornish Gorsedh and historian of Penzance. Bardic name: Karer Losow (Lover of Plants)

Unable to be present for investiture were: Richard John Noall, antiquarian and founder of the St Ives Old Cornwall Society, the first society to be formed; Rev. Mark Guy Pearse, Cornish poet and writer; and Richard Hall of Durban.

The Procession to Boscawen-Un, as John Motson might have said, "the bards and initiates are wearing blue". (Morrab Library) 

The Procession to Boscawen-Un, as John Motson might have said, "the bards and initiates are wearing blue". (Morrab Library) 

1928 saw Cornish fortunes at a low ebb, unemployment and poverty were rife as the mining industry continued to shrink, mines closed and nothing replaced them. Miners and their families had left in droves. As the population dwindled and the economy shrank confidence and dynamism, the characteristics which had energised the ebullient Cornwall of the previous 200 years, also faded. A void was created and the revival of the Cornish Gorsedh was one attempt to fill the void and recreate a sense of identity and purpose. It has to be admitted, it's not to everyone's taste, but through thick and thin it has survived, the Cornish language is resurgent and Cornish Minority Status – Salva Minoryta Kernewek – is now recognised under the Framework Convention of the Protection of National Minorities. But protection can only ever be a short-term solution so let's hope that by 2020, when the centenary of the Gorsedh comes around, the dynamism and confidence is back and the future holds more than King Arthur's theme park and National Trust shops.

Kernow bys Vyken!

Sources

Western Morning News 20 September 1928

Western Morning News 22 September 1928

The Gorsedh Kernow

 




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