The Penwith Papers

Scientific Sunbathing at Polgigga

In 1937, a man came to spend a holiday at Polgigga, near St Levan. As far as we know, he was an entirely ordinary man except for one thing: he believed in "scientific sunbathing". His name was Joshua Dawe.

One day, as he walked up the hill out of St Levan enjoying the sunshine to the full, he had the misfortune to meet local resident Mrs Rawlings. And, shortly afterwards, he found himself in court. He pleaded not guilty to Indecent Exposure, his lawyer deploying the novel argument that Porthgwarra was not a public place. But this ingenuity was no match for the excited Mrs Rawlings, who explained her shock when he turned round to face her, then followed her along the road, wearing only his socks.

"He just stood there facing me" Mrs Rawlings testified, then "followed me, mumbling to himself". The defence lawyer tried to claim that Mr Dawe was horrified to have shocked Mrs Rawlings, and was merely trying to apologise and explain. But his efforts were all in vain, especially after the court heard how Mr Dawe had been carrying a stick. "I thought he might biff me one" confided Mrs Rawlings, who had been so overcome with shock that she had gone straight to her friend Mrs Hall's house for a reviving cup of tea.

On hearing about the incident when he got home from work, Mrs Rawlings' husband Walter (who may have been a relative of Billy Rawlings, the gardener at the Minack) called round to confront the visitor, asking him "what sort of game he was playing". At this point Mr Dawe added insult to injury by asking the aggrieved husband, "Don't you believe in living in an advanced world?" Mr Rawlings replied rather shortly that he did not. And neither, evidently, did Colonel Malone and the other magistrates. Mr Dawe - who had a bit of form - was fined £5.

Source: Cornishman 16th June 1937 page 8

The Penwith Papers:

Penwith Local History Group
The Penwith Papers:

Growing Up in West Cornwall. A Publication by the Penwith Local History Group

"Growing Up in West Cornwall"

Edited by
Sally Corbet

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