Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!! and a story of Ednovean's past

Dramatic night sky and a full moon viewed through the pampas at Ednovean FArm
Charles took this great photo of the moon through the
 Pampass seed heads as we walked up to the stables
one night -to hear a spooky tale read on!

We started our B&B in 1991 and over the years we've met so many fascinating people - one that always sticks in my mind was - well lets call him PM. He was a tall and autocratic Italian Gentleman who, as he said "had the good fortune to have been wounded on the Russian front" he came to stay with us one Summer but missed our house when he arrived and continued along the lane but a little later i found he elderly man approaching holding a small leather suitcase and he was soon settled into his bedroom.

He joined us for supper that night and every evening afterwards and chatted about his life and adventures but on the third night he took off his glasses and started to polish them. Finally he said in his precise slightly accented English

"I tell you this now because you know I am a logical man. When I came to your house I missed you and went on along the lane instead. there i knocked on the door and there was no reply, so after a while, I took off my glasses and started to polish them -  this i like to do if I have a problem while i think. And there, in my glasses I saw the reflection of a woman with very dark hair parted in the middle but when I turned around, no one was there."

"Did we know of this woman at all?" he wanted to know.... well we could only say "No"  we didn't, the lady of that house was fair and we had never seen such a woman. he never saw her again.

Over the years PM stayed with us many times well into his advancing age and enjoyed a brisk stroll across the fields to Prussia cove most days but always returned to wondering if he could solve the riddle of the woman reflected in his glasses or even gain access to the house to see if there was a portrait of the lady in question but I knew that the then owners had very modern furniture the twist in this piece of information will be seen at the end - read on.....

There my story might have finished, if it were not for a chance e-mail that I receive around Christmas time one year, from a lady who had lived on the farm as a child and wanted to know if I was the Christine that she had known living at the house a long time ago. She wrote...............

"I used to live at Ednovean House with my family when I was 14     (in the 60's) with Mrs Phillips who had a grandaughter called     Christine (dad Jeffrey) who used to come to Ednovean house and sit     having her tea on the window seat. There used to be a huge painting     of a woman in Victorian dress on the wall. I wondered if you     were the same Christine. I used to feed the heifers in the barn on     your farm with a feeding bottle. I seem to remember the cottage     may have had a slate floor. Mrs Phillips (jeffreys mum) used to     knock on my bedroom door late at night with her silver white hair     plaited to show me some old letters wrapped in a blue ribbon and the     secret draw in her writing desk/dressing table. I used to call the     overgrown walled garden, The Secret Garden. I remember Ednovean had a     flag stoned dairy and I seem to remember a well in the     courtyard.I came to Ednovean about 10 years ago, but wasn't aware that     the farm had been developed. I was so happy to see that nothing     had been built in front of it. I used to walk through the field     to the village.It will always be a magical place for me. I     couldn't resist writing to you. I wish you every success." 

Of course i wasn't the Christine that she had known but a fascination corospondence sprang up  and for some reason i recalled the little anecdote abut the mysterious woman with dark hair that had haunted my guest PM's memory over the years. I was so surprised to receive an e-mail straight back saying yes of course she had heard of her

"Dear Christine and Charles
Thank you so much for your fascinating response. I have always remained spiritually close to Ednovean. Mrs Phillips and myself had a very special relationship, as the young and old so often do.One summer evening in particular remains a profound and gently haunting memory.She told me as we sat outside the old telephone room overlooking St. Michael s Mount on one of those magical summer evenings, that no matter where the path of life would lead me my heart would always be at Ednovean.... and that it would always call me back. It is indeed a very special place for me, for so many reasons.
As it is quite late at night now I will email you later in the week as I feel that I am able to shed some light on the Italian gentleman's experience. For the moment, if you are still in contact with him, please re-assure him that the woman he describes was very real. Yes indeed, it is the woman from the huge portrait that hung in the lounge...she had dark hair pulled back. I had seen her many times at  Ednovean and always passing at the bottom of the staircase ...late at night after I had been talking to Mrs Phillips. Sometimes she had a little lace cap on her head. Mrs Phillips said to me one night.....'You have seen her haven't you? From the day you arrived here, I knew you would'. There is much I could tell you and indeed I will. Because your guest experienced her, I am sure that you will not think me mad!"

The third and final e-mail was by far the most fascinating of course and I've omitted my correspondents name to protect her identity unless she chooses to tell you who she is of course!!

"Hello Christine & Charles

When I first e-mailed you about the portrait, what really stood out in my memory about it was the dark hair pulled back, just as your Italian gentleman described. The same dark pulled back hair was very strikingly visible when I used to see her late at night. She always carried some kind of oil lamp which cast shadows across the wall and over the big Grandfather clock which seemed to tick very loudly at night. This was situated next to a wall on the right of the stairs. There was also a very shiny brass warming pan which was hung on the wall next to the bottom of the stairs in the 'big house'.
The portrait that I speak of was about six feet tall and about four and a half feet wide. It was hung on the wall which attracted the best light as the oils used were quite dark in colour. I think the frame was of antique gold and quite elaborate. I am sure it was the mother of my Mrs Phillips. She wore a dark coloured dress which had buttons covered in material. There was some white lace around her neck and she was wearing a cameo broach which complemented the neckline.Her head was turned ever so slightly to one side. Her eyes looked very deep. I would stare at this portrait for a long time and wherever I stood in the room she always seemed to be looking at me.I went down stairs when it was a full moon because it used to illuminate the portrait if I pulled the curtains back. I was convinced that she was smiling at me. She had the same intense gaze as my Mrs Phillips who seemed to be lost in her own world at times. She would fall silent as though she was reflecting upon something that was very sad. It was at these times that she would ask me to go and get the silver backed bristle hair brush. She would spend a long time brushing my hair, and then putting a blue bow into it. I would fidget sometimes and she would say, 'Keep still child!' She was the most wonderful lady. She would tell me about the flat rock on Perranuthnoe beach that she used to picnic on in her younger days. She asked me to go to the beach one day to see if it was how she remembered it. Indeed, it was still there just as she said...and she seemed delighted. I am not sure what happened to her husband as she had been a widow for well over twenty years years. Looking back, and the letters that she would show me seem to suggest that he may have been killed in the war. I could not make out the writing very well and the ink was very faded. I do know that when we went to live with her (I have worked it out more accurately now) it was in 1959. She had not left Ednovean for well over twenty years, absolutely refusing to go even a far as the village through the field, or down the lane. It was my mother, who died at quite a young age who persuaded to go. I remember watching them both walk through the field. I went to the barn to see the newborn heifers. I kept wondering what memories the walk to the village would bring to the forefront of her memory.
One night I asked her who rode the horses on a Sunday. She said it was Leone Hall, who lived nearby. She then told me a story about the the sound of horses hooves walking in the lane late at night. She said she could here them quite distinctly, then they would suddenly stop when she went to try and see it. There was a legend in the village about a black horse that saved someone's life on the farm many many years ago, and that the horse, although long gone came back to Ednovean where it was born.
There was also some history around a male at Ednovean (perhaps a relative) who used to travel the world and light his cigars with five pound nights in the second dining area that we used. There were certainly many heavily carved tables, chairs, and wooden chests in that room.
Sadly,some years after we left the big house news came to me of a fire there, which had been very intense, and a great deal of Ednovean's history was destroyed in the flames. I have seen it as a hotel, but the imagery of how it used to be stays with me. Keep in touch
Kind Regards

My story must end now for the time being,  I'm afraid I lost touch with E and one year PM didn't come to Cornwall again but as he spent much of his year in Italy travelling restlessly we knew the day would come - he was in is early 80's when he first came to stay with us after all.  Still, One day I'm sure some more information will come my way and when it does I'll write again!!