Archive for the ‘St. Ives’ Category

Virginia Woolf common reader Nell Toemen was visiting St. Ives this week and sent Blogging Woolf the accompanying photo of Talland House, where local residents Chris and Angela Roberts are sprucing up the garden.

For more on visiting St. Ives, see In Her Steps.

Talland House, St. Ives, Cornwall

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View of Porthminster Beach while walking to Talland House, June 2004

Last September Ratha Tep, a contributing writer for the New York Times Footsteps column, emailed me. She was looking for answers to questions and names of people to contact concerning Virginia Woolf and St. Ives.

Her piece, “In Search of Virginia Woolf’s Lost Eden in Cornwall,” appeared online today and will be in the March 4 print edition. It is marvelous, full of history, love for Woolf as a literary and feminist pioneer, and touring tips for St. Ives and Cornwall that connect us to Virginia’s experiences there.

It also provides an optimistic update about the apartment complex to be built below Talland House that threatened the view and elicited protests from Woolfians around the globe nearly three years ago.

Connecting to the Tate exhibit

Tep’s travelogue is quite timely as well, connecting to the Tate St. Ives exhibit, “Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings.” Sadly, that show ends April 29, nearly two months before many of us will be in England for the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

I visited St. Ives in 2004, taking the six-hour train ride on the Great Western Railway, visiting Talland House — where we were invited in by the woman who occupied the first floor flat — and traipsing around the charming town.

I have not been back since then. After reading Tepp’s piece, my desire to return is stronger than ever.

Long an admirer of this modernist literary pioneer, not only for how Woolf redefined the possibilities of the novel but, for the simple reason that no other writer has given me, sentence for sentence, such pleasure, I decided to go in search of Woolf in her early years. – Ratha Tep, NYT

Porthminster Beach, June 2004

St. Ives Bay, with Godrevy Island and lighthouse in the distance, June 2004

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Encouraging news has arrived from the UK. The proposed development that threatened to destroy Virginia Woolf’s view Godrevy Lighthouseof Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House, has stalled.

The move comes after Woolf scholars and common readers from around the globe raised an outcry using email, social media and the Web. Their efforts generated media coverage that included the BBC and resulted in the Cornwall Council Planning Committee postponing its decision on the project.

Now a helpful source from Cornwall Council emailed this news to Woolf scholar Maggie Humm:  “The application has been affected by the affordable housing changes…at this stage the application is not likely to go to the planning committee.”

Here’s what this means. In November 2014, the Conservative (Tory) Party ruled that developments of 10 or less could avoid paying an affordable-housing levy or offering any such housing in their development.  Humm said this provision offered licence for any developer.

In early August, the High Court threw out this legislation, so the developer of the St. Ives project, which included a six-story block of six flats and a car park to be constructed in front of Talland House, must rethink the economic viability of the project and resubmit it.

In addition, a local resident forwarded Blogging Woolf an email from English Heritage saying legislation includes a provision to “avoid harm to the setting of a listed building if it contributes to the significance of the building.” Talland House is considered Grade II, which means it is “nationally important and of special interest.  The St. Ives resident cited National Planning Framework Section 12 paras. 128,9,132 and noted that he would add this information to the planning comments page for the project, PA15/04337.

Woolf and her family summered at Talland House for the first 12 years of her life. The lighthouse she could see from her summer home plays an integral role in her famous novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Plus here is more good news that indicates the St. Ives Town Council may be taking the preservation of local history more seriously: The Council recently voted down a different application to build on an ancient site.

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Godrevy LighthouseWill Godrevy Lighthouse, an icon of literature thanks to Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse, be put on the auction block? Or will it be taken over by the Gwinear-Gwithian Parish Council? No one knows for sure.

Tuesday, operator Trinity House said it would keep the lighthouse, which sits on its own island near Hayle. Even though the light does not function, the towering white structure serves as a daytime visual aid for mariners. And it is considered a key element of the area’s heritage. It is said to be one of the most photographed Cornish landmarks.

Godrevy was built in 1858 and 1859 on the largest rock of the Stones reef. The lighthouse lies 980 ft off Godrevy Head in St. Ives Bay. The beach at  St. Ives has been named among the UK’s top 10.

Read more about Godrevy Lighthouse

Godrevy going modern, July 10, 2012

Woolf sightings: When Virginia went to the lighthouse, Nov. 22, 2011



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Virginia Woolf spent summers at Talland House in St. Ives, Cornwall, until her mother, Julia Stephen died in 1895. And her novel To the Lighthouse (1927) was inspired by Godrevy Lighthouse, which she could see from her summer home.

So when I read the news that Godrevy Lighthouse will replace its winking white dual beam light with modern LEDs, I was prompted to do some ambling around the Web.

In the process, I found photos of St. Ives that date from the 1890s to the 1940s. Take a look at these  old photos of St. Ives. I promise you will be charmed.

And while you are at it, view color film footage of the harbor and streets of St. Ives, Cornwall, and of the streets of London in 1924, during Woolf’s time. You can get the back story on this project and watch the video here.

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Godrevy Lighthouse is going modern. The winking white dual beam of the 19th-century inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse will soon have a more limited range when its powerful light is replaced with 21st-century LEDs.

The 12-nautical-mile range of the light on the 153-year-old structure will decrease by one-third when the cost-cutting move to LED lights is made. Instead of being installed in the top of the lighthouse, the LED lights will be located adjacent to the structure.

The 153-year-old lighthouse is perched on Stones Reef at the northern point of St. Ives Bay, a stony reef that was responsible for a number of shipwrecks — some fatal — before the lighthouse was built in 1858-59.

Its octagonal tower, which rises 86 feet, was originally manned by three light-keepers who lived in an adjoining cottage before the light was automated in 1936. In 1995, the switch was made to solar power, so I am unsure why LEDs will be more cost-effective and efficient.

However, a spokeswoman called the new lights “superior” and said, “The new structure will mean less frequent maintenance visits which will reduce the overheads for providing this aid to navigation.”

Read more on Woolf, Godrevy and St. Ives:

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Love art? Love Woolf? Love a beach vacation? Visit St. Ives.

Seven years ago, I spent a delectable two days in the Cornwall town where Virginia Woolf spent her summers as a child. I still dream of going back. It truly is a magical place.

Today’s piece in The Daily Mail will give you lots of details about art on display, art lessons, and other sights in St. Ives.

Places to see include:

I also recommend browsing in the local charity shops. At St. Julia’s Hospice Charity Shop, I found treasures ranging from a collection of German hiking staff shields to framed prints of the English countryside to books with full-color photos of English sites — all for a pittance.

For more on St. Ives, read:

Seeing St. Ives and London in Woolf’s time

Spring break on the beach at St. Ives

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