Vara Neverow’s Letter of Protest Regarding Construction Plan That Would Destroy View from Talland House, PA15/04337
12 July 2015
I am writing in regard to application PA15/04337, which proposes construction of a block of flats and a car park that will block the view of the Godrevy Lighthouse from Talland House where the internationally revered author Virginia Woolf and her family resided during the summers from her infancy in 1882 until 1894, the year before her mother’s death.
These exquisitely beautiful summers in St. Ives shaped Woolf’s creative expression and was especially influential in To the Lighthouse, her 1927 masterpiece, which is one of her most famous and cherished novels. Much of the novel’s beauty and intensity is derived directly from the author’s own keen sense of place in St. Ives and her vivid memories of the glorious view of the lighthouse and the bay seen from the exact spot where Talland House still stands.
For Woolfians and other literary fans to be able see to the lighthouse itself from where Woolf herself did is an epiphany, a revelation, and a truly priceless experience. The proposed construction plan directly threatens this iconic view of the lighthouse. Preserving this stunning view of the lighthouse and the bay intact for future generations of visitors is paramount given that literary travels in the United Kingdom are source of significant revenue. However, protecting such sites is a critical not just for the tourist business but for the integral history of St. Ives itself.
Just as hundreds of fans of the Brontës make their pilgrimages to Haworth yearly, so too hundreds of Woolf scholars and readers visit St. Ives to see Talland House, to view the lighthouse from that precise location, to understand what shaped Woolf’s vision of the place, to explore the environment of St. Ives itself and to experience this intensely beautiful setting of her childhood.
In 2016 and 2017, Woolf scholars from around the world will be gathering at the Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf, held next year in Leeds and the following year in Reading. Many are already planning their trips, which will certainly include visits to St. Ives. Further, in 2018, the conference is expected to be held in Paris, and once again, many of the participants will travel to the UK and to St. Ives.
On behalf of multitudes of Woolfians and other literary pilgrims, I entreat you to honor preservation over development. When on 14 July 2015, you consider the planning application from 8 May 2015 submitted by Porthminster Beach View Ltd., please vote no and thereby protect the literary, cultural and historical heritage of St. Ives for generations to come.
Thank you for considering this appeal.
Past President, International Virginia Woolf Society
Editor, Virginia Woolf Miscellany
Professor, English and Women’s Studies
Southern Connecticut State University