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The Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

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St Gerrans & Portscatho O C S




President: Mrs Hilary Thompson, Chenoweth, 1 The Quay, Portscatho, TR2 5HF. Tel: 01872-580573.


Chairman: Mr Ralph German, Pen-Michael, St Just-in-Roseland, TR2 5JB. Tel: 01326-270558.


Secretary: Mrs Denise Coomb, 4 Treventon Close, Portscatho, TR2 5UP. Tel: 01872-580728. Email: decoomb@btinternet.com


Membership Secretary: Mrs Jean Rigley, Bramble Cottage, Ruanhighlanes, Truro, TR2 5LH.


Treasurer: Mrs Margaret George, Ruan House, Tregassick Road, Gerrans, Portscatho, TR2 5ED.


Recorder:  Neville Meek,   31 Gwarak gwel an Mor, Portscatho, Truro, TR2 5AF.  Phone  01872 581817.


Dialect Recorder:


Two Federation Delegates: Peter-Messer Bennetts voluntarily sometimes + vacant




email contact




A very small group formed St Gerrans & Porthscatho Old Cornwall Society in 1976,

but since that time the Society has grown considerably.


Membership for the season is £7.50


Visitors are welcome at any meeting for a small fee (£2.50)

















We have undertaken studies of the stiles of various parishes

in Roseland


Volume I. Cornish Stiles in the Roseland - St Gerrans, 1997   SOLD OUT


Volume II. Cornish Stiles in the Roseland - Philleigh and St Just in Roseland 1999-2000

Price £3 + p&p


Volume II is still available from the Peter Messer-Bennetts 36 Treventon Road, Portscatho,

Truro TR2 5DX  01872 580540  






Meeting Reports


12th October 2016


The Society’s AGM was followed by a talk by David Pollard on The History of the Falmouth Packets. He prefaced his talk with a brief history of the development of land communication within the UK, which ultimately led to the need for a regulated system for carrying despatches not only by land but also overseas. In the 16th century Henry VIII set up the Royal Mail in order that his despatches could be carried countrywide. Through the Stuart and Commonwealth periods the operation became the General Post Office, which could carry mails not only from the Crown but also from members of the general public.

In 1689 Falmouth was chosen as the base for the packet ships, which were to carry the mails first to neighbouring European ports and soon after to North and South America. In Falmouth’s favour was its safe anchorage at the western tip of the country. There were disadvantages, however, always present due to the poor state of the roads and the time it took for mails to reach the capital. Initially there was rivalry between Flushing and Falmouth to be the shore base: a dispute between the families of Trefusis in Flushing and Killigrew in Falmouth, which was soon won by Falmouth.

The packet ships were generally two-masted brigs with a complement of 30. They were armed, a necessity as they were frequently exposed to privateering by both French and American vessels. If captured their ships were impounded and the crew imprisoned. At first the packets were individually owned and under contract to the Post Office. Packet captains were able to enrich themselves. Their prosperity is still to be seen, particularly in Flushing, where they built themselves substantial villas.

In 1823 the service was taken over by the Royal Navy and so continued until 1851. By this time the railway had replaced road transport, though unfortunately for Falmouth did not arrive in time to save the service there. The mails were now carried from ports up channel, nearer to London and for sailing vessels their days were numbered as steam ships took their place on the high seas.





9th November 2016 at the Portscatho Parish Memorial Hall


Guest Speaker Keith Pearce presentation on ‘The Jews of Cornwall’, a History, Tradition and Settlements to 1913

Mr Pearce spoke with great passion on this little researched subject. Jews arrived in Cornwall in the 1740’s. A small number disembarked at Falmouth, and one or two at Fowey only to move on promptly to London and elsewhere in England. Others arrived in Cornwall mainly from Continental Europe – Poland and Russia. He analysed the place of Jews in Cornish folklore, and distinguished the Cornish Jews from the indigenous Cornish Gentiles who adopted Hebrew names, but were not known to have been of Cornish descent. In the main the identities, occupations and commercial contribution of those Jews who lived in Cornwall in the 18th and 19th centuries and who settled in Cornwall’s southern ports of Falmouth, Penzance and Truro as well as in Redruth and St. Austell were presented in detail. A lot of information was gained from comprehensive family trees, biographies, public records and membership of civic organisations such as Free Masonry.

All of the Rabbis known to have served in Falmouth and Penzance have been identified; some like Rabbi B. A. Simmons lived in the county for 50 years. Of Jewish Burial Grounds nationally there are only 25 existing Georgian ones outside London that predate the early 19th century.  Seven of these burial grounds are to be found in the West Country. Of these, Penzance Cemetery has been recognised as best preserved and it is Grade ll listed. The last burials of members of the congregation were of Bessie Joseph in 1900 and the family of one of the last Rabbis,  Isaac Bischofwerder who were interred between 1880 and 1911.

For those wishing to know more about this fascinating subject Keith Pearce has written a comprehensive book called ‘The Jews in Cornwall’.





           11th January 2017


The first meeting of the new year was a talk on winemaking in Cornwall. Our speaker was Adrian Derx the proprietor of Knightor Wines.  He began his winemaking in Cornwall in 2007, with fields bought at Downderry and Portscatho and planting 6000 vines in the former and 9000 in the latter.  Choosing the sites is important as they must be South facing and reasonably sheltered.  The vines are planted on the trellis system and trained on wires. The first year the vines are planted there is no yield.  The second year pruning and shaping takes place.  The third , fourth and Ffifth years cropping begins , with hopefully the fifth year bringing a reasonable crop.

Grape varieties which are grown are mostly Pinot varieties, Gris and Noir and what is called precos.  There are also some German Riesling, from which their vermouth is made. Grapes have to bought in’ from other specialised growers not all in Cornwall as the 2 vineyards do not produce sufficient  of any variety.Most of the wine produced is white, and  some sparkling is made.  Rose is a speciality. Temperatures in Cornwall do not generally reach the higher level to produce decent reds.

The Knightor brand developed from the purchase of  derelict farm buildings of that name  near Treburgie, This has developed in to a vinery and restaurant.  It is conveniently placed roughly halfway between the two vineyards and also near to  the Eden project. Mr Derx explained that to keep the Cornish brand to the fore they have produced wine bottle labels , based on early maps of the area with the relevant vineyard pinpointed. Members finished the evening with an opportunity to taste a Knightor Rose.  Mr Derx hopes to repeat the wine tasting evenings of last year when other wines will be available.





St Gerrans and Porthscatho Old Cornwall Society 40th Anniversary Celebration


On Wednesday 14th Dec. the Old Cornwall Society celebrated its 40th anniversary with a social event in the Memorial Hall.

Hilary Thompson the society President gave an overview of the setting up of the society and how there had been peaks and troughs with membership and speakers over the intervening years. Hilary has been a stalwart member of the society and spearheaded many projects, the reinstating of the coffin in St Anthony church yard and the enhancement of the village pump in Portscatho to name but two of the many interesting undertakings carried out.

We were honoured to have the company of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies President, Priscilla Oates. Priscilla said she saw her role as that of a supporter, encourager, innovator and also to drive the society forward into 20th Century. The society is looking at ways to link in with other societies with common interests which would be advantageous to all parties.

The entertainment was provided by Hevva, a group of experienced dancers and musicians who enjoy displaying, teaching and promoting Cornish dance and music. Hevva wore the traditional costume including the “Gook” or headgear of which there are many designs depending on the area they had worked. The dancing was intricate and energetic, some of the braver members of the audience joined in with their final dance!

A superb buffet was provided by the Hidden Hut to round off an excellent evening to celebrate 40 interesting and informative years of Cornish history.












Founded: 1976


Colours: Saffron, Black & White





St Gerrans Programme 2016 - 2017