|A beautiful aquatint of Lamorna Cove by Geoffrey Sneyd Garnier (Penlee Museum & Gallery, Penzance)|
|Cove House (on the left with two bay windows and extension)|
|Dora makes a determined stand for modernity|
The best thing about Cove House is really its location, right down by the sea in front of the little harbour (and, necessary evil, the car park) at Lamorna Cove. You can have your feet in the sea in half a minute, or you can be sitting in the little enclosed garden in even less time. The sea performed a full repertoire for us, from emerald calm to silvery seething to foamy waves -- always mesmerising.
The whole of the Cove is privately owned and changed hands recently, causing some anxiety. Parking is very strictly overseen, although a parking place comes with the house booking (plus another one in the tiny garage, if you should happen to drive a miniature car). I have very fond memories of having the crab and fish soup at the cafe decades ago when I spent two Christmases in St Ives with my mum -- they still serve the soup but the bowl of it that I had this week wasn't the splendid rich concoction of memory (and some reviewers on TripAdvisor seem to agree with me). But times change. As do I -- against my better judgment, here are a couple of photos of me from the first time I went to Cornwall, in the mid-Eighties. Note the legwarmers...
In the postcard on the window (above), which is dated 1908, Cove House is not actually there. To begin with there were only three houses in the terrace -- Cove House was built later. You can see that the building materials are a little different in the earlier photo of the house exterior. And the little extension was built later still. This is borne out by comparing this map, from the decade of 1900-1910...
|The three houses in the terrace are just to the left of the footbridge. Although there's hard-standing for another house, there isn't actually a building there|
|Cove House has now been built and is named on the map|
Here's an old photo of Cove House before the garage extension was built:
Now here's a postcard from the Sixties, with the garage now added:
In her biography of Arnold Bennett of 1974, Margaret Drabble says that Bennett came down to Cornwall for a six-week stay in July and August 1930, right at the end of his life (he would die of typhoid from drinking tap water in Paris the following March). He came with his partner, the actress Dorothy Cheston -- they don't seem to have brought their four-year-old daughter Virginia with them. He had just finished his last (full) novel, Imperial Palace, an epic contemporary story built around the running of the Savoy Hotel. Bennett was a celebrity and there was interest in where he had chosen to spend his holiday:
|Birmingham Daily Gazette, 18 August 1930|
Although Imperial Palace was Bennett's last completed novel, when he returned to London in September (following a short cruise on a friend's yacht), he began another novel, Dream of Destiny, which he would not finish. In this, he has a character declare:
Bennett's final verdict on his Cornwall staycation (which, as far as I know, was his only visit to the county) comes in a further letter to his nephew:
|'Green Sea, Lamorna Cove' by Dame Laura Knight -- the sea was even greener than this during our stay|
|The green sea, and Porthmeor Beach, seen through the window of one of the studios in the St Ives School of Painting, last week|