Highlights of Poddington & Environs
Tewiff Rail Station
The Tewiff Train Station--still referred to as 'The New Station'
by the locals, though it has stood upon a spot on the bluff high
above the town of Tewiff-by-Sea since the old station's thatched
roof caught fire twenty years before--is a functional brick building
housing the ticket desk and station master's offices. A large
fireplace, merrily crackling with a fire when cold weather is
outside, sits at one end of the rectangular lobby, and a number
of benches have been placed to accommodate waiting passengers.
The view out the back window of the station shows the rails
and the boarding sheds, dusty from coal and sand. If you were
to look out the front window, you would see the bluff overlooking
the coastal town of Tewiff-By-Sea, a small town huddled around
a half-moon harbour.
The baytop road, as it is locally known, traverses the broad
granite headlands overlooking the crescent-moon shaped town of
Tewiff-By-Sea. A popular spot with tourists, Tewiff's famed white
houses and businesses appear, from this vantage spot, to tumble
down the hill to the semi-circular sea bay below you. The town
always appears to be busy, save by dead of night. Its people,
tiny insects from this height, walk busily through its streets
and along its many docks.
The road continues around the circumference of the bluff,
gradually winding down to sea level at the westernmost side.
Tewiff's train station stands at the broadest section of this
The Tin Mine on
A mile to the west of the village, south of the trade road, an
abandoned tin mine sits in the center of this rocky clearing,
its luminescent stones ominous by day and barely visible by night.
The roofless building surrounding the deep carved hole in the
earth is two stories high, perhaps only ten feet wide, and built
of white limestone. Two arched windows at the top, and the battered
door leading in, give the building the appearance of a mournful
This place seems melancholy year round.
Inside this shell of a building, the walls seem close and
claustrophobic. The sky is visible where once was a roof.The
ground is littered with bricks. Old machinery, rusted past recognition,
moulders in the corners. Weeds have grown rampant in the dust,
only half-hiding the discarded rubbish of country tramps.
A quarter mile to the south of the mine lies majestic Religan
Tor, an ancient hill of granite jutting sharply up from the earth.
The ancient inhabitants of Cornwall erected Religan Tor one of
Wildcombe Moor's treasures, a stack of flat, smooth stones piled
atop each other in a mass reminiscent of a skull. It is difficult
to see why the stones have not shifted, or fallen, over the years,
and why these iron age ancestors would take so much effort to
arrange these heavy, unwieldy rocks in such a fashion.
Atop this hill of granite, the moors below seem vast and distant.
A susurrus from the moors--the whisperings of the grasses and
weeds--constantly fills the air.
Someone has gone to the effort to carve a hole in the flat
stretch atop the Tor. The circular bore is perhaps three inches
deep, and is just wide enough to admit a pike, or a hoe handle.
Faint scratchings are carved in the rock nearby.
Once an empty lane leading to the countryside, Poddington's Market
Street has grown somewhat during the forty years since the fire
that consumed its neighbour, Acorn Lane. Several small cozy stores
have relocated here.
At its far end, the Market Street turns from its meandering
northwesterly direction to head westwards, away from the village
and towards the sea.
Only a few buildings remain on Acorn Lane since the mysterious
fire of forty years ago. Lilacs flank the spot where the lane
meets the road around the village green. The ruins of the burned
buildings are overgrown with withered, dried weeds, and tall
oaks loom over the ancient stone wall surrounding the church
graveyard lining the street's northern side. A sweet stillness
always hangs over the tiny lane, almost melancholy in its cold
and windy solitude.
A tiny lending library sits across from Diva Stedman's tea
house, near the lane's lilacs, while Mrs. Lovett runs a boarding
house that sits near the ruins. No other houses clutter this
Diva's Tea House
Godiva Stedman has transformed the spacious front rooms of her
family's house into a tea parlour, open daily. Brightly appointed
with gay muslin curtains and linen tablecloths of a not-too-shabby
quality, the tea house has become the gathering place for many
of the village matrons.
Pots of steaming coffee sits near the blazing fire, inviting
patrons to partake of its contents to combat the cold temperatures
outside. The room is always full of tantalizing smells.
Diva does not seem to need the money from her business, for her
lavish buffet seems to cost rather more than the few shillings
she asks. Rather, she seems to crave a house full of company.
Usually her brother Giles, fond of a bit of crumpet, can be found
here, flirting with the women of the village.
A planchette sits upon one table, and a baize door separates
a private seance room from the rest of the house. The kitchen
lies behind a swinging door, and Mrs. Stedman's private quarters
Letitia Farnsworth's lending library seems less oppressive during
the daylight hours. Once a glorious Jacobean inn, the building
now reeks of damp, dust, and old books. The room's narrow windows
are clogged by the thick-growing vines of ivy, which rattle the
panes from time to time with the breezes. A draught of cold air
always blows from underneath the old door, even in warm weather.
The main room of the library is simply crammed with books--tattered
books, preserved books, old books, older books than that, and
any number of leather-bound journals and sermons. Many are stuffed
haphazardly into Victorian bookcases. Most, however, are stacked
on tables, on cabinets, in corners, and on Letitia's desk. Letitia's
assistant, Prudence Buttock can often be found here during the
This field is at the center of the village, surrounded by trees
on three sides. The high tower of the church of St. Athenasius
looms over the green here, and the church walls run along much
of the green's western expanse.
A number of quaint stocks sit at the northernmost edge of
the rectangular green. The last historical record of their use
is from the early nineteenth century, when serving maid Flora
Budd was imprisoned in them for two days for stealing a silver
At the green's foot sprawls the irregularly shaped pool known
for decades upon decades as the Ducking Pond. Several ducks can
always be found perching about its edge.
The public house known as the Languishing Apple sits near
Apple Public House
The public room of the Languishing Apple sets the standard for
a village pub. A huge bar, stocked with whiskeys and other liquors,
spreads across the wall opposite to the door. The centre of the
room is taken up by a loomingly large discussion table, while
there seems to be sundry other tables scattered around the room
in plain view. The Languishing Apple has its fair share of fine
Cornish treats available to tempt your taste buds. The liquors
are equally as good, and a few local drinks are available on
Two small windows, plain and narrow, look out upon the peaceful,
dark village green.
The Apple has rooms to let for the overnight visitor.
The Church of
A quaint and very old graveyard surrounds the church, protected
by a wall of brick mounted with iron finials. The interior of
the church is architecturally stark. The high ceilings rise in
graceful, unelaborate arches to high windows of primitive stained
glass. Above the entrance of the church shines the Rose Window,
miraculously undamaged through the centuries. The altar sits
at the other end of the vaguely cross-shaped interior, and a
Victorian organ and choir stalls, plainly comparatively recent
additions, sit in the left arm.
St. Athenasius Church's rood screen is known to be one of
the finest in Cornwall--and certainly one of the oldest, having
been one of the few that survived the dissolution of the monasteries.
Carved from oak, its procession of saints and its stately arches
frame the altar area. The silver communion chalice, one of the
treasures of the church, is kept in a locked enclosure in the
altar area. The date on the door informs you that the chalice
is over three hundred and fifty years old.
The church tower contains a number of antique bells, and a
mechanism that causes them to toll every quarter hour.
A late addition to the church is a mural
by John Frallis. It had traditionally been covered in muslin,
to protect village eyes from its sensual images.
of Saint Athenasius: The Reliquary
A rickety ladder in the church tower leads down to the reliquary.
Here, in the oldest remaining section of the original church,
the dank coolness smells of earth and damp. A single gas lantern
hanging from an iron hook in the ceiling provides the only illumination
in this hollowed-out chamber. Although the ancient slate floor
is flat and even, the walls of this underground shrine are but
earth and rock. At one end of the room, a rudimentary gate surrounds
an opening in the floor that leads to the crypts below.
At the center of the chamber, like a grotesque mushroom pushing
its way from the earth, sits the reliquary of St. Athenasius.
A man-sized tomb topped with a sculpted supine figure with hands
held together in prayer, the reliquary is niched with miniature
alcoves, each containing the figure of a saint. Time has worn
away the details of the stones, leaving only ghostly shapes caught
in melancholy mannered poses. Many locals still kiss the reliquary
The Church of
Saint Athenasius: The Crypts
Deeper still beneath the church, accessed by a hole in the reliquary,
are the crypts. The ancient crypts of St. Athenaseus outdate
the church itself, illuminated by a flickering lamp in one corner.
Deep in their cold depths lie the preserved mummies of hundreds
of village ancestors. Unlike the camphor-smelling, glass-encased
mummies of the British museum, however, these ages-old remains
have been preserved only by some peculiar salts or chemicals
in the walls of earth around them.
The biers of the dead are stacked high to the ceiling; skeletons
lie frozen with the flesh hardened on their bones, their long
dry hair hanging to either side of their brown, desiccated faces,
grotesque ribbons of bone flashing where their dried skin has
pulled back from their teeth and eye sockets . . . skeletons
arrayed still in mouldering grave-clothes, their skeletal fingers
still arrayed with leathery skin. In one corner lies the pitiful
dried body of a small child hung up by the hair.
The DeWinter Estate, once called Barleymeade, is a gray and malevolent
outcropping of stone in the midst of a cleared patch spiky, forbidding
timber. The forest lies thick around the grounds. Few in the
village visit the estate regularly, though most attend the annual
Midwinter Ball in order to view the stately, but always chilly
ballroom and its famous whispering gallery above. The house contains
an extensive library and a disused orangerie, as well as an assortment
of private chambers, servant's chambers, and reception rooms.
The gardens at the back of the house are highlighted by a high-growing
hedge maze. Beyond the walls of the estate, deep in the forest,
is an ancient stone fortress.
The Stone Quarry
Carved deep into Cornwall's heart of granite at the edge of the
moors, this quarry is older than all other marks of man for miles
around. It is said that stones from this very quarry were removed
by the ancient Goths for their fortifications, which spread far
to the south. The ancient fortress on the grounds of the DeWinter
Estate, though long decrepit, was built from this very quarry,
so the story goes, and it was that same fortress, built so strong,
and so well, by the primitives, which was among the last to fall
to the Roman invaders.
Not much activity takes place under these clear, quiet skies,
as today's building tastes lean toward imported masonry, or cheap
imitation stones. But the quarry sometimes is visited by the
occasional mason who knows the value of his stone--a stone somewhat
scarce now, with a pale pink vein said to bring good tidings
from the wee folk when it was incorporated into a new fence or
The road from the south here narrows to a dirt track as it
winds down to the verdant moors to the west. The river Slossip
to the northeast is obscured by hillside.
The Stone Glade
Perched where the moors rise to overlook the lazy Slossip, a
half-circle of seven large uneven and unmatched granite stones,
strangely dark and imposing, even at the height of the day, stands
silent sentinel. Each twice the height of a man, the stones'
origins are bathed in mystery. Some old-timers claim this is
a secret place where druids once worshiped. Others, those more
practically minded, state that glaciation is probably responsible
for the stones' erratic positioning.
This glade of stones seems in a way an even more primitive
version of Stonehenge, but the stones themselves seem too immovable
and oddly-shaped to have been moved here by human hands. People
of the village often attribute strange happenings to this place.
A few steps west of the westernmost stone is an ancient stone
well, many times the scene of tragedy. Small children and animals,
heedless of the danger, have fallen down its depths, never to
be seen again. It is reputed to be bottomless; certainly, no
one has ever managed to measure its entire length. Nor has anyone
ever been able to board up this gaping hole, obscured as it is
by the high grasses. All attempts to make the area safe have
failed, for within days, the boards have rotted through. Some
villagers write their wishes on scraps of paper and drop it down
The path passing through this dry, cold clearing on this edge
of the moors ambles from the east up one of the stone age mounds
to the north. You can spy footprints in the dust around you.
The Stone Age
This quiet section of Wildcombe Moor, too hilly and rugged to
allow any roads or large homes, is always quiet and picturesque.
To the immediate north, the strangely shaped Cat's Tor dominates
The stone age inhabitants of these lands along the River Slossip
long ago erected a line of grassy mounds as a memorial--though
to what, no one knows. Tall, grassy Mouse Lane Hill to the south
dominates the other mounds, though the Cat's Tor is nearly as
Magnusson College, a provincial institution established during
the early reign of Queen Victoria, sits in a quiet valley among
the countryside's gentle hills, surrounded on three sides by
dense forest. The buildings look tentative, even make-shift,
in the lush, rural atmosphere. The structure known as Memorial
Hall, for example, started as a tiny college chapel, and after
many mid-century additions reached its present form as a monstrous,
many-turreted gothic revival nightmare. The college library,
once an ancient armory, is a large plain, octagonal building.
Many of the students live in Burleigh Hall, a hulk of rough pink
stone at the edge of the commons.
The college buildings are linked by an underground network
of access tunnels, and though forbidden to students and dons
alike, they serve to allow access to the buildings after the
college porter closes them for the evening.
The center of the campus, always busy with students going
about their afternoon activities, is decorated with a small fountain.
A cobbled road leads villageward through an ancient orchard
into the forest, while a larger, much-travelled avenue leads
This tiny cove, a mile's distance from the college, is popular
with the students. Tall, unclimbable headlands of granite here
project northeast and northwest into the ocean. They hold within
their arms a triangular wedge of cove, its sands sparkling and
perfectly white, opening wide and spreading down to the shoals
of the sea. The sea winds billow up the gently sloping sands,
while the waves lap the rocks.