by Bernard Rogers.
It always intrigued me that when I was young and at school, all our school World maps showed Cornwall, and Rosenithon slap bang in the middle, which is as it should be, of course. Our family went from here all over the World. The name Rosenithon means "Nest in the moors". When I was born here in 1925, there were just seven very small farm holdings, one fisherman and a few quarrymen"s cottages.
Starting from the St Keverne end, the first house was my grandfather's.
When he died, before my memories began, it was occupied by Uncle Bert.
The next cottage, where I live now, was owned by my father, James or Jim.
Next, behind the letter box, lived Cap'n Dick Rogers, with his son Lory, who took over on his marriage.
Down at the bottom of the hill was, and is, Chenale Farm, owned at that time by Joe Mathews. Up the hill again, Charlie Rogers lived in the little bungalow on the right just below the thatched cottage, Godrevy Cottage, where lived George Trip, a fisherman. That cottage was divided in two, with the other half occupied by William John Uren, a quarryman. Up again to the cottage on the corner where lived Jimmy Dennis, engineer at the quarry.
Turning towards Porthoustock, were the three cottages of quarry workers, Harley Nicholls, Fred Bray, and Arthur Cox. The next, and last little farm was owned by Arthur Sowell. That was the whole of Rosenithon. All the other houses are "infill" and have been built since. There are also two barn conversions.
My grandfather's farm of about seventy acres was divided between two of his sons, Jim and Bert. My father, Jim, got the Godrevy tenement around to the Claypit and the Giant's Quoits field which was then at the end of the quarry road on the right. In order to make the acreages equal he also got the Parc an Gray and the two little meadows at the St K. end of the village. Uncle Bert got the land behind the farm leading over to the treloyhan road where he also had those fields that we still have.Also the two Golden Praas.
Cap'n Dick owned about sixty acres which he divided between two of his sons, Lory and Charlie. Lory's farmyard was at Higher Barns, and his land was around the farmyard and out as far as the Claypit.
Charlie's farmyard was in the village half way down Chenale road, and he had four little fields down Godrevy Lane, and four at the Bannels on the St Keverne road.
Joe Mathews at Chenale had about twenty five acres running down to Godrevy beach.
Arthur Sowell at the Eastern end of the village had two fields, Parc Tonkin and Joan's field, above his house and some more meadows beyond the Porthoustock corner on the left side of the road.
Most of those fields have disappeared due to quarrying.
George Trip, the fisherman, had a boat at Godrevy which he soon changed for a bigger one and kept it at Porthoustock.
The various quarrymen walked to work at the West of England quarry.
No one in Rosenithon owned a car, and the only person I knew with a car was Dr Spry at Polventon. Later, there was a car for the quarry bosses, and Uncle Bert acquired one during the war.
No one had a telephone.
Water was obtained by dipping buckets into the well opposite Uncle Bert's house, or there was another well, less pure, where water could be got for washing across the road from Charlie's house.
The little farmsteads were almost self supporting. Every one kept a few cows which were milked by hand, the milked was "separated" to extract the cream, to make butter, to sell in the three shops at St Keverne for some cash, to buy staples like sugar,tea, flour etc.
The skim milk was fed to pigs which were fattened on milk and home grown barley meal which was ground at the mill at Porthallow. The pigs would then be sold in due course to Tommy Pascoe, who came around periodically "dealing" in his very smart horse and trap.
Uncle Bert hand milked his cows, put the milk in a churn and sold it door to door around St Keverne and Porthoustock.
Chicken were kept for eggs which were usually the perk of the wife. We ate eggs quite often, but rarely chicken except for the old hens which were past laying.
Every farmer had a horse which we all became much more attached to than to any of the other animals. Our horse at that time was a dear old mare called Jessie.
My father told me that at the beginning of the 1914-18 war there was a call-up of farm horses for army transport. He took Jessie to Helston, but she was turned down as being too young at four years old.
When war broke out again in 1939 he said that I could take Jessie for selection. We knew she would be refused because she was now twenty nine years old. Of course no horses were needed because all transport was mechanical. (The Germans still used horse transport.)
Each Rosenithon farmer used his own horse for normal farm work, carting etc, and they were paired up for heavy work like ploughing or harvesting. Uncle Bert had two horses and a pony at that time, a chestnut carthorse, a lovely half thoroughbred mare called Kitty, and a pony, called Tommy, for the milk-float.
Kitty was capable of almost any work. She was good to ride and also good in work harness. When there was no water in the fields the horses had to be taken to drink down by Chenale gate. If I could ride Kitty (bareback) while somebody else took Clincher, it made my day.
Jessie was a clever and very kind old horse. Any child could drive her because when pulling a cart through a gateway she would compensate for the width of the cart behind her. We had Jessie for the whole of her life, thirty four years. At the end she couldn't eat properly or get up off the ground.
We all walked to St Keverne school in a group, coming home for dinner every day. If the weather was really bad, one of the fathers would dress himself up in dry sacks and bring up pasties which we ate in the classroom. Those were the best dinners of all.
Water was very important. The only water in the village was the stream which runs through the bottoms and Chenale to Godrevy and the two wells.
We were lucky because we had the stream at Godrevy, so our cows and young stock were kept at Godrevy as much as possible. Most farmers had to bring their animals to the stream through the "commons" at least once a day. It became well regulated because we knew how it would be if they got mixed up.
Lory would bring his cattle down from Higher Barns when he came in to lunch, leave them to drink while he ate, and then take them back up.
Uncle Bert always milked early in the afternoons, so he let his cows go down to drink about half past three before they were milked.
Arthur Sowell put his cows down to drink after morning milking.Joe Mathews and Charlie had the stream running through their fields.
About 1937 the Milk Marketing Board started buying all our milk. They collected it by lorry from a collecting point in the village centre at 7.0 am every day. That meant an early start, but it also meant more cash flow, and less dependance on barter. Even since I have been farming, barter has played a part. I once sold Bert Richards some straw, and my accountant asked how much I had been paid for it. I replied," Potatoes and a basket of raspberries".
In the school holidays there was always plenty to do.We did a bit of farm work, or got in the way at harvest time. Chased rabbits when the corn was being cut, and then sold the rabbits in Porthoustock. The beach was always nearby. We would go onto Roger's Island and let the tide come in around us and stay there until the tide went out again. I never heard about anyone worrying that we might be in any danger.In the harvest fields nost of the men worked together. When seven men go into a hayfield towork together, it is almost like mechanisation. Cap'n Dick compared it to "Russia's great army".
There is always something or someone to talk about, and the work goes with a swing. About mid morning the man whose field we were harvesting would send some children in to fetch the croust. After the men had had enough, we kids would empty the basket. I remember Mrs Charlie used to send out slices of apple tart and cream with cloves.
Arthur Sowell was once cutting hay in the Joan's field, and left some herbie beer in bottles in the gateway while they went milking. We found that too.
In the Summer, young members of our scattered families would come to Rosenithon on holiday. My father's sister's and brother's sons, Uncle Bert's wife's nephews and Charlie and Lory's nephews and others. Every evening there would be a big session of cops and robbers or hide and seek which would only end when it was too dark to see. At the end there would be a big series of "Goodnight"s and we would all disappear indoors. I am sure that by that time, nearly every door in every farmyard had been left open. I don't recall ever being told off about it.
Colleen and I started farming in 1950 when I came out of the RAF. Things were very much as before. Joe Mathews had died and Mr Lang was at Chenale. All Rosenithon farming was orchestrated by Lory. He really decided which communal jobs should be done and when.
Lory died in 1952, after I had served a very short intensive apprenticeship. About this time I was doing the horsework (with Duke and Gypsy) for Uncle Bert as well as myself and I got behind with the Spring planting. Uncle Bert borrowed an old tractor from his horse dealer friend, Sam Dunstan, to speed things up.
When we finished the work we let Sam have the two horses and we kept the tractor. From that time, I practically took over the harvesting for the village. We still turned out to help, but the tractor, a Ford Ferguson, took a lot of the hard work away. At first I used the tractor to pull the old horse implements, but gradually we acquired second hand tractor equipment.
Lory's farm was rented out for a while, and then it was bought by George Rogers.George later built a new farmhouse at Higher Barns, and the old farmhouse in the village was sold. When George died, his son, Geoffrey, took over and runs it part-time. Arthur Sowell died and his son, Jack, ran it for a while (part-time) before selling it to Miss Bulkeley of Tregellas. She wanted the house for a workman. All the Sowell fields out by the quarry had been sold to the quarry several years before this. Miss Bulkeley sold the Parc Tonkin and Joan's field to me and I could now open up the track from the mowhay to Parc Tonkin. This was the first time we had a field straight off the farmyard.
When Uncle Bert died my grandfather's will stated that half of his farm had to come to me. His widow, Auntie Louie, agreed that she should keep the house and some land around it, and that I should have the farmland.
Mr Lang of Chenale retired and sold the farm to Bert Richards who carried on farming it as a small mixed farm. Bert died a few years later and his widow, Kathleen, rents the land to me anually.
Another small farmer at Addiscombe, who had always been a friend to me, retired and rented his land to me. I now rent that same land from his son, Howard. I now have about seventy acres, enough to call it a typical small Cornish farm.
We installed a simple milking parlour and progressed, later, to milking seventy cows. Our Cornish climate is nearly ideal for growing grass, and our cows haven't been in at night for thirty years unless one is unwell.
We do just dairy, and depend entirely on cash, the money for our milk. Such a change from our beginnings. With the introduction of milk quotas we have had to reduce our cow numbers to about fifty five, but by reducing costs as well, we are almost as well off.
We now get most of our milk from grass with grass silage as a "top up" in Winter, and some supplementary concentrate in the milking parlour in Winter. The cattle feed comes in by tanker and is gravity fed to the cows. The milk is conveyed to the refrigerated tank by vacuum and collected by the dairy on alternate days.
Charlie Rogers retired and sold his farm by auction.
George, Hayden Kelly and I bought it and divided it between us.
Hayden Kelly farms at Treloyhan and like his father before him, has been a great neighbour and helper.
Charlie's bungalow was also sold to non farming people.
The local West of England quarry closed down and the quarrymen left Rosenithon to let in even more non farmers and retirees. Sowell's two yards and mowhay have been built on, and two more houses have been been built at the St Keverne end of the village. One of them is a private commercial bakery.
Uncle Bert's barn and Charlie's farmyard are also private houses, although both still with farming connections.