‘Here I lie, waiting for old summer
A red face and straw coloured hair has he:
I shall meet him on the road from Marazion
And the Mediterranean sea.’
From ‘The Seasons in North Cornwall’ by Charles Causley (1917-2003)
The word 'Lafrowda' means ‘Church of the Good Cross’ in Cornish and Lafrowda Day is the celebration that takes place every 17 July. It's a community occasion with floats, stalls, music and merry making around the town square in St Just in Penwith, the most westerly town on the British mainland.
The most extraordinary thing about St Just is the ‘Plen-an-Gwary’, which means ‘play field’ in Cornish. This is the oldest continually used outdoor performance area in the United Kingdom and it seems likely that this space, right in the middle of the town, was used for the performance of mystery plays. It was the site in 2000 of a performance of the 'Ordinalia' a three part Biblical epic written in Cornish in the late 14th century, and designed to be performed out of doors.
The Ordinalia is is a 9000 line religious verse drama about the origin of the world, the fall, the flood, and the passion and resurrection. It is believed to have been written by monks (or a monk) at Glasney Abbey near Penryn, which owned the Church of St Just, so the Ordinalia cycle was probably performed in the Plen-an-Gwary from the time it was written. It’s wonderful I think that the Ordinalia was written in the Cornish vernacular and not in Latin, it was obviously meant to be performed and presented locally.
There’s lots to do around St Just and not just at Lafrowda; little galleries, junk shops, a great butcher, and Cape Cornwall - the only cape in England, a spectacular headland jutting out into the Atlantic.
St Just also boasts one of the most civilised of establishments; a cafe with a bookshop - or should that be a bookshop with a cafe? This is based on a Jenny Stephens recipe from the 'An Uncommon Place – The Cook Book – St Just Café Bookshop.' I've substituted carrots for her one grated apple, but you don't have to.
Small loaf of granary bread (crusts removed) cubed and soaked over night in 1/2 pint milk
8 oz mixed dried fruit
2oz mixed chopped peel
3 medium carrots peeled and grated
3tbsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp SR flour
2 tbs marmalade
½ tsp nutmeg
4 oz butter
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except the butter. Melt the butter and stir into the mixture. Pour into a well greased roasting tin and bake at 150c for 1 hr then at 180c for the last 15 minutes to brown the crust. Serve with large amounts of cream. Best warm.
‘Wosa cows ha lafurga an vaner a vya da
kemeres crowst hag eva ha powes wosa henna’
‘After talking and working, it would be a good habit
to take a light repast and to rest afterwards.’
From ‘Origo Mundi’ Book 1 of the Ordinalia