Secrets of Rosemundy mothers and babies home

Phil Frampton talk

Friday 12 April 2024

Phil Frampton
Phil Frampton signing copies of his book

The Museum welcomed Phil Frampton, Activist, Journalist and author of “Golly in the Cupboard” to the Methodist Church Hall for a keenly anticipated talk on 12 April. The Hall was packed with an audience of 80 but the talk almost didn’t take place after the flight from Manchester to Newquay that Phil had been due to catch was cancelled. A coach was arranged instead which got Phil to the talk just in time having travelled 246 miles.

To raise funds, there was a raffle for which the main prize was a generous £50 voucher for Sunny Spice Indian restaurant and three prizes donated by Rosemundy House Hotel. A non-alcoholic bar provided refreshments run by Diana Good Dixon, Sue Amor and Susan Clayton. Shop Manager, Mike Furness, also brought copies of “Golly in the Cupboard” and Clive Benney’s book “The Secrets of Rosemundy House”.

Welcomed by Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, and after an opening film showing some of his campaigns, Phil spoke of his birth at Rosemundy in 1953 where he spent the first 3 months of his life. It was assumed that he could never be adopted as he was of mixed race. His African father was deported by the British Government simply for fathering him. After 6 months in a home at Instow he was brought up in Barnado’s Homes. His family became the other children and he found stability in the homes whereas he felt today’s children are often isolated. He never felt that he had love and the children’s education was neglected. He wanted to go to the local Secondary Modern School where they played football, not rugby, and would not have been separated from the other children, but won a place at Grammar School. He left the home aged 15, at 16 was living alone in a bedsit. He went on to Bristol University which he enjoyed. At this time he knew nothing of Rosemundy Home.

He wanted to make a difference in the world and set up a Gypsy site in Bristol. In 1993 he went into journalism and market research. He wrote travel guides. After 1997 children in care were able to access their records and in 2000 the Care Leavers’ Association was set up which still exists. “Golly in the Cupboard” won a radio award.

Phil continued to campaign and researched a programme on Rosemundy Home. He discovered that heavily pregnant women were marched in a crocodile to church, where they were often abused, that they scrubbed floors and did heavy work in the laundry. Their whole stay was designed to humiliate them. Mothers were locked in their dormitories while their babies were chosen by adoptive parents from their prams on the lawn. Phil felt there should be plaque in St Agnes commemorating the mothers and their babies. One Rosemundy mother, Lyn, spoke of her time at the Home, describing it as “wicked”. One “baby”, Peter, described his loving upbringing in his adoptive home with his Dutch mother and father.

Thanking Phil, Roger Radcliffe said it had been a “pretty emotional evening”. Afterwards, Phil signed copies of his book “Golly in the Cupboard”, pictured right.

Phil and Roger took part in a Radio Cornwall programme broadcast on the following Sunday morning.

Born at Rosemundy: Phil Frampton talk on 12 April 2024

On Friday 12 April 2024 at 7.30pm the Museum will host a talk in St Agnes Methodist Church Hall, British Road, by Phil Frampton, author of “Golly in the Cupboard”, about his birth as a mixed race baby in Rosemundy Mother & Baby Home, St Agnes, growing up in a Barnado’s Children’s Home, and his life thereafter. Copies of his book, which is on sale in the Museum online shop, will be available and Phil will be happy to sign copies.  The talk will be open to all, free to Museum Members or with a charge of £3 to non members.

Those wishing to purchase a ticket in advance and reserve a seat are asked to contact Roger Radcliffe via the Museum website

Refreshments will be available.

Stewards thanked at 2024 preview

The Stewards’ Preview took place at the Museum on Friday 22 March with 23 Stewards present.  It started with coffee/tea, biscuits and homemade cake and an opportunity for mingling and chatting. 

Our Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, welcomed everyone and thanked them for their continued support.  He demonstrated the new roadside advertising sign, much lighter for Stewards to handle, which fits over the existing bollard.  He told everyone of the upcoming Phil Frampton talk at the Methodist Church Hall and warned of the fire risk of leaving chairs pushed against the storage heaters.  He mentioned the significance of the newly displayed mine model and the accompanying animated film of that very engine, together with the fact that the full-sized engine is preserved in store at the Science Museum, London, as “a good example of a latter-day small Cornish pumping engine.”  He suggested that visitors might be interested to spot the abandoned engine house as they explore the village centre.

Shop Manager, Mike Furness, received a round of applause when he announced that PLU numbers have all been deleted so that all till transactions are now done by barcode reader, which simplifies the process.  He informed everyone about the new shop stock, all from local producers, including Gail Cooper’s pottery, Mine Engine House shaped nesting boxes and St Piran flag coasters.  He hoped very much that this year will complete a hat-trick of the shop sales reaching over £10k.  He challenged all Stewards to enrol at least one new Member this season, and received two promises of new recruits.

Curator, Clare Murton, updated everyone on changes to the displays this season.  A smaller pottery display, curated by Alan Dumper, had moved to the first floor, and the mining display was, at the time, a work in progress with the help of Roger Radcliffe, Mike Hockley, Nigel Kendall and Phil Hawke.  It will include a new digital picture frame showing a wonderful video of how the pumping engine works, based on Thomas’ Shaft Engine, the model of which made by the late Ian Yarwood, will be on display but incomplete (Ian sadly died before he could complete it).  Work to complete it will continue throughout the season.  Clare told everyone of our successful bid at auction for a chough which is being restored and which will hopefully be on display later in the season.

Our chough – coming soon!

The Museum is delighted to have been able to buy a chough at auction and we are very grateful to Alan Dumper for bidding successfully.  With choughs now living at Wheal Coates it is important to help visitors identify them.

The chough is currently being conserved by Simon Moore who, many years ago, conserved our leatherback turtle and cuckoo, but we hope to have him back on display later in the season.

St Agnes Museum’s Annual General Meeting 2024

St Agnes Harbour by Mabel Keighley

22 February 2024

St Agnes Museum Trust held its 40th Annual General Meeting at the Methodist Church Hall on 22 February. Welcomed by the Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, Members were given an update on the Constitution, explaining that the Museum had joined the Co-op Bank, and the Bank required the status of the Trustees to be clarified, as follows. He explained that the Committee of twelve were Managing Trustees, and that there were also Holding Trustees who signed the Lease and whose numbers the Museum wished to increase from 5 to 7 in order to satisfy the Bank. The additional Holding Trustees are Nicholas Roberts, Philip Mitchell, Rozen Whitworth and Tom Whitworth. Members were overwhelmingly in favour.

Treasurer, David Teagle, reported total receipts of £20,513, total payments of £20,876, giving a negative balance of £362. The Museum started the year with a bank balance of £38,357, ending with £37,994. The new Lease required payment of £723 to Pullen Davies, Solicitors. £10,500 had been set aside as a fighting fund for roof repairs. Gift Aid had raised £1,815. Subscriptions will remain the same from January 2025 although the cost of the Journal has doubled.

Curator, Clare Murton, said that our Accreditation with the Arts Council remained valid. We were 80% ready for it when it needed to be renewed. She had received much help throughout the year, particularly from Tracy Dumper and Duke of Edinburgh participant, Luke Jones. Recording the headstones on one side of the cemetery had been completed – a great help for those seeking information on their ancestors. Next season there would be an enlarged mining display with mineral specimens. She hoped to update the touchscreen in the long term. The Museum’s two John Opie paintings are currently being restored and will be returned for the Museum’s reopening. Among gifts received were two framed paintings of St Agnes Harbour, an oil painting by Boscastle-born Mabel Keighley, better known as a miniaturist, and a watercolour by Richard H Carter of Truro, a pair of bloomers, and two signed prints by Jo Pollock.

Membership Secretary, Mary Wilson, announced 287 Members, 19 more than last year.

The Chairman thanked the whole Committee, Rota Organiser, John Oaksford, and volunteer Tracy Dumper. He said that priorities were to begin a new 30-year Lease, opening up possibilities of grant aid. He urged everyone to consider volunteering.

The following were re-elected as Officers: Chairman, Roger Radcliffe; Vice Chairman, Clive Benney; Treasurer, David Teagle and Secretary, Jackie Cotton, and the following Committee Members were re-elected en bloc: Colin Harris, Nicholas Roberts, Mary Wilson, Peter Thomas, Steve Roberts, Liz Thompson, Mike Furness and Clare Murton. Claire Morgan, FMAAT, of Champion Accountancy was reappointed as Auditor.

After refreshments and a chance to browse the pop-up Museum Shop, Neil Roberts gave a thoroughly researched and detailed illustrated talk on the St Agnes Home Guard 1940-45. He recalled Anthony Eden’s radio broadcast on 14 May 1940 calling for men aged 17-65 to register for the Local Defence Volunteers. Initially there were no uniforms, no equipment, no service weapons and no organisation. Army combat dress became available in 1940/41. Fourteen battalions were raised across Cornwall. St Agnes Parish was designated “E Company of the 11th (Newquay) Battalion with 5 platoons and over 200 men overall. The headquarters of the 11th (Newquay) Battalion was at Trerice. E Company had a chough as its emblem with the motto “Eyes Everywhere”. Among their headquarters were the former Parish Rooms in Churchtown, Cannonball Farm in Beacon Road and the Trevellas Men’s Institute. The observation post for 25 Platoon in St Agnes Village was St Agnes Castle above Cleaderscroft. At one time the Miners’ & Mechanics’ Institute was used to store arms.

Thanking Neil, Chairman, Roger Radcliffe, said “the level of detail gives an indication of his research”.