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UK >

Cornish welcome new status

Tim Wyatt

by Tim Wyatt

Posted: 02 May 2014 @ 12:16

ORIGIN PICTURES/robert viglasky

Click to enlarge

Set in Cornwall: a scene from the recent BBC drama Jamaica Inn, based on Daphne du Maurier's novel, in which the villain, the Revd Francis Davey (Ben Daniels), tries to make his escape by taking hostage the heroine, Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay)

Credit: ORIGIN PICTURES/robert viglasky

Set in Cornwall: a scene from the recent BBC drama Jamaica Inn, based on Daphne du Maurier's novel, in which the villain, the Revd Francis Davey (Ben Daniels), tries to make his escape by taking hostage the heroine, Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay)

CORNISH Anglicans have welcomed the news that the Cornish people have been officially designated a national minority.

The announcement was made by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, last week. It means that the Government must take Cornish interests into account in decision-making and work to preserve Cornish culture.

A non-stipendiary minister at St Michael's, Newquay, the Revd Jane Kneebone, said that she was delighted. "Although it won't bring us any more money, it is recognition, and will give us leverage when things come up in Westminster that have a bearing on the situation in Cornwall," she said. "We are very proud to be recognised - we have been campaigning for a long time." Mrs Kneebone is a Cornish-speaker and chaplain to the Gorsedh Kernow, a group of Cornish bards who promote the Celtic identity of Cornwall.

Mrs Kneebone said that between 20 and 80 people came to Cornish-language services that she held across the diocese of Truro. Although very few people spoke the language as a mother tongue, Mrs Kneebone said, her services included worship and sermons in Cornish, and that interest in them was growing all the time.

Enabling Cornish Christians to express their identity and faith together was very important, she said. "Our services are for the major festivals, and for the Cornish saints' days. The next service coming up is on 11 May for the festival of St Michael the Archangel, Protector of Cornwall."

Mrs Kneebone's sentiments were echoed by the Canon Chancellor of Truro Cathedral, the Revd Perran Gay. He said: "I'm pleased. Many of us in Cornwall, both natives and those who have moved in, feel a special sense of distinctiveness. Yet, also being part of the Church of England, we feel part of a wider family as well."

Canon Gay said that the cathedral organised occasional services in Cornish, which were warmly received even by those who did not speak the language. "It may be this encouragement from Westminster will actually encourage a bit of thinking and speaking in Cornish."

Cornwall has had its own diocese only since 1876, having previously been part of the diocese of Exeter. Canon Gay said that, despite a historic friction between the C of E and Cornish Christianity, faith in the county was now deeply enmeshed with Anglicanism.

"It's very important for the C of E to be proud of its Cornish identity in Cornwall and to encourage that stream of tradition. We are also keen to remember the distinctive saints down here.

"We now have Cornish wrestling, which happens on the grounds outside the cathedral, and we are hoping to translate a Gospel into Cornish, perhaps of John."

A fusion of Cornish spirituality and Anglicanism was part of Mrs Kneebone's faith: "The Celtic spirituality movement is across Christianity, and [although] it is not Anglican, I'm celebrating it as a particular form of Anglicanism."

 

'If you want to personify pure evil, you cannot do better than bring on the priest' - review of Jamaica Inn, set in Cornwall

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