Furzupland, Kenwyn, Cornwall. Early 1900s
A young girl with a skipping rope is at the top of the steps, a lady holding a card or paper is on the right and a gentleman in a trilby is on the left. A gentleman with a white beard and wearing a cap can be seen looking out of a first floor window. The local story of this house is that it was built for an eccentric rich man. At the time when it was built, a well used thoroughfare ran beside the house and the man thought that someone might break in during the night and steal his money. So he had it built like a castle without stairs. At night he would climb up to the first floor using a rope ladder, pull the ladder up and sleep with a blunderbuss gun beside him. On the 1871 census an Edward George Spry, aged 36, lived there. He is described as a Bachelor of Arts, Landowner, Fund Holder and owner of stock in railways, mines etc. He was also part owner of the Red Lion Hotel in Boscawen Street, Truro. His housekeeper was Mary Verran. He and his housekeeper still lived there in 1881. Mr Spry died in 1887 leaving £11,000 (about £1 million today). The house is listed on the 1891 and 1901 censuses but with no occupants. Albert Sidney Labouchere-Sparling lived in the house between 1903 and 1906. In 1911, Josiah Clark (formerly of Tregavethan) lived there with his wife Olivia. It is possible that the people in the photograph are members of the Clark family. Furzuplands was home to the Brown family in the late 1950s. The property was later bought by architect Paul Bunyan and his wife, Laurence, who completely refurbished the interior. Photographer: Probably Arthur Philp.
© From the collection of the RIC
John Vivian of Pencalenick, John Opie (1761-1807)
Oil on canvas, English School, around 1780. A portrait of a young John Vivian of Pencalenick (1772-1817). Vivian later became a Barrister and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1812. John Opie was born in Harmony Cottage, Trevellas, between St Agnes and Perranporth in Cornwall. He was the youngest of the five children of Edward Opie, a master carpenter, and his wife Mary (nee Tonkin). He showed a precocious talent for drawing and mathematics, and by the age of twelve he had mastered the teachings of Greek mathematician Euclid and opened an evening school for poor children where he taught reading, writing and arithmetic. His father, however, did not encourage his abilities, and apprenticed him to his own trade of carpentry. Opie's artistic abilities eventually came to the attention of local physician and satirist, Dr John Wolcot (who used the pen name Peter Pindar), who visited him at the sawmill where he was working in 1775. Recognising a great talent, Wolcot became Opie's mentor, buying him out of his apprenticeship and insisting that he come to live at his home in Truro. Wolcot provided invaluable encouragement, advice, tuition and practical help in the advancement of his early career, including obtaining many commissions for work. In 1781, having gained considerable experience as a portraitist travelling around Cornwall, Opie moved to London with Wolcot. There they lived together, having entered into a formal profit-sharing agreement. Although Opie had received a considerable artistic education from Wolcot, the doctor chose to present him as a self-taught prodigy; a portrait of a boy shown at the Society of Artists the previous year, had been described in the catalogue as "an instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture." Wolcot introduced the "Cornish wonder" to leading artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was to compare him to Caravaggio and Velazquez.
Coombe Creek, Kea, Cornwall. Around 1910
John Stevens Scoble sawing wood on the foreshore of the creek, alongside what appears to be fishing nets drying on poles. He is working in front of his house, Beach Cottage. There is a view of houses and cottages on the opposite shore with small boats on the shore and in the river. The two thatched cottages, Moor Close and Bunny Thatch, on the opposite shore were demolished between the First and Second World Wars. Holly Cottage can be seen to the right of the thatched cottages with Coombe Villa on the far right. Photographer: Arthur William Jordan.
© From the collection of the RIC