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Lamorna Cove

This picture perfect Cornish cove nestles where a deep wooded valley meets the sea on the Land’s End peninsula. Set between the well-known tourist destinations of Newlyn and Porthcurno, this stunning location is an ideal starting point from which to explore the delights of the coastal path in either direction. Tater Du lighthouse is not far away and a little longer walk in the opposite direction will bring you to the idyllic harbour of Mousehole. But beyond the wonderful scenery this cove is also remembered as a real haven for artists in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Lamorna Cove, not as famous as St Ives in terms of artistic centres

Though not as famous as the artistic centres of St Ives and Newlyn, in the early 1900s Lamorna certainly attracted it fair share of painters who formed a blossoming community with the support of the local landowner. In the years before and after the First World War many agricultural workers began moving away to find jobs in the towns and cities, and the cove, which had once been the site of a large granite quarry, was no exception to this exodus. This left Colonel Paynter of the Boskenna Estate who owned Lamorna Cove with several empty cottages.

Colnel Paynter – an alternative thinker

Always an alternative thinker he decided to encourage artists to move in and convert some of the empty homes and barns into their studios, and of course the beauty of the cove helped to make the idea a success. Artists such as Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch, who took his nickname from the cove, Laura and Harold Knight, Dod Procter and Alfred Munnings, among many others, moved in. And Paynter remained a supporting and encouraging landlord for this new artistic set.

In one particularly memorable incident in 1909 the painter, Laura Knight, had a number of young men modelling naked for her outside on some rocks just beyond the cove. Unfortunately some rather elderly ladies came along the coastal path and were greeted by what they felt was a truly shocking scene. They complained to Colonel Paynter who quickly put them their place – the cove belonged to him and Mrs Knight could do whatever she liked!

The paintings that Lamorna Birch produced during his 63 years living at the cove are perhaps some of the best known. He produced a staggering 20,000 paintings in his lifetime, many of them depicting the coast around Land’s End and Lamorna but also of his children and the stream flowing through the valley where he and Colonel Paynter liked to fish.

The cove was eventually sold by the Paynter family in the 1950s but a visit to Penlee House Gallery in Penzance will demonstrate how many artists were influenced by that small stretch of cove over the years as the gallery has several paintings of Lamorna Cove on display.

Lamorna Cove has been up for sale for a few years now, so it could all be yours if you can find the £1.45 million asking price.


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