Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grenofen Valley & Anna Eliza Bray

Thinking of Christina Rossetti and her visits to Torquay and her cousin Anna Eliza Bray (see Blog 21st January) reminded me of the latter's many letters which were published as a whole in her The Borders of the Tamar and Tavy. There were several editions of this work - that of 1879 gave the collection a more succinct title, for previously it had been laboriously named A Description of the part of Devonshire Bordering on the Tamar and Tavy. There are many treasures in this work which can take you off on to the most (still) idyllic spots on the moor. Such is this scene - and her letter that prompted a visit and walk last year. Extract from Anna Bray’s Letter 38; Vol. 2; The Borders of The Tamar and The Tavy; pp383-4. The junction of the rivers Tavy and Walkham, at a wild romantic spot called the Double Water, deserves notice. In its kind it is one of the most beautiful scenes I ever beheld: so, indeed, is the whole of the valley leading to the Double Water. Near the entrance from the Tavistock road is situated Grenofen, a house surrounded by delightful grounds, lawns, and trees. The Walkham winds in the most beautiful manner through the valley of Grenofen; here rushing over masses of rock, there clear as crystal, showing every pebble in its bed, and forming at every turn little picturesque falls of water. Sometimes the stream is interrupted by larger masses, and is seen tumbling over them in a sheet of boiling foam; whilst near, in many a deep hollow, it lies still and clear, reflecting like a mirror every object around . The adjacent hills are lofty, often abrupt; here and there wooded or broken in their sides, presenting a surface of crag and cliff, partially covered with lichen and ivy. In these recesses the ravens make their nests; and the rocks are frequently found of the wildest forms, such as Salvator himself would have chosen as a suitable scene for the haunts of his banditti. The noblest of these piles is called the Raven Rock; no doubt from the many birds of that tribe which harbour in it. This, when seen at twilight, with the river rolling and foaming but a few yards from its base, has an effect that acts powerfully on the imagination. In the days of superstition I can well believe it might have been deemed the haunt of pixies and spirits that make their rings in the greensward at dusk, and lead poor travellers astray, ‘laughing at their harms.'

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