The Magazine

The Magazine is published monthly and covers St Tudy, Michaelstow and St Mabyn.


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On a recent evening walk, I stopped to talk to Gelda at Butts Park, who has the most lovely handmade gate. Wondering who had made it, the only clue was that an initial “B” and numbers stamped on the gate. I always knew St Tudy had Blacksmiths through the ages, and we are lucky enough to have “the old forge” in the centre of the village still.

There would have been Blacksmiths in St. Tudy from medieval times. Blacksmiths had a higher standard of living than the farm labourer, and usually had some sort of property, although it would have been very basic.

They were essential to, and located in the centre of the village, that is why the old forge is located in the centre of St. Tudy.

In medieval times, they would have made weapons, armour, locks, furniture, horseshoes, nails and tools, and repaired farm implements, and carried on doing so through the centuries.

During the 19th Century, and the industrial revolution, there was a decline in the Blacksmiths trade, and shoeing horses became their primary occupation, and with the 20th Century, came the advent of cars reducing their workload yet again they turned to producing other items such as gates and ornamental items to supplement their income.

I wanted to find who had made the gate, but where to start?

Firstly, I went through the Census’s for St. Tudy from 1841 to 1911 and made a list of all the Blacksmiths in the village. The strange thing I found out was that a lot of them were called John.

The next document I could search was the 1939 Register where I found two Blacksmiths remaining – Thomas John who was an Agricultural Blacksmith, and William Wilton who was a Master Blacksmith – you may well have seen a copy of The Westcountry Calendar of 1959 on our website, showing Blacksmiths working in the centre of the village at the Forge.

Trying to find what this stamped number was on the gate, I found it was called a touchmark or a name stamp. This was used not only for identification, but as a sort of guarantee. 

Everything you walk past has a history, you just need to stop and look sometimes.

There is a twist to this story, as I went back to check the stamp, and it was actually “BBH” – oh dear, should have worn my glasses!

The gate could well have been made by a Hooper who were also Blacksmiths in the village – the jury is out, but I have now got a list of all of the Blacksmiths that lived and worked in St. Tudy over the last 180 years or so, and have a little more information and knowledge about St. Tudy from my research.

Items you walk past every day become too familiar, so you ignore them.

So next time you are taking a walk around the village, take time to stop and have a look – with your glasses on!

We are lucky here in St. Tudy to have such history still all around us.



(This, and much more news, is in the current magazine)




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