The Ladies of Cornwall

 Two Cornish girls talk about what Cornwall means to them...



You may have heard her voice on the radio or in the supermarket, or perhaps in a documentary or on TV. We caught up with top voiceover artist Anna Butterfield who gives the low-down on boats, her band and why she’s a south coast kind of gal.


Definitely born and bred; I came into the world at Treliske hospital in Truro about 33 years ago and have spent a majority of my life here. My maternal line is rooted in the county.


I’m the voice of Heart FM and local station Atlantic FM and you may have heard me at your local ASDA enticing you to buy a few special offers over the tannoy system. I started in the business while working in promotions at Pirate FM based here in Cornwall and was asked to do some in-house voiceovers and from there I decided to go full time and consequently lived and worked in Bristol and London. My dulcet tones mainly do voice radio and TV campaigns and I work from a studio situated in a converted cupboard at home which I call the ‘Magical Cornish Cupboard”


I moved back to Cornwall last summer and am renting a cottage on the south coast. My mum tells me the stretch of water I can see from my kitchen window is called Devoran Creek.


Bit of both really. Falmouth is the place where my heart is so I love going there with friends. The Boathouse in Beacon Street for a drink is a great favourite of mine and The Old Quay Inn at Devoran is a great place where all the people in the village meet up.


Oh now that’s tricky. My heritage is North Coast but my heart is on the South because basically I’m a sailor not a surfer! Although I’m so fond of the area around Porthtowan and the ‘Aggie’ Cliffs, if I have to choose one for the rest of my life, I have to say south, but that’s what I love about Cornwall; you have that wonderful choice.


I like to keep active and my family have had a boat since I was a kid so I absolutely love sailing. I spend a lot of time on the water sailing the Carrick Roads or up the coast to Fowey and there is nothing better than tacking across the Fal Estuary to St Mawes for lunch or a cream tea at the Tresanton Hotel.


I’ve heard of Brenda, she was a Cornish folk singer, am I right? I guess I’m much more into the contemporary scene. Actually I recently rejoined a local band headed up by my friend Chris Smith from Porthtowan and we have just started to do some gigs around the area, I’m hoping we’ll get to do some sessions at the Eden Project this summer. Our most recent incarnation is “Love Gap “ but we keep changing the name! We perform a general mix of funky stuff and chilled out tunes written by Chris.


I like a bit of good food and it has to be the new wave stuff. I love the fact so much local produce is used in imaginative ways these days. I’ve just discovered the crab and oyster bar at The Wheelhouse in Falmouth that serves up fantastic seafood caught just up the river.


Not a lover of modern art, but anything with boats in it and I’m taken in. I like the Newlyn School but the artist I’ve completely fallen in live with is Glyn Macey who was incidentally born in Newlyn. His seascape pictures are so wonderfully Cornish. On my thirtieth birthday my dad gave me some money to buy one of his works, which I haven’t done yet; I just can’t decide!


I recently bought a house in Falmouth and have set up a studio there so I'm getting ingrained back into the culture. I needed to come home and touch base for a while but it wouldn’t surprise me if I randomly moved somewhere else in the future but would always come back to Cornwall. I have an inexplicable magnetism towards the place; there seems to be good energy here, it feels properly like home and I feel terribly proud to be here and safe. It really doesn’t compare to anywhere else I’ve been. I am totally addicted to Cornwall and if I am away for a while I start to get a bit funny, upset and terribly sad!


Dame Lynne Brindley reveals how her Cornish roots led to her successful career at one of the world’s greatest treasure houses.

One of the earliest documents relating to Cornwall at the British Library is a handwritten Anglo Saxon charter from King Eadred dated 949 AD. It grants the king’s “faithful man” land at Welford in Berkshire in exchange for land at Pendavey in Egloshayle near Wadebridge. It is somehow appropriate then that I meet the COE of the library, Dame Lynne Brindley, at her Cornish home right in the middle of the village mentioned in the ancient manuscript. “I’m so glad you asked me to see what old documents we held in the library about Cornwall” she says “Isn’t that an amazing coincidence?”

Lynne has been in charge of the British Library, billed as the UK’s ‘collective memory’, for 10 years, a post that she describes as an “incredible privilege” and supervises the preservation of over one hundred and fifty million items stored in the library’s archives. Her job takes her across the world from Beijing to Buenos Aires and all places in between, but as often as she can she heads to Cornwall with her husband Tim to simply relax in the county she was raised in.

“My first memory of being a little girl in Cornwall is taking the steam train on the old Padstow branch line down to the coast. When I was a child there was no notion of going away on holiday because we had everything here.”

It was in Padstow that Lynne learnt to swim in the outdoor pool and spent summer days at Polzeath and Rock where she remembers having birthday parties in the sand dunes. A keen musician, she took up the piano at an early age whilst living in Wadebridge. “I used to go for lesson with Miss House in Whiterock Terrace where she still had rooms lit with gas lamps” she recalls. 

As part of the well-known Williams family, who today operate a chain of independent cinemas throughout Cornwall, Lynne says that her interest in music came from her upbringing. “My mother sang and my grandfather was choirmaster at the local chapel. I was brought up in a tradition of Methodist singing and faith suppers; I used to go around the local chapels reciting poetry, I think I must have been quite a precocious child,” she laughs.

Attending Truro School as a boarder, Lynne later took a degree in music at Reading University. “In those days you just followed what you were really passionate about,” says Lynne. “For me it was music, I didn’t really think about how difficult it might be to make a career out of my passion”. In a change of direction, Lynne went on to study librarianship at University College London becoming the top student on her course and initially worked for the British Library in 1979.  Stints as director of library services at the University of Aston and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection at Leeds University were followed by her appointment as CEO at the British Library in 2000.

“It’s a one off, marvellous job,” says Lynne but in a hectic lifestyle that takes her across the globe, her trips back to Cornwall are a welcome break from her busy schedule. “Really a holiday for me is to not get on a plane and just potter around Wadebridge,” she admits.

“I’m a great fan of walking and I love the coast around Trevose and Port Isaac where the landscape is tough and so ruggedly beautiful. I particularly like cycling to Blisland and the moors around Rough Tor and Brown Willy are great escapes, also I love spending time on the Isle of Scilly where I can really chill out”

Lynne believes that toughness of the north coast in some way reflects her own personality and that of Cornish people. “My father worked hard and as children we were brought up to do our best and were taught to always be honest and to help others.” Proud of her Cornish roots, Lynne says wherever she is; it’s wonderful to meet other Cornish people as there is always an immediate infinity. “And although I’ve lived away from Cornwall for a long time I always come back, you never quite leave and it’s possible to spend your whole life discovering something new here”

It’s natural to assume that because of her job Lynne must have a huge collection of books herself. “No, I don’t collect books, I have my own life after all”, she laughs. “I’m much more interested in collecting modern art and love visiting the galleries around St Ives. I support a few living artists here in Cornwall and I’m keen on Henrietta Dubrey and Michael Shepherd both of whom produce wonderful pieces with a local theme”

Lynne says one day retirement will involve more time spent in Cornwall whilst keeping a foothold in London as a happy contrast and perhaps more time to take up painting herself. But for now she oversees the ten miles of printed material that enters the British Library’s archive every year along with the library’s ongoing project of digitising every document, plus recording all UK internet content, storing newspapers – the list is endless and the amount of archive is phenomenal and, yes, even this copy of Cornwall Today will be filed away somewhere in the library’s massive forty six acre store. Accessible to everyone and carefully preserved for future generations


The Latin/Old Cornish Glossary: One of the oldest surviving records of the Cornish language Written in the 12th century, the document contains the Latin name and Cornish equivalents of animals, fish, plants and birds.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britannie: Written in the 12th century, a pseudo -historical work that popularised the legend of King Arthur.

The Cartulary of Sir John Dinham: Rare document containing the title deeds of the 15th century English knight who owned lands near Cardinham.

Christopher Saxton’s Map: The earliest printed map of Cornwall published in 1579.

Henry VIII Defence Maps: Manuscript plans of Falmouth Harbour and St Michael’s Mount from the Tudor period