Saturday, September 1, 2012

Polperro, Cornwall


Postcards from England: 2. Shells suit

The next in my series of postcards of buildings is the Shell House in Polperro. Originally a 19th-century fisherman's cottage, the building was decorated – with thousands of shells from all over the world – between 1937 and 1942 by seaman Samuel Puckey. There's a long tradition of using shells in decoration – numerous country houses have shell grottoes in their gardens, and occasionally shells have been used to decorate the outsides of buildings. But this building is rather different, not the knowing jeu d'esprit of some sophisticate, but a piece of folk art, lovingly created over the years. Its decoration has been preserved and repaired in places, as the detail photograph below, more recent than my post-war postcard, shows. The Shell House deserves such care, and deserves too to be remembered by visitors, long after their memories of piskies and ice creams fade away.

The copyright on this image is owned by Chris Downer and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

The Shell House is available as a holiday let; there are details here.

7 comments:

bazza said...

I remember, as a child, walking between Brighton and Rottingdean and there being a sea-front house with the whole front-garden wall and house front being decorated with shells in a similar way. I also saw a new one in the Botanical Gardens , Edinburgh, this year.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Vinogirl said...

This is a great post. I love Polperro.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Bazza: I must ask my Sussex spies if this place is still there.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Vinogirl: It's years since I went to Polperro (hence the postcard rather than one of my usual photographs), but I remember it fondly as a rather nice mix of stunning scenery and seaside tat of the "come in and buy a Cornish pisky" type. Maybe there is less tat these days.

Shirley said...

Polperro: piskies and violet perfume. Its been a few years since I was last down that way too, I hope the building is still there.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Shirley: Yes, last heard of it was still there, and available to let for holidays.

Polperro Harbour said...

I personally love the Kirk House building in Polperro - it is a converted chapel. Stunning....