Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

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Penlee House announced winner at the Cornwall Heritage Awards

Zoe Burkett, Education & Outreach Officer and Louise Connell, Director with the Cornwall Heritage Award 

Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance is celebrating success at the first Cornwall Heritage Awards which took place at Scorrier House in Redruth on Tuesday 20 March 2018, having won the award for best Audience Initiative (large museum).

Penlee House Gallery & Museum won the award for its work to enable people who are blind or visually impaired to enjoy a visit to the Gallery. Working with Penzance Macular Group and iSight Cornwall, Gallery staff put together resources that blind or partially sighted people can borrow during their visit. These include LED torches and audio guides. Staff and volunteers also received training in how to audio describe paintings and live audio described tours of the Gallery are now offered to groups on request.

Not only did Penlee House Gallery & Museum receive the accolade of winning the award, they were also presented with a cash prize of £500 to help support any work or projects they wish to develop. This money has been kindly granted by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Louise Connell, Director at Penlee House Gallery & Museum, says: “We are delighted to have received this award. We wanted to make a visit to Penlee House as enjoyable and inclusive as possible, and staff worked closely with our partners to identify the best ways to achieve this. The project has allowed visually impaired people to enjoy the Gallery at their own pace and the audio guides literally ‘paint a picture with words’.”

In their first year, the Cornwall Heritage Awards have been developed to commend museums and heritage organisations’ achievements, celebrate what makes them so special and to give those unsung heroes their greatly deserved moment in the spotlight. The Awards have been organised by South West Museum Development in collaboration with Cornwall Museums Partnership, and were made possible by investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Cornwall Museum Development Officer, Bryony Robins, comments: “There are more than 70 museums in Cornwall, each offering something unique and special and providing fantastic services for their communities and achieving high standards.

“Recognising the excellence within these diverse heritage organisations, we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other and have organised the Cornwall Heritage Awards to reward the wonderful work they do, and to share their achievements. We have been utterly delighted with the quality of the applications and nominations we received for this year’s awards and are already looking forward to discovering more examples of brilliant work next year!”

Penlee House Gallery & Museum wins Bronze at the Cornwall Tourism Awards 

Penlee has scooped a Bronze award at the highly competitive Cornwall Tourism Awards for its ‘Stanhope Forbes: Father of the Newlyn School’ exhibition in the category Best Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience. The award was presented by Olympic superstar Helen Glover at a prestigious ceremony on 2nd November 2017. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall scooped Silver and Rick Stein’s Cookery School, Gold.  Notably, we were the only art gallery in Cornwall to be given a prize at the Awards!

The panel of judges took account of entry forms, web searches, emails, telephone calls and visits, plus any available additional evidence.  Even more than last year, they were looking for a digital presence that inspired and informed visitors, with good management of online reputations and active use of social media as well as websites that are effective on mobiles and tablets as well as PCs.  Judges were looking for all elements of the business to be excellent, with some of them outstanding. 

Penlee’s Director Louise Connell says: “To be commended with a Bronze award, given the level of competition, is a very significant achievement indeed and is evidence of how hardworking the small team here at Penlee is, supported by our loyal Friends and volunteers. We are all extremely proud of the excellent and inspiring work that we do here.”

Now in their 16th year, the awards saw 180 entries entering 26 different categories. Awards organizer Robin Barker introduced the evening saying: “These awards are not about being good.  They are about excellence in what is one of the world’s largest, fastest growing and most innovative industries.  To be a winner, in a destination with the standing of Cornwall, is something winners should take great pride in.”

left to right: Katie Herbert (Penlee), Olympic Athlete Helen Glover, Charlie Gray (Cornwall 365 - sponsor of the award), Louise Connell (Penlee) & Fiona Wotton (Cornwall 365)

Stanhope Forbes exhibition reaches the final of the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2017

This summer's exhibition, 'Stanhope Forbes: Father of the Newlyn School' has reached the Final of the Cornwall Tourism Awards in the category 'Best Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience'.

After a record 131 judging visits to businesses and a marathon judging panel meeting the Finalists were announced on the 29th September 2017 for this year’s Cornwall Tourism Awards which will be presented at a prestigious ceremony on 2nd  November 2017.

The annual competition saw an increase to 26 categories this year, with a new Guided Tour category and other changes to reflect the ever-changing nature of tourism.  180 entries were received from across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with 75 selected as finalists who will be in suspense until the Awards Ceremony at the Headland Hotel, Newquay, when they will learn whether they have won Gold, Silver or Bronze awards. A further 18 receive Highly Commended status.

Mark Warnes, property and portfolio director at headline sponsors Hoseasons, says: “We are once again very proud to be supporting these awards and very much looking forward to playing our part in recognising the efforts and achievements of tourism businesses across the region. The time, energy and money they continue to invest in their offer is what keeps people coming back year after year, and what makes this area such an enduring holiday hotspot.”

Awards organizer Robin Barker of Services for Tourism adds: “The response from Finalists when we tell them of their selection says it all, with ‘wow,wow, wow’ being the first three words from the first respondent.  Being recognised in these awards means so much to businesses, recognising their dedication, imagination and the kind of ceaseless investment that 21st century tourism requires.”

The 26 award categories cover everything from cookery schools, glamping, hotels and cafes to museums, spas and campsites. A Winner of Winners title and special Outstanding Contribution to Tourism award will also be presented on the night. 

Picture Purchasing Success!

With the help of The Friends of Penlee House, The Art Fund and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Penlee House Gallery & Museum has recently acquired a Newlyn School painting from 1887 by Frank Wright Bourdillon (1851 – 1924) called The Judgement of Paris.

Born in India, the son of a civil servant, Bourdillon started his working life as a coffee planter and began painting as a hobby, recording India’s birdlife.  Encouraged by a friend, he left India to study art, first at the Slade School of Art, followed by a year in Paris.

Returning to England in November 1884, Bourdillon moved to Oxford, where he began to paint in earnest with the aim of exhibiting at the Royal Academy; his first work was accepted there in 1886.  In May that year, Bourdillon moved to Cornwall, living first at Polperro before coming to Newlyn in early 1887.  The Judgement of Paris was the first picture that he painted when he arrived.

Gallery Director Louise Connell says, “The picture shows a typical Newlyn kitchen of the 1880s and was called A Newlyn Homecoming after its original name was lost and forgotten. It was only after discovering copies of Bourdillon’s notebooks in the archives of Penlee House that we identified the picture as The Judgement of Paris. At first, we were puzzled by its unusual title. However, digging a little deeper, we discovered that, in the Greek myth, Paris awards a prize of a golden fruit to the fairest of the three goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. The returning sailor could be the child’s father, who gives her a special gift of an orange from his travels for being the loveliest girl in the room. Bourdillon may have given this charming painting a highbrow title ready for exhibition at the Royal Academy in the summer of 1887, where it was, unfortunately, rejected.”

Frank Bourdillon was only in Newlyn for five years and his output was modest compared with other artists. He struggled with the Newlyn style of painting scenes of everyday life and had a tendency to compare his work unfavourably with other artists. He eventually found more success with historical, costume pieces, which means that this scene of cottage interior is a particularly rare example of his work.

Bourdillon left both the village and his painting career in 1892 to return to India, this time as a Christian missionary. He died in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1924.

The Judgement of Paris is on display at Penlee House Gallery & Museum in the current exhibition, A Casket of Pearls: Twenty Years of Collecting at Penlee, from 4 February – 3 June 2017.

The Friends of Penlee House and the Co-op Local Community Fund 

The Friends of Penlee House has been nominated by Co-op staff as of their three Co-op Local Community Fund charities in Penzance and Newlyn Co-op branches. 

This means that every time Co-op card holders buy Co-op products in one of our local stores, 1% of what they spend will go to their chosen cause - even if they don't pick a cause, their 1% is shared out equally between the three charities. 

We'll be investing any money raised in making Penlee more accessible and supporting the education work at the gallery, so please keep an eye out for the scheme, which runs until the end of March 2017. 

Supporters of the Local Community Fund will need to be Co-op members. For more information, please visit the Co-op website by clicking here.

Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall

The Duke and Duchess came to Penzance on Monday 18 July as part of their 3-day visit to the South West. They spent an hour at St John's Hall (see image below, courtesy of the Daily Mail) Penlee's Curator, Katie Herbert, didn't quite get to speak to Charles and Camilla (Camilla was ushered off just as she got to our party) so wasn't able to remind them that Camilla had previously promised to visit Penlee House! Katie's on the far left of the photo....

Later, our Director, Louise Connell, attended a special performance at the Minack and met Prince Charles and Camilla (apparently the Lady in Waiting told Camilla that she really must visit Penlee House so here's hoping...) We can't spot Louise in any of the Daily Mail photos either but I expect that there will be more to come. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were sitting a few seats away (see if you can spot Prince Charles in Louise's photo below) and later met Louise and other guests at an informal reception before being whisked away in a helicopter for their next appointment....

Gibson Photographic Archive

Penlee is in the process of purchasing a historic collection of photographs that were due to be sold at auction in Penzance on 16 June 2016. The collection of around 1200 print photographs and 300 glass plate negatives are from the firm of Gibson & Sons which had premises on the Isles of Scilly and in Penzance and date from circa 1870 to 1905. 

Gallery Director Louise Connell says,“I am surprised and delighted that the vendor of this historic archive of photographs has offered them Penlee House via private treaty sale. It is the best outcome for heritage in Cornwall:  the collection will be professionally catalogued and made accessible in lots of exciting ways, including an exhibition, publication, online and, of course, through education events and activities. With the level of interest that the collection generated, there was a real risk that it would be bought by a private collector.

As a local museum run by the local Town Council in Penzance, we do not have unlimited funds, and there was a strong possibility that we would be outbid. As it is, we have raised the purchase price through the generosity of a number of organisations and individuals, who have all rallied round to help. 

It is an unexpected delight to be in a position to acquire this important collection, and thank you to the many people who have helped and supported us with our fundraising. It is important to note that the funding package did not require a contribution from Penzance Town Council who already contribute financially towards the running of the gallery. Instead, funding came from The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Art Fund, The Cornwall Heritage Trust and the Friends of Penlee House, as well as donations from members of the public."

Penlee scoops two bronzes at Cornwall Tourism Awards

Penlee House Gallery & Museum has been recognised at the recent Cornwall Tourism Awards for our excellent work. We won bronze awards in two categories: Best Small Attraction and Best Artistic, Cultural and Learning Experience. Penlee House's Director Louise Connell says: This is a fantastic achievement for Penlee. It shows just how hardworking our small team is, supported by our loyal Friends and volunteers. We are all extremely proud.'

The awards ceremony was held at The Headland Hotel in Newquay on Thursday 12 November. The trophies are hand made from beautifully crafted fused glass by Jo Downs. Pictured from left to right are: Zoe Burkett (Education and Outreach Officer), Louise Connell (Director) and Katie Herbert (Curator/Deputy Director). 

Penlee is a finalist in 2 categories at the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2015/16

Following the final judging for the 2015/16 Cornwall Tourism Awards, Penlee House Gallery & Museum is one of the finalists in two categories: the Small Attraction of the Year and the Artistic, Cultural and Learning category.  Competition was fierce, and this year's awards saw all records broken with 172 entries (18% up on last year) and over 70 finalists.  The panel of judges were busy up to the last minute, with judging taking account of entry forms, web searches, emails, telephone calls and visits, plus any available additional evidence.  Even more than last year, judges were looking for a digital presence that inspired and informed visitors, with good management of online reputations and active use of social media as well as websites that are effective on mobiles and tablets as well as PCs.  Judging involved a record 111 visits to businesses often mystery visits. Judges were looking for all elements of our business to be excellent, with some of them outstanding.  To be amongst the winners, given the level of competition, is a very significant achievement indeed, evidence of how outstanding our small team here at Penlee is, supported by our loyal Friends and volunteers. We are all extremely proud!

This means that Penlee House Gallery & Museum will be awarded either a Gold, Silver or Bronze award at this year's Cornwall Tourism Awards ceremony on Thursday 12 November. 
This is not the first time that Penlee's excellence has been rewarded: we achieved a Gold Award in 2011 for Small Visitor Attraction of the Year and Overall Gold Award for South West Tourism Excellence Awards in 2011/12.


New App is launched

After months of development, the free Walkabout West Cornwall app is now available to download to smartphones and tablets. The app is the result of a partnership with local media production company awen productions CIC and Penlee House to explore the gallery and museum's extensive fascinating collection.

Walkabout West Cornwall takes the museum out into the Cornish landscape and uncovers approximately 5,000 years of local history through Penlee's unique artefacts.  With it, you can explore fine art, in particular Newlyn School paintings, archaeological finds, historical items, photography and archive film from South West Film & TV Archive.  The app guides you on a cultural journey through the Cornish landscape and historical timeline of West Cornwall.  Eight themed routes delve deeper into Archaeology, Arts and Crafts, Maritime, Church and Chapels, Fishing, Industry, Social History and Traditions.

This innovative project involved volunteers and Penlee's Photographic research group as well as being tested with various community groups to receive feedback. Linda Collins, Penlee House Volunteer, says 'This is definitely the way forward, especially reaching the younger generation and making them aware of the very special place we are lucky enough to live in.  Interestingly, with the availability of intuitive tablets, the older generation are also becoming more computer literate!'

The app can be downloaded  via the awen website or the Apple Store (search Penlee)


From April: free entry to Penlee for local residents 

A new scheme at Penlee House Gallery & Museum will extend free entry from Saturdays to throughout the week for local residents from April 2015. The highly acclaimed gallery, which is owned and operated by Penzance Town Council, was recently nominated as the sixth best 'hidden treasure' in a national Sunday newspaper poll and has a world famous collection of paintings by the Newlyn School artists.

The Penzance Pass scheme, which launches on Wednesday 1 April, is aimed at residents of Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole who already support the running of the gallery through payment of the local precept. Anyone living within this area can collect their free Penzance Pass card from Penlee House Gallery & Museum or the Town Clerk's Offices on Alverton Street, providing they bring proof of their address with them. 

Director of Penlee Louise Connell says, 'The galleries get very crowded on Saturdays, so this scheme gives local people the chance to visit for free during the week when it's quieter, or just pop in for short visits whenever they like. We are hoping to see many more local people of all ages visiting Penlee as a result of the launch of the Penzance Pass.'

The standard entry price for visitors not qualifying for a Penzance Pass is £4.50 or £3.00 concessions, including 60 plus. Children under 18 are free. Please note that Saturdays will no longer offer free admission for non-local residents. Visitors from outside the local area can still gain free admission if they join the Friends of Penlee House for an annual membership fee of £14 a year, or for £21 for two people living at the same address.

Great art on your fridge!

Penlee has recently launched a range of small, affordable gifts ranging from key-rings and fridge magnets to mugs and cloth bags. Featuring some of the gallery's most popular paintings, including 'On the Whiting Grounds', 'Primrose Day','School is Out', 'Forty Winks' and the enduring 'The Rain it Raineth Every Day', the range is a perfect way to take a piece of Penlee home with you. Please call the Penlee shop on +44 (01736) 363625 for more information.


The Penzance 400 Anniversary Medal

Crafted in pewter in a limited edition of 400 by St Justin of Long Rock, the Penzance 400 medal is the perfect Christmas gift for any Proud Pirate of Penzance! In its own presentation box with limited edition certificate, the medal is £10 if you buy it in person from the Penlee Gift Shop or add £3.50 if purchasing via mail order in UK. Email or call 01736 363625 to place an order.

Cornwall Museums celebrate £1.5m investment

Schools, young people, students, families with children and volunteers across Cornwall will benefit from brand new investment in museums across Cornwall, which has been secured by the Cornwall Museums Partnership.

The £1.5m funding, awarded by Arts Council England, is part of an overall project of £5m which will be invested in exhibitions and activities to help more people enjoy and explore Cornwall's internationally important heritage. This major investment, which ultimately means improved facilities for all visitors to museums, will have a positive impact on the economy with increased visitor numbers adding to increased secondary spend and greater job opportunities locally.

The 3 year programme of events and exhibitions, led by the Cornwall Museums Partnership, will include work with schools to explore the impact of Cornish culture around the world and a major exhibition showcasing the best of Cornwall's unique artistic and industrial heritage in London in 2018.

Twenty of Cornwall's volunteer led museums will benefit from investment in improved exhibition infrastructure, allowing them to change displays more often and display more objects from their stores giving people across Cornwall greater access to their heritage.

Amongst other benefits the project will deliver in Cornwall are an investment in a range of apprenticeships in museums, a volunteering programme for young people aged 14 to 19 and investment in the museums' provision to support Arts Award Gold scheme across Cornwall.

Louise Connell, Director of Penlee House Gallery and Museum said ‘Partnership has been central to the work of museums in Cornwall over the last year. With the help of Cornwall Council, we have developed a shared vision of the future in our Museums' Strategy. Our partnership initiative has helped to access funds which would not have been available had we worked on our own. By joining forces we have managed to secure major investment for Cornwall, against huge competition from major metropolitan museums across England. This funding will help us to ensure that many more people can enjoy and get involved in Cornwall's unique and important heritage.'

Julian German, Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture at Cornwall Council, said ‘It is really good to see the museums in Cornwall working together so effectively. As a rural area, we are privileged to have such a diverse range of small and medium sized museums with a shared vision, collecting and promoting Cornwall's unique heritage. This fantastic investment is another example of the success of Cornwall's museums being recognised outside the Duchy

Arts Council England's investment is a recognition of the excellent and innovative work our museums have been doing and will help to ensure that they can realise their ambitious and exciting plans for the future. The result will be a more sustainable and successful museum community and that benefits us all.'

The bid was compiled by Kevin Brownridge of Perfect Moment and Emmie Kell from Emmie Kell Consulting, supported by Julie Seyler (Culture Programme Manager) and her team at Cornwall Council.

The partners in the bid are:

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Falmouth Art Gallery

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Royal Institution of Cornwall (Royal Cornwall Museum)

Wheal Martyn Museum

Cornwall Museum Development Team

Education News - Work Experience 2014

Naomi Hart from Truro High School for Girls joined us for the week of 23 June. This is her account of how she got on!

I chose to work at Penlee House Gallery and Museum because I have always immensely enjoyed viewing the exhibitions put on here.

The staff have been extremely welcoming, and have helped me to gain a very valuable knowledge of what it is to work in a gallery and or museum. I've been able to observe meetings and even the condition checking of a beautiful painting. I very much enjoyed stewarding and assisting in the shop (though I struggled with the till!), as I was able to engage with the friendly public who visited here. I've definitely appreciated the level of responsibility given to me in editing quizzes, designing posters/activities, writing the stewards' rotas,and in advising possible improvements that could be made to the museum's Facebook pages. I especially liked learning about object handling as I was guided through the stores; and further about the mounting/scanning of precious photographs.

Before coming here, I had only a mere idea of the organisation and effort involved in planning new exhibitions and simply in running a gallery- I find that I now respect and appreciate this effort a lot more thoroughly than I had previously.

Jacobean Extravaganza: Discover Penzance 1614

Get a taste for what life was like in Penzance in 1614 on Saturday 7 June, a day of Jacobean-themed activities in and around Penlee House involving costumed characters and more besides! The day will be free, drop-in, and open to all, from 11am to 3pm, and will include displays of armour and authentic Jacobean weapons, alongside everyday household objects and traditional games.

Artists revive historic etching press

Complementing the exhibition of his work at Penlee, Edward Bouverie Hoyton's original etching press sprang back to life at Alverton Gallery in Penzance earlier this year. A series of printmakers demonstrated their techniques and showed their work. For more information, please visit The Alverton Gallery website

February storms hit Penlee Park

Above: the first cut...

ON the night of Tuesday 4 February 2014, the south west was hit by a 'super storm' that damaged buildings, blew down trees, crashed through harbours damaging fishing boats, and generally caused havoc and upheaval. Part of the railway that links Cornwall and Devon to London was washed away at Dawlish, and many people suffered power cuts, or had to leave their homes for safety. A few of the mature trees in Penlee Park sustained damage, making it too dangerous for people to enter the Park, so the Gallery had to close for the day. In the end, we lost a large pine tree close to the rear entrance of the Gallery, but it could have been far worse. More storms are expected over the next few days, but hopefully none as severe and disruptive as this one.

Mounts Bay Academy takes over Penlee House!

ON Friday 22 November 2013, Penlee House Gallery & Museum was taken over for the day for an exclusive arts extravaganza. The event was part of Museum Takeover Day, a national initiative by Kids in Museums which encourages young people to participate actively in their local museum by taking a venue over, putting on events and bringing fresh ideas.

The Penlee event was run by six Year 9 students from Mounts Bay Academy and formed part of their Silver Arts Award. It was also the last chance to see the exhibition, Graham Sutherland: From Darkness into Light. Sutherland was sent by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record the work of miners and other industrial workers during the war, and spent time underground at Geevor Mine in 1942. The art is both spectacular and inspiring, and certainly inspired the students from Mounts Bay Academy.

Mounts Bay Academy student Rachel Enston says, The event was open to everyone and was themed around the 1940s to fit in with the gallery's current exhibition. Students dressed in 1940s costumes, and people felt as if they were back in the wartime era! There were plenty of exciting things to get involved with including: poetry writing, dance and 40s jazz music.

Zoe Burkett joins the team

Zoe Burkett is the latest addition to the team at Penlee House as the new Education and Outreach Officer, taking over from Katherine Ashton who left to become Curator of Helston Museum.

Zoe's previous post was as Learning Assistant for the busy education service at Cheshire West Museums, where she worked for six years. The service operates several sites in West Cheshire including the Grosvenor Museum in Chester and Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse in Northwich. Zoe was responsible for delivering and developing a wide variety of sessions and activities to promote the use of the service's sites and collections. In addition, she was also active in broadening the audience for the education service, developing a session for 3-5 year olds and building relationships through outreach with local high schools.

Zoe's enthusiasm for history began during sixth form college and led to her undertaking an undergraduate degree in history at the University of Durham. After completing her undergraduate degree, she went on to study for an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester.

Zoe says, "I am very pleased to have been offered the post at Penlee House and I am excited to be working with the archaeology and social history collections as well as with the world-class art collection and the renowned Newlyn School paintings. I hope to build on the award-winning education service which Penlee House already offers."

Dinnertime by Henry Scott Tuke

We're delighted to announce the acquisition of this splendid painting by Henry Scott Tuke, purchased with the assistance of the Friends of Penlee House, V&A Purchase Grant Fund and The Art Fund.

This painting is one of the earliest and most important works Tuke produced in Newlyn. When it was exhibited at Dowdeswell's in London in 1884 (one of the two first works by Tuke accepted by this influential Gallery), it drew considerable praise. The Standard of 15 February 1884 said 'It is by H.S.Tuke, who always remembers the claims of truth, and has today admitted those of beauty. An attractive sailor boy lolls over a solitary meal amongst the coils of rope, on shipboard, and the recesses of the hold are seen in deep shadow. This is a most excellent work, "a bit of life freshly seen and strongly painted." The Times and St James Gazette were equally fulsome in their praise, the latter saying "The whole is painted with a broad firm brush; the low-toned colours are clear and warm; the composition thoroughly successful. It is seldom that so young a painter has produced a work so uniformly strong as this."

In the autumn of 1883, the twenty-five year old Tuke had moved to Newlyn, finding lodgings in Trewarveneth Street, in the heart of the picturesque fishing port, in a house belonging to Philip Harvey who was a sail maker. The house had a sail-loft, used to store sails and other equipment. It was a shadowy, atmospheric place. There was a long bench and Tuke noticed interesting effects in the light that shone through a window to the left - it would be a perfect background for a painting.

Ambrose Charles Rouffignac was a thirteen year old lad from a nearby house who used to appear in the sail loft, probably earning money by helping out. Tuke felt he would make a good model for a picture. Ambrose was persuaded to sit on the bench, in an entirely natural pose of a boy eating a working person's picnic dinner. He holds a knife and some food.

Tuke enjoyed conversations with Ambrose "he was fascinated by the boy's accent" and the boy must have found Tuke intriguing also. Ambrose could talk about his sister Mary and his brothers William and Francis. His father, like most men in Newlyn, was a fisherman. No doubt Tuke heard how Ambrose's mother had died the previous May. Tuke could see the potential in the boy; he told a friend: "If you got so grand to keep a tiger (groom) he would do very well, he is very paintable and has a nice Cornish accent."

'Dinner Time' is a sensitive portrait of the boy, who sits unselfconsciously on a bench surrounded by sails and ropes. His food has been wrapped in a bright red cloth, whose bright colour catches the attention like a flame in the shadowy dimness of the scene. The light from the left illuminates the boy's face, and he is seated amongst bundled sails and equipment.

Extensive research has been done on the model for this painting. Ambrose came from a family who traced their ancestry back to a Huguenot pastor, who fled to England from France in 1688 to escape religious persecution. Ambrose's ancestor came to Newlyn to fish in the early 18th century.

In adulthood, Ambrose himself developed his capability with sails and boats, becoming a master mariner. In 1895 he married a Newlyn girl called Caroline Bodinnar Trahair. The wedding was in Cardiff. They moved up the hill from Trewarveneth Street to 'Carn Dhu' in the village of Paul, where they had five children. By the outbreak of the First World War Ambrose Charles Rouffignac was a captain in the Merchant Navy. In August 1916 he was captain of the SS ANTELOPE. While in the Mediterranean, en route from Marseilles, the ship was stopped by an Austrian submarine. All the crew- which included his own son- were allowed to take to the lifeboats before the ship was sunk by gunfire. The following year, on May 28th 1917, he was on the SS ANTINOE, a defensively armed merchant ship of 2,396 tons. They were 150 miles west of Bishop Rock when the ship was torpedoed without warning and sunk. 21 lives were lost- including Ambrose Rouffignac himself.

His name is listed on Tower Hill Memorial, London, on a headstone in Paul Cemetery and in the Penzance Book of Remembrance. Perhaps his most enduring monument is this sensitive portrait of a rather cheeky boy eating his dinner in a sale loft, totally at home amidst the equipment which is to shape his future.

Long-lost treasure now on show

One of the most stunning Bronze Age items ever to be found in West Cornwall is now on show in Penlee House's archaeology gallery, where it will remain for the foreseeable future. The Penwith Lunula is flat, crescent-shaped gold collar dating from the Early Bronze Age - possibly as far back as 2500 BC. Most have been found in Ireland, but moderate numbers have also been found elsewhere in Europe: this example is one of four found in Cornwall and the only one to have been found in the Penwith area.

There is some mystery surrounding the find-spot of this particular lunula, which has been given as either Paul or Gwithian. Its discovery was first recorded in 1783 by John Price, a Cornish antiquarian, who lived at Chywoone in Paul Parish. In a letter to a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London he describes it being found: ‘in the hundred of Penwith, in this county, by a husbandman, in collecting manure nigh the remains of a circus which from description he apprehends to be composed of earth & not stone.’

It may be Price's residence in Paul that led authorities to believe that it had been found in that parish. A footnote in a now lost manuscript apparently claims that it was found in Gwithian. This is supported by a much later account, written in 1860, which describes how it was found in Gwithian, taken to the author’s grandfather (an apothecary in Camborne) to be assayed, and was then sold to Mr Price.

On Price's death in 1797, the lunula passed to his son. By 1838, it was in the possession of Edward Trafford Leigh, a coin collector who was rector of Cheadle in Cheshire. Leigh had bought it to prevent its export to America. He sold it to the British Museum for 25 guineas in 1838: it has remained there ever since.

After years of being accessible only to researchers in the British Museum, this beautiful, enigmatic object is back in the area it was originally found. Thanks to the generosity of the British Museum Trustees, the long-term loan of this item to Penlee House has been agreed and a grant from Cornwall Council for additional security, together with the donation of a display case from the Treasures form the Earth project (funded by Renaissance and the Heritage Lottery Fund) have enabled us to put it on show.