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Heritage Alive in Bodmin

What has drawn you to the service commemorating the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549? This was the question posed to some of the congregation at the service in August 2023.

The wide range of reasons reveal the variety of people at this year’s event, from those born and bred in Cornwall to others who have recently made it their home.

Jacqueline Vickery said: “I was born in Cornwall and some of my ancestors were probably part of the rebellion, as we have lived nowhere else. I’m learning Cornish with a tutor and online lessons.”

A member of St. Petroc’s Church said: “I’m keen to hear the Cornish language being spoken and see how it compares to Welsh.”

Denise and Ray Chubb read in Cornish.

A minister at St. Petroc's Church said: “I love to hear the sound of bagpipes and I’m interested to see how the service proceeds.”

Merv Davey played the bagpipes during the service.

Alan Brown, donning a Cornish tartan tie, said: “I’m a member of Bodmin Old Cornwall Society.”

Another man said: “I recently moved to Bodmin and was invited to join Bodmin Old Cornwall Society. I want to attend events like this and now I can because the group informs me about them.”

Simon Dell, an expert on the Prayer Book Rebellion, recently spoke at a Bodmin Old Cornwall Society’s meeting. He asked if Ukrainian refuges, currently living in west Devon, could attend the service. "Of course" was the reply. Tatiana coordinated the families, arranging for everyone to wear traditional Ukrainian dress, and Simon drove them from Tavistock to Bodmin. Simon said: “The families wanted to come to the service to stand in solidarity with the Cornish, as they too are being oppressed.”

Stephanie Thomas, vice president and secretary of Bodmin Old Cornwall Society, after the service, said: “I think the banner parade was one of the best we've had. We have had a lot of support from the Old Cornwall Federation, especially the Grand Bard Pol Hodge and the President of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies Nev Meek. There is a lot of commitment to continue this service on an annual basis in St. Petroc’s Church. Our thanks goes to Rev'd Paul Holley, Barbara Brittain, organist and other church members, for without their involvement the service would not have been possible.”

Nev Meek (pictured right) said: “It’s important to remember all those Cornish people who died in 1549.”

Pol Hodge, who give a rousing speech during the service, said: “This service marks the most important event in Cornish history, in which Bodmin played a key role. Ten percent of the Cornish population died, and it dealt a death blow to the Cornish language. He also spoke about the march, ‘Kernow Arta” (Cornwall Again), from Bodmin to Exeter in 1999 that commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Prayer Book Rebellion.

One man who attend that march travelled from Camborne to be at the service this year.

Bodmin Town Council support the event, and Bodmin’s Mayor Cllr Phil Cooper and Lady Mayoress Carolyn with Deputy Mayor Cllr Mike Barbery and consort for the day Aline Bidgway were in attendance.

The commemoration service included the wearing of Cornish tartan and rosettes, bagpipes, organ, hymns and prayers, a parade of banners, and fluent speakers reading in Cornish.

Bodmin Old Cornwall Society is part of Kernow Goth who aims to safeguard Cornwall’s unique soul and identify through a sound knowledge of its past.

A brief historical overview of the events of 1549, written by Merv Davey last year, is on St. Petroc's Church's website.

The livestream of the service is available on St. Petroc's Church community Facebook page.

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