Just when I was thinking we must have seen most of the
Tamar Valley . . .
Cullacott House is a miraculously preserved gem, built, in its current format, between the 1480s and the mid 1600s. With its fragments of mediaeval wall paintings and wealth of original architectural features, Cullacott must be one of the most important built structures in this part of the country.
Given that the TDs usually tackle either the seriously ancient or the here-and-now, this represented an interesting intermediate challenge.
Having variously found their ways to this hidden farmstead, swathed in the green tapestry of the Cornish countryside, the 22 TDs were welcomed on to site by owners John and Mary Cole, who gave us an excellent introduction to the known history of the building. We were given a comprehensive escorted tour of the remarkable interior and then allowed free rein to wander around the house and its grounds. Wandering around is something the TDs regard as a specialist subject. Within minutes, the group seemed to have been absorbed into the woodwork, as we set about the mammoth task of uncovering the hidden history of the house.
While everyone had their own field of interest - and there is never a consensus amongst a group of dowsers - between us, we did come up with a fair raft of new understanding. This addressed some of the questions Mary had asked us at the outset, but inevitably posed a whole load more.
The current building did indeed date from the 1480s, with its 'new' extension from the 1570s. However, this significant site has been in human habitation from time immemorial. A previous building, dating from the 10th or 11th centuries, stood here - and there were dowsable energies from both the Iron Age and the Neolithic period.
One feature of the house, on which there was a degree of consensus, was the absence of any negative or malign energy - which was a bit of a surprise in a building with such a long, and doubtless chequered, history. Throughout the site, the ether was calm and positive. Several members found remaining spirit energies, both male and female, but these did not seem uncomfortable and presented no concern. Given that there had been a significant amount of recent restoration work, which is notorious for unbalancing things generally, we mused as to whether the house had been 'energetically cleansed'.
Perhaps part of the pleasant ambience of the building relates to the presence of a substantial ley that crosses the main rooms at an angle. In dowsing terms, this would have made it an obvious site for habitation since the most ancient of days. The building layout, however, takes no obvious account of the presence of the ley - and it can only be assumed that the builders may have been aware of the importance of the location, without necessarily being sensitive to the precise reason.
Nestled into the south-facing landscape and protected to the north by higher ground, this building could even have been sited by a feng shui master - perhaps it was! Some people found other smaller ley lines - and just to the west of the house, there was an animated discussion about the presence of water, earth and ley energy crossing at a point, which may have been a well at some point, or even the site of a standing stone. Even the more experienced dowsers could not agree on this - and the more dowsing that took place, the more theories emerged. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of energy present, of various different types - and that we need to have another go at it another day.
Several dowsers correctly identified the site of the old water pump in the eastern courtyard - and the sites of other wells were identified, complete with their crossing water lines and associated historical human activity. In the courtyard next to the barn, there were the graves of a man and a woman, from around 1730. Both were peaceful.
In the garden is a dowser's cameo - a lone gnarled pear tree, still full of life and covered in blossom, despite its advanced years. This tree seems to be persevering, while its contemporaries have long gone, as its energy is constantly being replenished by one of the earth energy lines running through it - a line which also crosses into the house. It also leans over a water line in that uniquely characteristic manner of many old fruit trees.
Back in the mediaeval hall, we considered the fragments of writing, still clearly observable on the painted plaster. Was this the work of an illiterate painter or was it inscribed in ancient 'Cornish'? Neither, it seems. The writing dowsed to being a kind of code - probably something politically, but now indecipherably, incorrect.
Why was the faint painting of St. George not in the centre of the west wall? It seems it had been originally, but when a staircase was moved, at some point, the painting was consequently rendered asymmetrical.
Quite apart from the outstanding architecture of the hall, there were features that probably only a dowser would discover. In front of the fire was the quiet grave of a small animal, perhaps a family dog. The residual energy of the original (?) owner and his wife, sat at their table, were detected (and occupied, out of time!) - and under the stairs on an old pew, the energy felt warm and positive - a special little place for recharging one's batteries. We finished the afternoon with tea and biscuits, care of John, Mary and their family - a rare chance to sum up our findings together and even read out a few public notices!
The weather was mainly dry once again, although the surrounding area was getting a good soaking - and even the absence through temporary illness of Alan Neal could not take the edge off a super afternoon of dowsing. Indeed, it gives us the perfect excuse to invite ourselves back, to show the maestro around!
Many thanks indeed to John and Mary Cole for allowing us to wander all over their property - and to all their family for being so genuinely welcoming.