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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Serendipity in Penzance

Maddalena De Leo writes:
At the end of July I was again in inspiring Penzance after five years, this time as the Italian BS representative with my member friend Caterina Lerro and two other Italian Brontëites. We toured the town and had an external look at Maria Branwell’s house, still closed and without life, just to take souvenir photos on its door. Afterwards at sunset I proudly showed my mates historic Chapel Street with its important buildings such as St. Mary’s church, the Admiral Benbow’s inn, the one described in the opening scene of Stevenson’s Treasure Island, the Union Hotel, where it is believed the news of the battle of Trafalgar was first announced, and the Egyptian House.
After some time our appetite brought us to have dinner in The Tremenheere Wetherspoon pub in High Street, just aside the white marble statue of renown Penzance hero Humphry Davy. While there, looking around for a free table to sit, I made a welcome discovery, something I hadn’t found out in Summer 2010 when I had meticulously looked for any Brontë tracks in their mother’s birthtown. I saw in front of me on the left side of the pub a quite large gold framed panel reproducing the famous three sisters’ images and the ‘Gun portrait’ including Branwell in its centre, followed by a short explanation entitled ‘Penzance Literary links’; on the right below Reverend Patrick Brontë’s photo in old age and on the left lower side the portrait of the lady maybe thought to be Maria Branwell, the children’s mother and the Reverend’s wife. Of course I rejoiced for my discovery since it seemed absolutely impossible there is nothing in Penzance to commemorate the Brontës but on looking at the presumed Maria’s portrait I found out there is a mistake in the panel: the woman is not Maria Branwell at all but another much older one, presumably her own mother Anne Carne, since poor Maria died of cancer when she was just 38. I then enthusiastically took photos of me sitting just at the table nearby the panel.
Despite the mistaken picture my second staying in Penzance was surprisingly lucky and I felt fulfilled in my new search.