Monday, November 27, 2006

Shoot-out

We are delighted to report on a recent spat involving two county record offices in the South West Euro Region.

It seems a document found among the municipal archives of Plymouth by Dr. Todd Gray, the chairman of Friends of Devon Record Office, undermines the claim of Cornwall to be the home of the pasty. The document, containing a recipe for a pasty dated to 1510 significantly predates the earliest recorded Cornwall recipe, at Cornwall Record Office, which is dated 1746. To add insult to injury, the earlier Devon recipe includes venison from Mount Edgecombe in Cornwall, probably because the Devonshire venison was of too high a quality to put in pasties, according to the author of Legendary Dartmoor


Courtesy Legendary Dartmoor.

Les Merton, author of the Official Encyclopedia of the Cornish Pasty is defiant, however. He dates the origin of the Cornish pasty to about 8000BC.

We asked the outspoken Ellison Millinocket, SQA’s spokesman for the South West Euro Region based in Taunton, Somerset, to comment on recent events.

Laughable, absolutely laughable. I’ve been watching the Devonians and Cornish trashing each other in the media for years. This is the best one yet. Someone needs to do the Cornish a great favour by telling them Cornwall once extended all the way from Shropshire to Land’s End and its capital was originally Wroxeter, home of the Romano-British Cornovarii family who were given feudal sway over and gave their name to the south-west of Britain, including Wales. The Cornish are therefore no different in origin to the rest of us in the south west.

How then Bernard Deacon, a lecturer at the Institute of Cornish Studies at Exeter University could argue in A Cornish National Minority Report (1999) that the Cornish have a distinct historic identity, with origins that are non-English. There are also a number of constitutional, linguistic and cultural differences is uncertain, especially as all this might also be said of other English counties. (Kent had gavelkind and lathes, the east midlands had wapentakes, and so on.) This is of course a rhetorical question: the explanation is divide and rule, a major plank of EU policy.

Morale among supporters of Cornish independence collapsed when they discovered the EU and UK government's plan is not to create a Cornish regional parliament but rather to retain Cornwall as part of the South West Euro Region based on Taunton and the EU Arc Manche Interreg Region. The irony is that outside the EU, the Cornish might have had a chance in the fulness of time, although their spoken language died more than a century ago with a significant part of its vocuabulary and, as with ancient Greek and Latin, no-one alive actually knows how it was pronounced.

Interestingly, Devon also had a stannary parliament which last met in 1748, in other words about the same time from which Cornwall's own pasty recipe dates.

So much for Cornish differences then! Ellison continued.

As for a recipe going back 8000 years, pull the other one. At that time our ancestors were hunter-gatherers not pastry chefs.

Further reading

Cornwall Record Office's hard-rock mining industry records Designation Status

The Guardian 13 November 2006 click here

Disappearing Britain: The EU and the Death of Local Government by Lindsay Jenkins, 2005

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