Cousin Jennys

20130408_141312Now I’ve mentioned what Henry did with regards to the house, he and family basically made it, but what did Phillippa do? Well, as a ‘Cousin Jenny’ she kept the inside of the house spotless, this was very much a Cornish trait, Cousin Jenny’s were always dusting, polishing and cleaning, as money became available the house was slowly improved upon with wall paper and better floors.

In the home, Phillippa was dominant. She ran the house and the domestic side of the family, as was tradition back then as women were not really to work and rarely employed, much different to today. When it came to money matters though, it was always a joint decision, though like all marriages there were occasional disagreements. Henry, being the gentleman that he was, never argued with Phillippa but he did get mad with her, during such times he had a standard response until either he cooled down or she relented. When he was angry, he would leave the house, banging the door and singing loudly (somewhere between a flat tune and a growl) “Hold the Fort, for I am coming.”

Unlike most Cornish men, Henry did not have a singing voice, because of this, he was not a typical Cornishman. He couldn’t hold a note and was tone deaf, he certainly didn’t have a voice for singing either. His family though were the opposite.


A common thing was that a Cousin Jenny was not satisfied until her last room was carpeted or had a carpet square on the floor, a harmonium against a wall with a book of Wesley Hymns on top, and a round table and some polished cedar chairs with crocheted antimacassars spread over the back of them.

Phillippa was no exception and there is some of her crocheting on display in the Hall next to the Mines Church, also a cloth with embroidered signatures of some of the ladies of the church, this cloth also includes Phillippa and Henry’s names. Phillippa had at least learnt how to write her name, which is really nice, otherwise we may not have had this wonderful memory of her.

Family photographs were very important and held pride of place in the house, in the best room, this best room with it’s easy chairs was not for everyday use, it was for Sundays and visitors.  There was a full set of china in this room but was hardly ever used as it was for show and to add style to the room. Phillippa would have marvelled at this and the increased style of living she now had compared to how things would have been had she stayed in Cornwall.

Next I’ll tell you about the house they lived in and how some things are still the same as today and how much we’ve lost in the past.


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