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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

A Cornish conundrum

Updated: Sep 7, 2019

Last Sunday was my parents' wedding anniversary. Sadly, neither are alive to celebrate what would have been 64 years as husband and wife.

As I mentioned in a comment on last week's blog, on every anniversary of my parents' wedding, Mum would dig out the photograph album she'd put together of their honeymoon and share it with me and my sister.

Alongside the photos, she'd pasted other mementos of their holiday - theatre programmes for shows they'd seen, the bill and receipt from the hotel where they'd stayed and even car parking tickets!

The hotel bill - £29 8s for 2 weeks full board!

She'd also drawn "Cornish pixies" in between the photographs! She liked drawing. And pixies. She used to write stories about fairies and elves which lived at the bottom of the garden. But, I digress!

The hotel they stayed in was called, Gresham, located on a road called Mount Wise. I Googled the hotel name to see if it still existed but drew a blank, though what I did find may have a connection.

In May 1940, with the country at war and the situation worsening in Europe, the governors of Gresham's boys boarding school in Norfolk, decided the pupils in their care should be evacuated to a safer part of the country. They placed an advertisement in The Times seeking alternative accommodation.

Two hotels in Newquay, Cornwall - The Pentire and The Bay - responded and on 25th June 244 boys (the entire school) were evacuated to the Cornish town, where they remained for the next four years.

Gresham's school still exists and from an article on its website entitled, Newquay - Way Out West, it's clear that the evacuees took full advantage of the wonderful location in which they found themselves. As the headteacher's report of the time notes, "When not at lessons, boys were kept busy with surfing, swimming, beach soccer, tennis, rounders and golf. "

The Bay Hotel, Newquay during WWII (thanks to Gresham's School for use of photograph)

Interestingly, The Bay Hotel is described as having a fantastic view overlooking Fistral Bay. Fistral was my parents' favourite beach and they chose it as the name for their first house. Had The Bay been renamed Gresham after its wartime guests, I wondered?

But that's highly unlikely, however nice the story would be. There are still two hotels in Newquay called, The Bay and The Pentire and both are closer to Fistral Bay than the hotel in Mount Wise where my parents stayed.

So why was their hotel called Gresham? A coincidence? Did the owners have a connection with the school? Mr & Mrs F A Cutler were the hotel's proprietors in 1956, but a quick search on Ancestry

hasn't revealed anything significant.

Maybe someone with a history of Newquay knows the answer!


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