Archive for June 25th, 2009

Beach at St. Ives, Cornwall

Porthminster Beach

Virginia Woolf’s good name has been used to sell many things. Now it is being used to sell 76 acres of beachfront property in Cornwall.

Upton Towans beach, near Hayle, is up for auction with a guide price of £50,000, and it is being billed as “the location for Virginia Woolf’s 1927 work To The Lighthouse.”

Well, not exactly. At least as far as I can determine.

Upton Towans beach is situated in the northeast of St. Ives Bay and is known for its surfing. Virginia and her family frequented Porthminster beach on the southern edge of St. Ives, which is a longtime favorite of swimmers, sunbathers and picnickers instead.

If you travel to St. Ives by train, Porthminster beach is the crescent-shaped slice of white sand and blue sea you encounter when you step off the platform. It is a lovely spot, easily reached by foot from Talland House, which Virginia and her family visited each summer until their mother Julia died in May 1895.

remembering st ivesIn Virginia’s time at St. Ives, a path led from Talland House through Primrose Valley, an area filled with gardens and orchards, to the beach. There the Stephen family swam, picnicked and explored the rock pools, according to Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell: Remembering St. Ives by Marion Dell and Marion Whybrow.

Their book, published in 2003 by Tabb House Publishers, is a real find for anyone who wants to learn more about Virginia’s favorite spot in Cornwall.


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