On a rare, sunny day this October, the town of Marazion in Cornwall, England glistened white as a 12-passenger motorboat returned us there from the tidal island of St. Michael’s Mount. The Naked Hiker and I, plus two Quaker friends, had spent a couple hours touring The Mount’s former abbey-now-turned private residence and historic site. That visit could (and perhaps someday, will) fill an entire post alone.
But an unexpected encounter was equally fascinating when we disembarked in Marazion and strolled cobblestone streets in search of the town’s Quaker meetinghouse.
Meetinghouse Road, now known as Beacon Road, wound upward past Brewery Lane to a small, stone, cottage-style building. A simple sign identified it as Marazion Quaker Meeting. It being a weekday, the Meetinghouse, built in 1689, was vacant. However, we still enjoyed peeking in the windows and reading names and dates on headstones in the meetinghouse burial ground.
As we walked back to the “car park,” a window in a house along the way caught our attention. A dozen squares of glass seemed to tell a story. What that story was, though, was a mystery to us. As two women approached the doorway, I realized this was probably the home of one of them.
“Pardon us for studying your window,” I said. “We were admiring the glasswork.”
“Oh, no problem at all,” the white-haired woman said. “Would you like to come in and learn more about it?”
Her invitation required no deliberations among the four of us. We followed her through the wrought iron gate and into the house.
First, our guide took us past the window and into the garage; we squeezed in next to her compact, lemon yellow car.
With her wooden cane, she pointed out the written record of the building she calls home. From 1771 until 2003, it was “The Store Marazion,” serving many commercial needs. Before its conversion to a residence for Mrs. M.B. Greenwood-Penny (“That’s me, I’m Mrs. P.”), our guide herself used the space to create costumes for Cornwall’s nearly-ninety-year-old, open-air Minack Theatre.
I’ll let Mrs. P. take it from here to narrate the history-in-glass of her home.
Since Mrs. P. lives on the former Meetinghouse Road, I let her know the four of us are Quakers and asked if she is, too.
“No,” she said, “but I admire them. And sometimes when I get myself in trouble, I go up there and sit with them.”
How fortunate for us that Mrs. P. happened by after our visit to Marazion Meetinghouse. I don’t know what kind of trouble she might get herself into, but it’s obvious she’s still bringing pleasure and honor to her community’s history. The website for Christmas in Marazion acknowledges the “Greenwood Penny Christmas Tree” in the Square.
Happy Holidays Mrs. P.!