Curriculum Kernewek

Cornwall Agreed Syllabus 2011

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+ Guide to Cornish Institutions

Aside from obviously Christian organisations such as denominations, churches and faith groups, Christianity has also shaped a range of other institutions in Cornwall, for instance, schools. Although Truro Grammar School had existed since 1547, most children across Cornwall had limited access to education. Small Dame schools charged weekly fees but these were unaffordable for many families. In the 19th century non-conformist communities set out to ensure that people could read the Bible. Many children worked in the mines and other industries and their only day off was on a Sunday. As a result, Sunday Schools were opened alongside chapels, teaching reading, writing, simple maths and religion. Denominations later opened daily schools like the Truro Wesleyan Middle Class College (later to become Truro School) in 1880. Links between churches and schools remain today, the Diocese of Truro has 44 Church Schools, 36 Voluntary Aided Schools and 8 Voluntary Controlled Schools, ensuring that pupils are educated within a Christian environment.

Many of the silver and brass bands in Cornwall today find their roots in non-conformist chapels. For instance, Pendeen Band was started in 1892 by Mr. J. H. Ellis, the organist at Carnyorth Free Church. The enjoyment of hymns and music in non-conformist chapels increased the use of instruments and many of the bands which formed regularly played at community events. This involvement of brass bands in church and community life in Cornwall was observed by Rev. F. J. Horsefield: “Dissenters have their Sunday School parades accompanied by various bands, followed by tea parties on a large scale. On Midsummer Day the Church people hold their festival with the schoolchildren perambulating the district to the music of two brass bands, afterwards having buns and tea in a field opposite the Church – (fun, bonfires and gunpowder explosions)”.

Christianity has also influenced political organisations and public bodies in Cornwall. For instance, in 2012 Cornwall Council suspended their tradition of holding prayers at the beginning of council meetings. This was in response to recent a High Court ruling against prayers being included in an agenda under the Local Government Act 1972. Prayers have now been reinstated and occur before the meetings, for councillors who wish to participate, a decision which has been praised by the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro: "Prayers at the beginning of council meetings are a way of setting the responsibilities of elected councillors within the wider moral context that acknowledges the past, present and future role of Christianity in this country. They also reflect the prayers that take place daily in Parliament.

Individuals and organisations shaped by Christian values and beliefs include:

+ The Foxes of Falmouth - a wealthy Quaker family. Their strong religious belief governed their way of life and many people in Falmouth benefited from their money and time. The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society was set up by them in 1833 to see development and economic growth in Cornwall through eliciting ‘the inventive powers of the young through advancement of the useful arts’. The Society successfully encouraged innovation through financial awards, medals and exhibitions. It played a key role in the development of numerous important inventions and became a key player in the Industrial Revolution in Cornwall.

+ John Passmore Edwards of Blackwater - a journalist and newspaper owner. He became known as a philanthropist, using his wealth to create libraries, hospitals, schools, art galleries and enabling institutions for public good to flourish in Cornwall and beyond. Self-education led Passmore Edwards to develop the philosophical and political standpoints which led to his philanthropy but his Christian upbringing by a Baptist mother and Wesleyan father may also have shaped his significant contribution to society during Victorian times and later legacy.

+ Emily Hobhouse of St Ive - a welfare campaigner. She became the secretary of the women's branch of the South African Conciliation Committee during the time of the Boer Wars and was horrified to find that African women and children were being kept in concentration camps by the British Government. Through visits to the camps and vigorous campaigning Emily Hobhouse managed to raise awareness of, and alleviate, their suffering. After the First World War, she was also active in raising funds and organising food to support the welfare of women and children in Central Europe. Her Christian upbringing may have influenced her concern for and tireless work towards the welfare of others.

+ Charities like the Seafarers Mission, St John Ambulance and the Samaritans are all examples of national organisations with Christian roots that have become established in Cornwall.

+ St Petroc’s Society was the first organisation in Cornwall to provide accommodation and housing related support services to meet the needs of the single homeless. Formed in 1986 at the instigation of the Bishop of St Germans, it has considerable support from all the churches, local communities and dedicated groups of ‘Friends’.