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Home arrow Historical arrow Peninsular Notes arrow Christmas in Falmouth



Christmas in Falmouth Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 19 December 2011
News from abroad was always at a premium in "The Time of the Lines", and Falmouth , in Cornwall, was a key part of the communications network at that time. Fast "packet boats" carrying letters, parcels, dispatches, and sometimes large amounts of money, plied back and forth to Portuguese ports, largely unhindered by enemy action. The routes were sailed in all weathers throughout the year and included North America and the Caribbean. Here's an extract describing arrival in Falmouth at Christmas, written by Louis Simond1 (1767-1831), a French emigrée coming from America - and a good example of early "travel writing".
24th December, 1809

        We found ourselves, on waking this morning early, anchored on the harbour of Falmouth, where we had arrived in the night, after a speedy and prosperous passage of twenty-one days form America, without a single storm to describe, or any extraordinary occurrence. This harbour is a small basin, surrounded with gentle hills. Looking round, we saw green fields, with cattle grazing, - a grove of trees, - some pines, and many green tufts like laurels. The town of Falmouth, - little, old, and ugly, - was seen on our left, and another assemblage of little old houses on our right; Pendennis Castle behind us, on a mound near the entrance of the harbour. The air was calm and mild, - the sky of a very pale blue, - a light mist hung over the landscape, - and the general impression was peaceful and agreeable: on the surface of the water twenty or thirty ships, mostly packets, and two or three Dutch vessels with licenses, - a strange sort of trade!
        Falmouth packets

         Dinner announced, suspended our observations; it was served in our own apartments. We had three small dishes, dressed very inartificially (an English cook only boils and roasts), otherwise very good. The table linen and glass, and servants, remarkably neat, and in good order. At the dessert apples no bigger than walnuts, and without taste, which are said to be the best the country produces.
Christmas dinner

 December 25.--I have been this morning to the custom-house, with the other passengers, to get our passports. They obtained theirs without difficulty, but I must write to London for mine. Twenty-two years of absence have not expiated the original sin of being born in France: but I have no right to complain,--an Englishman would be worse off in France...
   So it seems that M. Simond was in for a busy - bureaucratic - Christmas,
   if not a particularly happy or profitable one...!
   (and clearly complaining about plain English cooking is no new fashion!)

1. "The Journal of a Tour and Residence in Great Britain", Louis Simond, see http://www.regencylibrary.com/simondone.htm
(accessed December 2011)
 
Last Updated ( Monday, 19 December 2011 )
 
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