03.09.2012 - 04.09.2012 18 °C
Are we in England?
During a trip to through Cornwall, England in September 2012 we thought at one point we had made a mistake and had ended up in the wrong country. Out there in the water we saw an island that bore a close resemblance to Mont Saint-Michel in France with its tidal island characteristics and it conical shape.
And, as we learned, its not even a coincidence: The island was given to the Benedictines, the religious order of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, by Edward the Confessor in the 11th century. St Michael's Mount or "The Mount", as the locals call it, with its imposing castle, has gone through various ownerships, after Henry VIII abolished the priory. The museum in the castle depicts the often violent history, sieges, and battles in many paintings and etchings. The St. Aubin family retained a 999-year lease after donating it to the National Trust in 1954, and one of the Lord's nephews lives in a part of the castle and manages the island's operations.
Chevy Chase on the "Mount"
We took at small boat over during high tide, visited the castle and walked back across the causeway during low tide. The causeway and the harbor as well as the palm trees can be seen on the picture on the left looking out towards the town of Marazion, only a few miles from Penzance, the most westerly major town in Cornwall and home to the pirates in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera.
During our visit of the castle we were intrigued by the name of the Chevy Chase room. and one of the guides explained to us that the name comes from the plaster frieze depicting hunting scenes of the Ballad of Chevy Chase: "The ballads tell the story of a large hunting party upon a parcel of hunting land (or chase) in the Cheviot Hills, hence the term, Chevy Chase." There is actually another more linguistic explanation for the name, which can be found on the site of the Chevy Chase Historical Society: "Chevy Chase may have been derived from the French word 'chevauchee' used in medieval Scotland and England to describe the horseback raids made into the ancient borderlands between the two countries."
(Americans may recall the name "Chevy Chase" more as the Maryland town or the actor of the same name. His grandmother reportedly thought "Chevy" was a clever addition to his real last name, relating both to the ballad and to him as a descendant of the Scottish Clan Douglas.)