Orchard Cottage sits high at the top of Belle Vue in the historic conservation area that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had been considered the fourth village in Newlyn, the area of larger properties on the outskirts of the village around Belle Vue, which the locals call “Uplong”.
Higher Belle Vue (now Orchard Cottage) was built before 1777
The cottage is still in existence today and from the road is one long, black tarred and almost windowless wall with a garden door at the far end.
Step through this door and from the dark and shaded street a different world opens up before the visitor, in summer a vast and sunlit panorama across the whole of Mount’s Bay. The harbour filled with brightly coloured fishing boats lies below and straight ahead and beyond the harbour lies Mount’s Bay with the iconic St Michaels Mount – a scene of stunning beauty and countless paintings. A Google image search of Newlyn harbours reveals 100’s of paintings showing how popular this iconic view remains today
Jill Garnier and Geoffrey Garnier were cousins who met and fell in love whilst both attending the Forbes School of painting in Newlyn in the Summer term of 1913.
It was pure coincidence that they were both in Newlyn at the same time. She was 21 and he was 23. She was staying at Myrtle Cottage, (a listed building close to the site) which was run by Mrs Tregurtha who already had several years of experience of caring for young female students including Dod Shaw, recently married to fellow student Ernest Procter and Winifrid Tennyson Jesse.
Every morning Geoffrey and Jill walked independently down the hill to arrive at the Forbes School of Painting by 9.15. Classes were held at the meadow where three wooden studios had been built. One of these studios is called Anchor Studio and is at the boundary of the site – it is listed because like the Garnier studio’s it is of historical importance and like the Garniers studio’s it remains to this day a working artists studio.
Anchor Studio and Trewarveneth Studio, Newlyn
(At the boundary of the development site)
The artist John Wells bequeathed these two studios to the Trust in 2002. Anchor Studio was built by Stanhope Forbes in the 1880s, and is the last remaining studio from the Newlyn School still in its original layout. It is now Grade II listed. Trewarveneth Studio was formerly the local infant school, but since 1967 had been used as studios by John Wells and Denis Mitchell. This building was renovated in 2007 to create six artists’ studios – two of the present artists Rose Hilton and Richard cook have objected to the application. See their representations at the link below
Marriage in St Peter’s Church Newlyn July 1917
The couple were married on 9 July 1917 at St Peter’s Church in Newlyn.
The Garniers move to Orchard Cottage in August 1917
In August 1917 they took a lease on ORCHARD COTTAGE, one of two semi-detached cottages that backed onto Belle Vue in Newlyn with its incredible views of Newlyn Harbour and Mounts Bay that remain to this day.
Garniers buy Orchard Cottages and the land around them in April 1922
On 13 April 1922 the applicant’s grandparent bought ORCHARD Cottage they had previously leased, the cottage next door and the acre of land around them, the “orchard” for £1,913 which is worth around £76,000 in today’s money. They converted the cottages into one house by putting doorways in the dividing wall creating a series of rooms with magnificent views over Mount’s Bay that are still in existence today.
Studios built circa 1922
Geoffrey had a large studio; thirty by eighteen foot built in the garden, and tucked into the steep sloop. As was traditional for Newlyn Studios, it was built of wood with a corrugated iron roof, through an end wall with a chimney was out of stone. This studio is still there today and has been in continuous use as an artists studio from 1922 to the present day i.e. or a total of 92 years. Jill’s studio, rather smaller, was built at the very bottom of the garden. She juggled the demands of caring for her 3 children, running the house with painting making her an important figure in the history of women painters in Cornwall. In later years she had the studio moved the top of the garden next to Orchard Cottage which remains in existence today. Jill Garnier died on 22 Feb 1966 she had created an impressive body of work and Penlee House Museum and Art Gallery held a retrospective of her work.
Geoffrey Garnier –his working Day and his studio
Every morning at 9 o’clock Geoffrey Garnier would go to his studio with its huge printing press and work there throughout the day, taking exactly one hour for lunch where he rejoined Jill in the house. He finished work promptly at 5 o’clock repeating the routine every day of the week except Sunday. Through constant practice, trial and error, he developed his skills to the highest degree, mastering all the complex processes of etching and engraving. No Newlyn artists developed intaglio, the Italian for “cut into” to the same extent as Geoffrey Garnier. He was unique in producing work that had not been seen in England for a hundred years.
Geoffrey Garnier 1924 – gains recognition for his work after only 2 years in his studio
Geoffrey Garnier started achieving recognition for his works in 1924 and he exhibited The Three Crosses at the Royal Academy. An edition of the Sphere in 1924 devoted a page to 3 articles of his work stating:
“The two etchings and one aquatint reproduced on this page are the work of the only member of the Newlyn School of Artists who has taken up this medium. During the past year, many charming plates have been etched and printed in his studio, overlooking Newlyn Harbour..”
Geoffrey Garnier perfected the complex process of Aquatint and recurring motifs running through his work were wooden ships and St Michaels Mount – his aquatint of Lamorna Cove an outstanding example of his technical mastery of the process.
Orchard Cottage – painting and scrapbooks – 1920’s – 1966
Jill Garnier transcripted all the deeds and legal documents relating to Orchard Cottage dating back to the eighteen century revealing her devotion to the house and her scrapbooks are still in existence today including 2 scrapbooks on the Newlyn Clearances that are in the Morrab Library. She continued to paint her children and still life’s . Her oil painting entitled View over Newlyn from Orchard Cottage depicts a view that is unchanged today in 1914.
Newlyn Gallery and St Ives Society Exhibitions 1930’s – 1950’s
The Garniers jointly exhibited at the two local galleries and the publication 100 years in Newlyn Diary of a Gallery published in 1995 illustrates this point. They were loyal members of the NSA exhibiting at the Newlyn Gallery through their lives and serving on selection and hanging committees.
The Garniers remained in contact with the old students of Forbes School of art and enjoyed and remained throughout their marriage in contact the artists including Seal Weatherby20, Midge Bruford, Stanhope Forbes21, Dodd and Ernest Proctor,22 Frank and Jessica Heath, and Phyllis Goytch who lived with her mother at Wheal Betsy.
Although he loved the past Geoffrey Garnier had a love of cars manifested in his 21- horse power Austro Daimler and his garage remains at Orchard cottage with its original inspection pit.
The Clearances – Fighting destruction then and now.
Geoffrey Garnier was good friends with the locals and was actively involved in fighting the clearances of the Newlyn houses in the mid 1930’s. The artists were outraged about the destruction of the fishermen’s cottages and narrow streets that had drawn the artists to Newlyn in the first place. It was a situation that arose Garniers fighting spirit.
It represented everything that he was most opposed to; the destruction of the old order and the desecration of beauty by faceless bureaucrats from the town council.
In the 1937 harbour sports programme Garnier wrote a combative editorial on the clearances, a farewell to the village he knew.
“The old courts. The old narrow streets, the picturesque cottages, all that Newlyn people have known since childhood, will be tumbling in ruins…all will be but a memory..Newlyn must go…So Good-bye to old Newlyn! You are condemned to be destroyed”
This is your chance to stop history repeating itself and save the last remaining green space rich in Newlyn School history (historic asset) in Old Town Newlyn Conservation area for present and future generations.