Bust of John Passmore Edwards

The Autobiography of John Passmore Edwards

Village Institutions


Blackwater Institute I began this work in 1889 by building a lecture and reading room in Blackwater, my native village.9 That was followed by a school and meeting-room at St. Day; by a literary institute at Chacewater, and afterwards by a miners and mechanics' institute at St. Agnes-all within three or four miles of Blackwater. One reason why I supplied these buildings was that the villages mentioned were closely interwoven with recollections of boyhood's days and dreams
Distance of time, as well as distance of space, lends enchantment to many views and things. There is scarcely a more unromantic part of Cornwall than the district in which these villages are situated. But, when visited after the absence of half a century, or surveyed through the telescope of memory, they appear mellow tinted. Another reason was that London and other large towns are rapidly growing, at the expense of the provinces and the ultimate strength. of the nation. St Day School and Meeting Room, now used as the village church
Chacewater Institute, converted to two dwellings in 2003 If London, as Cobbett said a hundred years ago, was the "wen of civilisation," what is it now, when it is four or five times as large? And what is it likely to become should it go on increasing, in a similar ratio, for another hundred years? If so, it will more likely carry with it probabilities of national decay than certainties of national advancement. One reason why so many gravitate to the large towns and tread so closely on each other's heels is that village life is generally dull and monotonous; and one way to make it more attractive would be
to multiply village institutions, reading-rooms, clubs, and recreations. This is a question more closely connected with national well-being than is generally supposed, and entitled to more attention than it has hitherto received.  
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April 18, 2005
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© Dean Evans 2003