Funds secured for restoration of poet's home
The dying wish of Launceston's most famous son, the poet Charles Causley, has moved a step closer with major funding secured to convert his home into a writers' retreat.
The volunteers of the Charles Causley Trust were yesterday celebrating a £50,000 grant from Arts Council England towards the renovation of No 2 Cyprus Well, the cottage where Causley lived for more than 40 years and wrote many of his poems.
The funding unlocks a further £112,500 from Cornwall Council and in-kind support from Launceston Town Council.
"We're delighted," said Kent Stanton, chairman of the trust and a close friend of the poet – a much-loved primary school teacher in the town – who died ten years ago aged 86.
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"This is what he wanted to happen when he died, and we are finally getting there. We now need to raise £7,000 in match funding and then we can go ahead with the restoration. It is very exciting to get it going after such a long time."
The house needs major structural repairs as well as central heating to transform it into a space to welcome both established and emerging writers, just as the poet wanted. It will also be open to the public on occasion.
"It was Charles's wish that the house was used for the benefit of others and that is what we are trying to do," said Mr Stanton, who got to know the poet through running the bookshop in Launceston, where Causley was a regular customer.
"We hope prestigious writers will come to finish off work, and that those with potential will come as well for retreats. They'll get the aura of Charles's house, and feel his presence and it may help them to think and write. That is what it is all about."
Charles Causley, acknowledged as one of the finest 20th century poets, was a modest man who despite winning many awards, including the Queen's Gold Medal, preferred the quiet life in Launceston.
He was born in the town, and lived there all his life, apart from wartime service in the Navy and teacher training afterwards. He returned to the town to teach at the National School, where he is remembered with affection by former pupils, alongside quietly establishing a reputation as a poet for both children and adults. One of his most memorable poems for children is Timothy Winters, a poem about a disadvantaged boy who was perhaps like some he taught. Accessible but clever, jaunty but full of pathos, it is included in many anthologies.
"He was a very unassuming man with an incredible talent, and a love of children and writing," said Mr Stanton. "He was always keen to support anyone who needed his support, to give them a chance."
Restoring his house, he said, would allow that ambition to be realised. "It has Charles Causley's presence and charisma. As you go into the house you can feel it."