Bernard Leach and Daniel Jenkyn
Daniel Jenkyn has the honour of being the first Bahá'í in Cornwall. He lived in Bowling Green Terrace ,St Ives and he worked for the Edward Hain Steamship Company.
Daniel first heard about the Bahá'í faith from Miss Dorothy Hodgson whom he met on a train journey to London. At this time he was just twenty-seven years old He was very inspired by his new found faith, and in a letter he wrote, "This is a time of transition, don't you think so? We are passing out of one period and at the beginning of a new and better one. On the one hand, people are sick of the old and on the other hand they have not yet realised the glory of the new.... It is the Holy Spirit that alone can bring about the oneness of humanity... Apart from this spirit, I believe, that societies, however noble, or men however earnest, cannot do permanent good."
Daniel's wish to let others know of this wondeful new message inspired him to walk to Liverpool sharing the Bahá'í teachings with all those he met on the way. OZ Whitehead's book `Some Bahai's to Remember` describes a Mr Edward Hall's visit to Daniel:
Edward arrived at St Ives at the time expected .One day he and Daniel took a long enjoyable walk from St Ives through Zennor to Gurnard's Head . While they paused for a few moments at this last named place, among the 'great rocks,green carpeted with grass here, gaunt rugged and primeval there overlooking the far spreading and restless Atlantic ocean.'
Later on he became the first Bahá'í to visit Holland for the purpose of introducing the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to that country.
On the occasion of a visit by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to this country in 1911, Daniel was able to attend several of his meetings. Later on he received letters of encouragement from 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
He must have felt at times very isolated, for he was so far from his fellow believers in a world, which was far less cosmopolitan than it is today. He wrote to a friend, "How fine it is to have someone so near with whom to share the precious truth! I wish I had, but no, my mother and sister care little for it and another whom I love very much does not see its beauty at all", and on another occasion, " I am looking forward very much to Mr. Hall's coming to Cornwall. I received a fine letter from him today. I wish you were coming as well, and I am sure we would have a delightful time together."
The above mentioned visit happened in the springtime of 1913 at Daniel's cottage in Bowling Green Terrace. Edward Hall wrote later of how the bedroom he was given the use of, "... overlooked the little harbour, the quaint roofs, and the blue-green water on which floated the fishing smacks."
There are letters describing how they walked daily by the harbour and through the local countryside, visiting local villages, discussing as they walked their new-found Faith, and how they could best touch the hearts of others with its vision of the oneness of humankind. One afternoon, after they had strolled from St. Ives to Lelant, they prayed there over the grave of the mother of another of the early British Bahá'ís, - Miss Ethel Rosenberg.
Several times they visited the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Wright, which had apparently become a regular haunt for visiting Bahá'ís. Daniel described Mr. Wright as a, " tall, slender, weather hardened, grey bearded fisherman," who in fact, previous to their first meeting, had already read about the early history of the Faith, and was keen to find out what had happened since the execution of the Báb, its initial founder.
The last evening of Edward's visit coincided with a Bahá'í Holy day commemorating the coming of the Divine Springtime. Together with Daniel and the Wrights this was celebrated at the house of a Mrs Vesal, a friend of the Faith. Edward described afterwards the "sweet reverence" of the evening in her drawing room, decorated as it was with flowers, " the sound of the sea and the pure fresh breeze coming in through the open window."
In the November after the outbreak of the first world war Daniel wrote, " I have had an attack of influenza from which I am quickly getting better and looking forward to being in much better working order than I have been of late... As you no doubt know, Miss Rosenburg is here in St. Ives, but I have not been able to see her yet."
Early in December, however, Daniel suffered a relapse from which he eventually died on the last day of 1914. His grave is in Barnoon cemetery, St. Ives.
TABLETS TO DANIEL JENKYN
Through his honor Mirza Ali Akbar Rafsanjani,
to his honor Mr. Daniel Jenkyn.
Upon him be Bahá'u'lláh-El-Abhá!
He is God!
O thou who art confirmed by the Divine Spirit!
A thousand times bravo because thou didst forego the physical comfort and rest in order to proclaim the glad-tidings of the heavenly illumination. Thou didst gird up the loins of service and traveled to Holland to diffuse the Fragrances of God. Shouldst thou realize how blessed is this trip, unquestionably thou wouldst not rest for one moment, and uninterruptedly thou wouldst engage in the promotion of the Cause of the Almighty. Thou didst well to hasten from London to Holland
.With his heart and spirit Abdu'l-Bahá was thy guide and companion. Although in body he was far, yet in spirit he was near. I hope from the bestowals of the Lord of Hosts, His Holiness the Promised One, that this voyage may assume the importance of the voyage of Peter and Paul when the latter went to Antioch . Consider what important results that voyage had. Now the results of thy journey will be greater than that. Know thou this of a certainty.
Upon thee be Bahá’u’l-Abhá! I
(Signed) 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas.
Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab,
Nov. 19, 1913 , Ramleh , Egypt Through Aga Mirza Lotfullah Hakim, London
to Mr. Daniel Jenkyn.
Upon him be Bahá'u'lláh-El-Abhá!
He is God!
O thou who art attracted to the Truth!
Many of the philosophers of the world and the great men of different nations wished to attain the Truth, but they were deprived. Then praise thou God that thou hast reached to the essence of the Truth and thou hast heard the proclamation of the Kingdom and the teachings of the Lord of Hosts. Through this great favor thou hast prospered and become victorious.
I pray, on thy behalf, that thou mayest become the proclaimer of God in that city, that thou mayest awake the sleepers and warn the negligent; that thou mayest become lighted like a torch and bestow the light of guidance.
Upon thee be Bahá'u'l-Abhá!
(Signed) 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas.
Location of Daniel Jenkyn's Grave - Barnoon Cemetery StIves which is directly behind the Tate Gallery in St Ives. There is a car park adjacent to the cemetery but parking in StIves in seasonal periods is well nigh impossible. A far better option is to take the park and ride from Lelant or St Erth railway station. The branch line railway is very picturesque , inexpensive and would have been familiar to Daniel Jenkyn.
The next record of a Bahá'í living in Cornwall was in the 1930's, again in St. Ives, when Bernard Leach regraded as "the Father of British Studio Pottery" endeavored to form, in his words, "a co-operative team of artist-craftsmen with a commonly felt sense of what is right... work which flows from the whole man, from the heart as well as from the head and hands."
Bernard Leach, C.H., C.B.E., was born in Hong Kong in 1887. After returning to England in 1897 to continue his schooling he then went on to study at the Slade School of Art in London. He later moved to Japan and learnt his pottery craft under the Sixth Kenzan. On his return from Japan in the 1920's with the help of Shoji Hamada, he started his pottery in St. Ives, to which students from all over the world have since come to work and learn their craft. He first met the Bahá'í Faith through the American artist Mark Tobey during his stay at Dartington Hall between 1932 and 1934. After leaving Dartington for the East, Bernard examined all that he had learnt from his friend Mark Tobey and felt compelled to declare his acceptance of the Bahá'í Faith.
The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh had a profound effect on Bernard not only on his personal life, but also his understanding of the nature of art as an outward expression of the spiritual core of a person.
In later years Bernard corresponded with Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, the widow of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. The photograph to the left shows Amatul Baha consulting Bernard prior to undertaking a visit to Japan.
(photograph courtesy of Dermod Knox)
His work revolutionized pottery and enabled it to be given the distinction of being a true art form. He received during his lifetime the highest recognition for his work, both in this country and in Japan. He also influenced many artists with his synthesis of East and West, a theme of great importance to him that ran through all aspects of his life. In 1953 he wrote, " I don't know if I have justified my existence as a potter. I think I had a small genuine gift and a strange calling in a great cause - the meeting of East and West. But I have come, during the last year, to see that the meeting in art and craft is only a fragment of a far greater vision - Bahá'u'lláh's, of the unity and maturity of Mankind..."
Beyond East and West was Bernard's last book and provided a fascinating overview of his philosophy - a good starting point for anyone wishing to know more.
Also of note is Rob Weinberg's Spinning the Clay Into Stars vhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Spinning-Clay-Stars-Bernard-Leach/dp/0853984409 this concentrates more on Bernard's adherence to the Bahai teachings.
The Leach Pottery has now been completely restored and can be visited in StIves http://www.leachpottery.com/
Location of Bernard Leach's resting place - Longstone Cemetry , about two miles outside StIves at Longstone Hill, Carbis Bay, St Ives,Cornwall,TR26 2SX
Enter the graveyard and you will come to a roundabout - if you enter the roundabout at 6 o'clock then 2 o'clock will point toward Bernard Leach's resting place in the upper portion of the cemetery.
Another method of locating the grave is to find the two large pine trees just off the roundabout - if you stand between them and face uphill, then the very furthest slate gravestones at the top of the slope are those of Bernard and his devoted secretary Gertrude (Trudi Scott).