ORLANDO ESSAYS Episode No. 3: On Lamorna by Ruth Guilding

Lamorna is magic, a place at the end of a line on the map, just before the Land’s End. It has always attracted those who are running away from themselves. This lends it mysteriousness and weirdness, but the rest of its strangeness is endemic, a spirit of place belonging to woods and water and granite dripped upon but never eroded, guarded by a necklace of sentinel standing stones.

Its Genius loci is female, a dryad or tree spirit who rustles and whispers in the mossy declivities along the valley stream. She shares her domain with its past dwellers and seekers, women painters who lived here before the first war in a Bloombury-ish community, Sapphists and green witches, ley-line mappers and counter culturalists from the 60s and 70s.Their principal is the Occultist, writer and painter, Ithell Colquhoun, who read Lamorna’s secrets and worshipped with its spirits, leaving us their scraps and traces in the pages of her books and painting.


This essay appeared in the Chateau Orlando autumn/winter 2023 "Storm Prince of the Old Cornish" mini zine.

Ruth Guilding is the author-inventor of Bible of British Taste and a design historian.