The Minack Theatre: a worthy bucket list addition

Two photographs caught my eye when I was flicking through a very old copy of the National Geographic magazine.

The first was a photograph of the Minack Theatre (a famous open-air theatre in Britain):

Photo of Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre, courtesy of the Minack Theatre
Photo of Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrrow
Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrow, courtesy of the Minack Theatre

The second photograph in the same article was of an elderly woman, Rowena Cade, sitting in an upright wheelbarrow. I’d never thought of using a wheelbarrow as a seat, but it looks pretty comfy!!

Between 1931 and 1983 (when she died) Rowena Cade planned, built and financed the Minack (in Cornish this means ‘a rocky place’) Theatre. This stunning theatre is carved into the granite rocks of Porthcurno in Cornwall.

An extract from the Minack Theatre’s website describes how this was built by Rowena Cade and two men:

“During that first winter of 1931-32, she laboured as apprentice to her gardener Billy Rawlings and his mate Charles Thomas Angove. Using the skills of the two men, granite was cut by hand from a pile of tumbled boulders. Stones were inched into place. The terraces were in-filled with earth, small stones and pebbles shovelled down from the higher ledges. All this work took place on the slope above a sheer drop into the Atlantic.”

Rowena had a superb mix of qualities including creativity, foresight, ingenuity, and sheer determination. She overcame so many obstacles: a challenging location; physical constraints; a world war where resources, money and materials were scarce; and age (she worked on the theatre until her mid-eighties!).

What an inspiring woman and what a remarkable achievement! Just the sort of inspiration many of us in Christchurch like to hear about now that we are faced with a long rebuild journey ahead of us.

The Minack Theatre has been added to my bucket list. If you have included an inspirational addition to your bucket list lately I’d love to hear about it.

Logo of the National Geographic Virtual LibraryAside from the National Geographic magazines that you can find in our libraries, library members can also access the digital archive of the National Geographic magazine. Coverage is from 1888 onwards up until the most recent issues and includes articles, maps and photos. The National Geographic Virtual Library is a fantastic resource to browse through.

Thank you to Phil Jackson, Theatre Manager of the Minack Theatre, for providing permission to use the images contained in this blog post.

2 thoughts on “The Minack Theatre: a worthy bucket list addition

  1. Gallivanta 26 August 2013 / 12:45 pm

    A remarkable place and a remarkable woman.

  2. Robyn 30 August 2013 / 5:37 pm

    Visiting this magical place was dream for years after a well-traveled colleague sent a postcard back to an envious team. When the dream came true it was better than imagined. It truly was inspirational and the long trip to Cornwall was worth it. Land’s End on the other hand…

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