Telling Our Story: Cornish Women’s History Celebrates £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant

Call to Women, part of the Judith Cook archive We are delighted to announce that the Hypatia Trust of Penzance, Cornwall, is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant.

This exciting project called History 51: Unveiling Women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has been given £10,000 to encourage people to reconnect with the history of 51% of our population, and to champion historical female role models.

All Our Stories

All Our Stories, a brand new small grant programme – launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story – has been designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage. With HLF funding and support, community groups will carry out activities that help people explore, share and celebrate their local heritage.

Clearly the success of All Our Stories has reinforced the fact that we are indeed a nation of story tellers and that we want to explore and dig deeper into our past and discover more about what really matters to us. This is exactly what the grant will do for the History 51 project as they embark on a real journey of discovery. (Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West)

The popular series presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events got thousands of us asking questions about our history and inspired us to look at our history in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.

This project gives a voice to the women of Cornwall and Scilly. So much research has illustrated how girls' voices become silenced as they grow to womanhood, and we hope that this project acts as a spur to girls and women everywhere, giving them the courage to be all they can be. (Polly Attwood, Director, Hypatia Trust)

One of our readers with Elizabeth Forbes's 'King Arthur's Wood'

Exploring women's lives and achievements in Cornwall and Scilly

The Hypatia Trust’s mission is record and promote the literary, artistic and scientific works of women in their communities. The Trust founded the Elizabeth Treffry Collection in 1996 to be the antidote to the domination of Cornish heritage by stories of ‘great men’. It now contains over 3000 books and archives that bear witness to the lives and achievements of the women who have shaped Cornish and Scillonian society and culture.

Following our success with the national Hidden Treasures Campaign in June we are absolutely thrilled to receive this award which will help more people be inspired by the women who have shaped Cornish history. (Melissa Hardie, Founder of the Hypatia Trust)

What History 51 will do

History 51 is inviting volunteers to come and explore the collection and to choose from a range of subjects and personalities that interest them, or to bring their own stories to be documented. They will receive free training to research, catalogue and author information which will help build an innovative online resource called the Cornish Women’s Index. Over the next year six free community workshops on themes such as writing, health and business, will be held across Cornwall where anyone can come to debate and learn more about the heritage of women.

This collection is so important to Cornish heritage but at the moment it is little known. I can’t wait to work with more people to help discover its treasures. If you love women and you love Cornwall and Scilly, come and join History 51! (Tehmina Goskar, Honorary Curator of the Elizabeth Treffry Collection)

The project will represent women from across the centuries. It was a woman, Alice de Lisle, who won the right to hold a market in Penzance in 1332, it was Dame Elizabeth Treffry who led the defence of Fowey against French raiders in the fifteenth century, Elizabeth Carne of Phillack was a celebrated geologist, writer and banker in the mid-nineteenth century and Violetta Thurstan, nurse and expert weaver and dyer, has been the subject of a major exhibition at Penryn Museum.

History 51 needs you! Get involved!

Do you want to take part or find out more? Register for History 51 Online. Or please contact Curator, Tehmina Goskar at the Hypatia Trust on 01736 366597. Go to full project details.

More information

The Hypatia Trust is based at Trevelyan House, 16 Chapel Street, Penzance, a charity that exists to further the understanding of woman and her achievements. For more information:

All Our Stories is a new, simple, funding programme for 2012 with grants available ranging from £3,000-£10,000 developed so everyone can get involved in their heritage. From researching local historic landmarks, learning more about customs and traditions to delving into archives and finding out the origins of street and place names All Our Stories will give everyone the chance to explore their heritage and share what they learn with others. This programme is now closed to new applications and decisions were made in October 2012.

Heritage Lottery Fund. Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic, places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,000 projects, allocating £4.9billion across the UK. Website:

Heritage Lottery Fund