It’s funny sometimes how things happen out of the blue, so a telephone call from Mary Greer this weekend led to me meeting a party of 24 people, primarily American and Australian women, on a mystical tour of Cornwall and the SW. They were taking in Bude, the last resting place of tarot artist, Pamela Colman-Smith. No one quite knows exactly where Pamela was buried though it is at St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Bude. There are no official records as to her plot, given she had an unmarked grave (the joys of poverty) but there are strong beliefs that she was buried close to the wall/woods in the old part of the churchyard (a churchyard which does not seem to have any date order to it). That said, one source suggested that the records had been lost in a fire but it was more likely that Pamela would be in the newer churchyard. How to tell?
Well, the group of tarot readers, mediums and psychics, and just the plain interested, came equipped with dowsing rods and crystal pendulums, which was fascinating for me to watch. It was felt that the spot we eventually found was either the burial ground of Pamela, or a place to give thanks for her work on the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, artwork which was largely unacknowledged when she was alive, an anonymity which happened to many women artists in those days. A circle was formed to give thanks and to have silent contemplation or to say a few words. It felt very spiritual. The visit ended with the Bencoolen where owner Lorraine showed people around the area which used to be flats, where Pamela once lived. There are lots of spooky tales to the Bencoolen which fascinated the visitors.
It does feel like Bude is missing a trick regarding Pamela Colman-Smith. Many esoteric people want to know more about her (one reason I am working on my book) but how lovely it would be to have a little plaque or memorial, and indeed, even a display in the Castle Heritage Centre dedicated to Pamela, because many people would visit it, serving both them and tourism in Bude.
As for me, well, it was a delight to meet overseas visitors to our wonderful town and to spend a few hours discussing Pamela Colman-Smith, while acting as an unofficial ambassador for Bude. Thanks to Barbara Alexander for also assisting at short notice.