Lucille’s poetic memory of Margaret Frost

Yesterday, I went to see Lucille Opie, who told me this rather charming tale relating to the late Margaret Frost. We both thought people in Bude would enjoy it:

In 1953, when we first came to Bude, a man called Ed Rutherford, tall, 6ft 5, came over to Bude from Canada with his wife. He was a history teacher so we had fun at school that year for he brought history alive.

Margaret Frost was at school at that time. She was in a special group as she said she was as “thick as two short planks”. She didn’t think she was very clever. She’d had a tough childhood and was a bit of a rebel. Mr Rutherford taught her group about Bude and taught them this poem about things happening in the town. Amazingly, Margaret remembered the poem, called ‘The Legend of Barrel Rock’.

Years later (I didn’t know Margaret very well, being older than her, but would go to her tea room) about 10 years ago, Ed visited and we walked to see Margaret for one of her renowned cream teas.

I said to Margaret “there’s someone here you might remember”. He popped his head around the door. She saw him, shrieked and laughed that lovely laugh of hers, and said she remembered this poem. He couldn’t remember it but she started reciting it. She knew it by heart.

She called me one day to visit her at home as she’d remembered it all and she’d written it down. She was actually a clever lady with a great memory. 

It’s so wonderful that she remembered it all.  Here’s the poem …


The Legend of Barrel Rock

On the sands of Bude just down by the rocks,

There’s a landmark that’s known as Barrel Rock.

There’s a story about it that few people know

Of something that happened there long, long ago.


It happened one quiet and dark summer’s night

When all was still and only the light

From the starts shone a silvery glow on the lock,

And the moon shone down on Barrel Rock.


Late on that night, so the Cornish say,

A figure came hurrying down t’wards the bay,

Panting and tumbling t’ward the sand

A Golden Cross clenched in his hands.


He paused, as he heard his pursuers near

And as he ran he was gasping with fear.

Down the towpath, over the locks,

Along the breakwater t’ward Barrel Rock.


He couldn’t turn back, there was nowhere to hide,

Soon he’d be trapped by the incoming tide.

He must race the tide and make his way

Along the sands to Widemouth Bay.


He stood by the Rock and peered through the night,

He heard dull footsteps and saw a faint light.

They had searched the sands nd were crossing the Lock

And now they were coming to search Barrel Rock.


As he jumped off the Rock and onto the sand

The Golden Cross, which he held in his hand

Slipped from his grasp and tumbled from sight,

Lost in the sand in the black of the night.


As he ran, the tide rolled over his feet,

Swept in behind him and blocked his retreat.

As it rolled in it was as clear as could be,

Now his way was blocked by the sea.


Exhausted, sobbing, choked and half-drowned

He clung to the rocks as the sea churned around,

When an enormous wave dragged him down from the shore

And his body was seen and heard of no more.


But the cross was found later by two boys at play,

And returned to the church where it stands to this day

As a constant reminder to all that go in

That destruction and death are the wages of sin!


Ed Rutherford 1953










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