Henry Jenner

Gorsedh Kernow came about as the result of the scholar Henry Jenner's interest in Cornish language and Cornwall (Jenner was a bard of the Breton Gorsedh) and support from the Welsh Gorsedh and the recently formed Federation of Old Cornwall Societies (1920).

Jenner was getting old in 1927, the year before the foundation of the Cornish Gorsedh, and he was joined in his planning by another Cornish scholar, Robert Morton Nance.

At the conference of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies in February 1928 it was agreed that the officials of the Welsh Gorsedh be invited to hold a ceremony in Cornwall, with a view to forming a Cornish Gorsedh.

The Welsh Gorsedh was in favour and ten 'worthy' Cornish people were initiated at the next Welsh Gorsedh at Treorchy in August 1928 as the core of the planned new Cornish Gorsedh. 

The proposal was that members of the Cornish Gorsedh should be dressed, as in Wales, in white, blue or green, according to the individual's status.  Nance however felt that, in Cornwall, all members of the Gorsedh should be treated equally and all wear the blue of bards.  This is still the case today, with senior bards and holders of office having a different style of head-dress or wearing plastrons (ceremonial breastplates).

After their admission at Treorchy, seven of the now eight Cornish bards met in Cardiff and constituted themselves, together with Henry Jenner and his wife Kitty, as the Council of Gorsedh Kernow.  Jenner was to be Grand Bard and Nance his deputy.  It was decided that any candidates for admission into the Gorsedh should 'exhibit a manifestation of the Celtic spirit'.

On 21st. September 1928 following extensive coverage in the Western Morning News, the first Gorsedh Kernow was held at Boscawen Un, site of an impressive ancient stone circle in St. Buryan, west of Penzance.  Representatives of the Welsh Gorsedh joined the eight Cornish bards, twelve bare-headed initiates, members of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies and the mayors of seven Cornish boroughs.  Led by Penzance Silver Band, they all processed from Boscawen Farm to the circle.  The ceremony was conducted in Cornish, Welsh and English and ended with the singing of Old Land of our Fathers.

Gorsedh Torpoint 2014

After the ceremony, an Executive Committee or Council was formed with the particular duty of arranging the following year's Gorsedh.

Bowcawen Un was followed in 1929 by Carn Brea as the site for the ceremony and by the Hurlers, near St. Cleer in 1930.  The plan was - and the practice still is - to move the site around Cornwall - East, West and Centre.

In 1930 the admission of 'Bards of Honour' from other countries was introduced and two years later that of 'language' bards - for proficiency in Cornish.  N.B.  Generally the level of proficiency in 1932 was basic compared to that of today.

In May 1934 Henry Jenner, Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow, died at the age of 85.  The automatic choice for a new Grand Bard was Robert Morton Nance, who continued in the role until his death in 1959.  From this point the period of tenure was changed to three years with an optional further three years if approved by the Gorsedh Council.

Although by 1936 there were around 140 bards, it was felt that not enough was being done to 'manifest the Celtic Spirit' and a broader field of competitions was introduced.  In the first year of literacy awards in 1937, no fewer than 107 essays were submitted.  Slowly but surely, too, people from different walks of life were invited to join the Gorsedh.

The Gorsedh ceremony, previously known as the 'Open Gorsedh', where bards are 'on view' to the public, has been held every year since 1928, although during the war years a scaled-down version was used - at Nance's house in Carbis Bay in 1939 and at the Royal Institution of Cornwall in Truro from 1940 to 1945.

Adapted from Rod Lyon's book Gorseth Kernow. Some of the material on other pages also comes from his book.

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Gorsedh Kernow a veu fondys avel sewyans a vern skoler Henry Jenner yn Kernewek hag yn Kernow (Bardh Gorsedh Breten Vyghan o Jenner) hag a skoodhyans dhyworth Gorsedh Kembra ha Kesunnyans Kowethasow Kernow Goth re bia fondys termyn berr kyns (1920).

Yth esa Jenner ow mos ha bos koth yn 1927, an vledhen kyns fondyans Gorsedh Kernow, hag ev a veu junys yn y dowlow gans skoler kernewek aral, Robert Morton Nance.

Yn keskussulyans Kesunnyans Kowethasow Kernow Goth mis Hwevrer 1928 unverhes veu may fedha sodhogyon Gorsedh Kembra gelwys dhe synsi solempnita yn Kernow, gans bodh an brys a fondya Gorsedh a Gernow.

Faverus o breus Gorsedh Kembra ha deg person kernewek ‘wordhi’ a veu urdhyes yn nessa Gorsedh Kembra yn Treorchy mis Est 1928 avel an golonnen a Orsedh Kernow nowydh esa ow pos towlys.

Profys veu may tela dhe eseli Gorsedh Kernow bos gwiskys, kepar del ens yn Kembra, yn gwynn, glas po gwyrdh, herwydh degre an bardh.  Byttegyns Nance a grysi y tela dhe bub Bardh, yn Kernow, bos dyghtys yn ekwal hag omwiska y’n powsyow glas a verdh.  Yndella yth yw hwath hedhyw, hag ughverdh, ha berdh ha dhedha soodh, a’s teves gis dyffrans a bennwisk po a wisk brestplatyow solempna.

Robert Morton Nance

Wosa aga degemeryans yn Treorchy, seyth a’n verdh gernewek, lemmyn eth anedha, a omvetyas yn Kardydh hag a omdeklaryas, war-barth gans Henry Jenner ha’y wreg Kitty, avel Konsel Gorsedh Kernow.  Jenner a vedha Bardh Meur ha Nance y gannas.  Ervirys veu may fia res dhe ombrofyoryon rag degemeryans y’n Orsedh ‘diskwedhes displetyans a’n spyrys keltek’.
An 21a a vis Gwynngala, wosa derivasow ledan y’n Western Morning News, synsys veu kynsa Gorsedh Kernow yn Bosskawen-Un, tyller hag ynno hen gylgh a ven marthys yn Eglosveryan, west a Bennsans.  Kanasow a Orsedh Kembra a omjunyas gans an eth bardh kernewek, dewdhek urdhyas noth, eseli a Gessunyans Kowethasow Kernow Goth ha meryon seyth burjestra kernewek.  Ledys gans Bagas Ilow Arghans Pennsans, i a geskerdhas dhyworth bargen tir Bosskawen dhe’n kylgh.  Synsys veu an solempnita yn Kernewek, Kembrek ha Sownsek, hag a worfennas gans kana ‘Bro Goth agan Tasow’.
Wosa an solempnita, fondys veu Kessedhek Gweythresek po Konsel, ha dhodho an devos arbennek a restra an Orsedh y’n vledhen ow tos.
Sewys veu Bosskawen-Un yn 1929 gans Karn Bre avel tyller rag an solempnita ha gans an Hurlysi, ogas dhe S. Kler yn 1930.  Removya an tyller a-dro dhe Gernow – Est, West ha Kres - o an towl, ha hwath yth yw gwrys yndella.

Boscawen Un

Yn 1930 keworrys veu an degemeryans a ‘Verdh a Enor’ dhyworth broyow erel ha diw vleden a-wosa ‘Berdh a’n Yeth’ – rag gallos yn Kernewek.  N.B. Dre vras, elvennek o an nivel a allos yn 1932, kehevelys orth an nivel hedhyw.
Mis Me 1934 y ferwis Henry Jenner, Bardh Meur Gorsedh Kernow, 85 y oos.  Robert Morton Nance o an dewis apert rag Bardh Meur nowydh, hag ev a besyas y’n soodh bys yn y vernans yn 1959.  Alena rag chanjys dhe deyr bledhen veu spys an offis gans teyr bledhen moy dre dhewis mar pe komendys gans Konsel an Orsedh.
Kynth esa erbynn 1936 a-dro dhe 140 bardh, y krysys nag esa lowr ow pos gwrys rag ‘displetya an Spyrys Keltek’ ha steus ledanna a gesstrifow a veu dallethys.  Y’n kynsa bledhen a bewasow rag lien kemmys ha 107 skrif a veu danvenys.  Yn lent hag yn sur, ynwedh, eghennow dyffrans a dus a veu gelwys dhe omjunya gans an Orsedh.
Solempnita an Orsedh, aswonys kyns avel ‘An Orsedh Ygor’, le mayth yw berdh ‘yn gwel’ an poblek, re beu synsys pub bledhen a-dhia 1928, kyn feu devnydhys versyon byghanhes dres bledhynnyow an vresel – yn chi Nance yn Porthreptor yn 1939 hag yn Fondyans Riel Kernow yn Truru dhyworth 1940 dhe 1945.

A-dro dhyn

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