Barbara Spooner 1893 - 1983

Barbara Catherine Spooner was born 8 April 1893 in Richmond Surrey, daughter of Mabel Louise Tangye and George Phipps Spooner. By1901 Barbara, aged only 8, was at a boarding school in Ilfracombe run by a one-time governess of the wealthy Tangye family.

Barbara does not obviously appear in the 1911 census, when she was 18. Perhaps she was at different boarding school or Finishing School overseas. Such activity would certainly be concluded by the time she was 21 in 1914.

Consistently described as ‘miss’ it seems Barbara never married. Her father died in Ipswich in 1927; her mother died in Ipswich in 1934.

Barbara moved to Cornwall in 1923, when she was 30. It is not known why she came to Cornwall and why she selected North Hill. She had relatives 40 miles away at Glendorgal, Newquay.

Barbara’s Spooner’s main interest was in folklore and the folk-life of Cornwall. As founder member of the North Hill Old Cornwall Society, she was a regular contributor to early issues of Old Cornwall. She was made a bard of the Gorsedd in 1930 because of these interests, Her bardic name was Myrgh An Hallow (Daughter of the Moors). For two years in the 1930s, at least during 1934-5, she was a member of the Gorsedd Council.

She was most active as a field researcher during the inter­war years, travelling many miles across the open moors collecting narratives of ghosts, witches, giants and fairies.  Her book  John Tregagle of Trevorder, Man and Ghost, was published in 1935.

In 1944 Barbara moved to Trevallett and in 1948 she moved to Gonvena House, Wadebridge. She joined the Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society, contributing to its activities. In the 1950s she began writing a book on the folklore of Cornwall, for which, ultimately, she was unable to find a publisher; however, chapters from the book were later reworked for a series of articles published in the Folklore Journal. Beginning in 1953, Miss Spooner published papers on the stone circles of Cornwall, the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss, the giants of Cornwall, cloud ships, haunted styles and the figures of Jack and Tom in chapbooks.

She was interested in Arthuriana for many years, especially the 1950s and 1960s. She published nothing in later life on that topic, but it was her wish that her Arthurian papers should be preserved. In 1974 she moved to West Park, Wadebridge. She died in 1983.