Constantine Cornwall

Tolmen Centre Roof – A Quick Update

The scaffold is erected, slate has been delivered, and the roofers are on site. There is a huge orange bucket tunnel going from top of scaffold to the ground for easy removal of old cement roof slates, and we have a Bumpa Lift in place for raising the new slates up to scaffold level.

A combination of the moss growth in the roof tile joints, and gutters continually being clogged has caused significant damage to our internal walls. Being able to complete the work after a successful fund-raising campaign, with immeasurable support from locals and major grant providers, has not come a day to soon.

We have had an inspection by ecologist Paul Diamond who required the northern slope to be stripped first as this was the most likely habitat for bats. Much as we love bats, they can cause delay and significant additional work and cost if found in a roof space. Thankfully we had none. However, when the roof is replaced we shall be putting in a specialist bitumen felt so that should bats wish to live with us in the future they are able to cling with their claws to the surface without getting caught.

The work is anticipated to be complete, weather permitting, by 11 December, and what a Christmas present this will be for our wonderful Victorian chapel!

Many of you have written messages on slates which will be incorporated onto the new roof. We have photographed all the slates and will be putting copies into a book which we hope Constantine Museum will hold for the future, as we anticipate we will not see the slates again for many years. When the roof is next replaced, some of our memories of how we have used the building will be there for future generations to read.

Tracey Clowes (Chair Constantine Enterprises Company)

Music and theatre at the Tolmen Centre: a 10 year retrospective

With the Tolmen Centre closed for events for the foreseeable future, rather than sound gloomy this seems a good time to reflect on some of the highlights of the past ten years.

Peggy Seeger

2011 saw Peggy Seeger, doyenne of the folk world, play with grace and humour to a full house; the international guitar festival ended with Martin Carthy, another folk colossus; while Steve Sogo and his band from Zimbabwe had everyone dancing. On the theatre stage, ‘Bound’ was a claustrophobic tale set in the cabin of a lurching trawler; and ‘The Animals and the Children Took to the Streets’ by company 1927 dazzled and delighted, with its shadow puppetry, projections and haunting music.

2012 opened with the incomparable Guy Masterson delivering his one-man show, ‘Shylock’, and
ended with John Welch and Pipeline Theatre’s unforgettable play, ‘Transports’, which explored memories of the Holocaust against a background of contemporary rural Britain; in the middle came ‘Mayday’, Tristan Sturrock’s thrilling and highly personal account of his near-fatal spinal injury and recovery. On the music front the two extremes of the Celtic fringe were on display: our local Cornish band Dalla led us in dancing in 5/4 time; and Rua MacMillan’s driving fiddle led his trio in a show of tunes from the Highlands and Islands.

2013 introduced us to Jacqui Oates, one of the finest voices in English folk; and the founders of Bellowhead, Spiers and Boden, entertained a sold-out auditorium. We had our first visit from performance poet Luke Wright with the first of his trilogy of political commentary, ‘Freddie Dare’; and Guy Masterson returned with another one-man show, the searing ‘Soldier’s Song’ based on the real experiences of a paratrooper in the Falklands War.

2014: for me, the standout theatre show of the year was ‘Major Tom’, a hilarious exposure of the world of beauty shows and dog shows, presented by Victoria Melody and, of course, her dog Major Tom; equally striking was Pipeline’s premiere of Jon Welch’s new play, ‘Streaming’, focussing on webcam sex and its human costs. The big name in folk was Chris Wood, while the female trio Lady Maisery sang beautifully and also ran a well- attended singing workshop the following morning.

2015 was another good year for music, from Devon’s Steve Knightley, through fingerpicking master Stephan Grossman and kora virtuoso Modou Cisshoko to the gritty Dublin band, Lynched. Pentabus’ play ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ about depression somehow managed to be uplifting; and yet again Jon Welch and Pipeline came up with another innovative play, ‘Spillikin’, where dementia and artificial intelligence met in a powerful, moving piece.

The Gabby Young Duo

2016 saw more diverse music, including the Gabby Young Duo, the Moulettes, the strings section of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and Will Kauffman’s fascinating audiovisual show about Woody Guthrie. On the theatre stage the Kernow King was Trevithik; our own Kerry Vincent produced her play ‘How Long Will I Love You’, and Luke Wright returned, this time as Jonny Bevan.

2017 had Ad Infinitum’s musical drama ‘Bucket List’ about a Mexican woman’s fight for justice, and Bea Roberts’ extraordinary retelling of Madame Bovary, in ‘Infinity Pool’. Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell entranced us old folkies from the 60s, Barb Jungr sang Dylan like no one has ever done before, John Etheridge and singer Vimala Rowe, fresh from Ronnie Scott’s, graced us with their limitless talents, and the Rough Island Band gave us a great show of self-penned songs and tunes inspired by the Isles of Scilly.

2018 gave us a sell-out courtesy of local singer-songwriter Martha Tilston, as well as modern music from the Kevos ensemble, and great entertainment from two of our favourite regulars, the Budapest Cafe Orchestra, and the Moscow Drug Club (from Haringey and Bristol respectively). On stage Ad Infinitum reprised the heartbreakingly tender ‘Translunar Paradise’, leaving many of us in tears; and Lost Dog filled the house with ‘Juliet and Romeo’, an irreverent retelling of another well-known play.

2019 was a bumper year for drama, led by Pipe- line’s ‘Drip, Drip, Drip’, an exploration of racism in the NHS, and more from Rhum and Clay with‘Mistero Buffo’, Owdyado with ‘Twisted Tales’, and 1927 with ‘Roots’, a weird blend of paper animation, storytelling and live music. Scottish trio Talisk nearly brought the house down, duo Twelfth Day produced a unique sound with full size harp and violin and two distinctive voices, and the great Martin Simpson showed his mastery of folk and blues guitar.

2020 was, as we know, cut short, but not before Squashbox Theatre had entertained our young- est audience with Tales from the Trees, and Luke Wright had brought us yet another incarnation, this time as Logan Dankworth. Our musical offerings were the effervescent Cornish bluegrass boys, Flats and Sharps, and the equally energetic but very different Edd Bateman’s West African Love Affair, whose infectious rhythms had the downstairs audience on their feet from the very start.

I hope this retrospective will bring back some happy memories to our regulars, and entice others to sample the amazing range of musical and theatrical talent on show on our doorstep. To stay in touch, if you haven’t already done so drop us an email to get onto the mailing list:

Tolmen Centre roof

Work on the Tolmen Centre roof has now started. Scaffold is erected, slate work has been delivered and the roofers are on site. 

The Constantine Enterprise Company (CEC) would like to say an enormous thankyou to the following who have made it possible:  

  • Garfield Weston 
  • The Tanner Trust 
  • The Bernard Sunley Foundation 
  •  Power to Change/Locality 
  • The Tolmen Operating Company 
  • The Tolmen Crowdfunder Community 
  • Very many generous local, distant, and anonymous donors.

Tolmen News – Autumn 2020

It’s a bad news, good news story from the Tolmen Centre. The bad news is that, given the continuing uncertainty as the Covid-19 pandemic plays out, we have decided that we cannot open for live performances for the foreseeable future. We have looked at how big an audience could be accommodated in the auditorium with acceptable social distancing, and it amounts to about one third of our normal capacity. This would hardly be viable, and on top of that we have concerns about managing social distancing downstairs, and whether people would be prepared to take the risk of attending, small though it may be. At the moment we are tentatively thinking about opening again in the New Year, but it will all depend on how things evolve, and of course on official advice. Meanwhile, it may be possible for the venue to be used for private functions, with all safety measures in place and at the party’s own risk.

Now for the good news. Like similar venues across the UK, a government grant has allowed us to weather the lockdown without eating into our reserves. Furthermore, thanks to Herculean fund-raising efforts by CEC Chairperson Tracey Clowes and colleagues, and to the Tolmen Centre’s successful programme of performances and Barbara’s cafe, we have sufficient funds to go ahead with renovating the roof of the building. The work is set to start in October, and so, if we are able to re-start our events in the New Year we shall be doing so under a new roof and with dry interior walls. This will be a huge relief.

We will keep all our regular supporters posted through our email subscription list; if you are not currently on the list and would like to be added, please drop us a line at: We value your support!

Dougal Jeffries

Hello all Tolmen supporters 

WE ARE STILL HERE! The Tolmen is closed – furloughed – probably for the rest of 2020, but be sure we will be back when all this virus stuff is behind us – even if it needs a vaccination to get us there.

While we are closed down we are taking the chance to get the Roof renewal project under way.   We have just about scraped enough funding together to allow it to proceed  – driven by the immense energies of our Chairperson Tracey Clowes – and it makes sense to get it done during this period of forced closure.

In the meantime, have a read – and a laugh  – at this article from The Stage magazine by Ben Duke from LOST DOG DANCE about the joys of Rural Touring:

Those lucky enough to be at his two dance/theatre shows (Paradise Lost and Juliet and Romeo) will remember two of the best things we were lucky enough to attract to the Tolmen Centre. We get a nice mention too! Thanks Ben.

Also,  to remind yourself of things we have done pre-lockdown, browse through the listing of our past shows. You’ll be reminded of the amazing things we’ve managed to bring to Cornwall over the past 15 years.   

Theatre shows from  Kneehigh, Miracle, Pipeline, Theatre Adinfinitum, Paper Cinema, 1927 Theatre,  Luke Wright – among many:

And numerous equally amazing music shows – Ralph McTell and Wizz Jones, Talisk, The Budapest Cafe Orchestra, Peggy Seeger, all those Guitar Festivals a few years back. And countless Movies:   And Book Club events: And Art Exhibitions: And Cafe Tolmen  supporting all these.

Literally hundreds of performances. Far too many to list in fact.   

So we have the track record – the history. And we will need to make more history when we get the whole show on the road again after the pandemic.  It won’t be easy. We’ll need support. We’ll need new helpers as well as the old hands. But make no mistake – The Tolmen Centre will return to action. 

People like what we do. We like doing it. And perhaps the lovely Ben Duke – echoing Lyn Gardner – sees too what we know – that small scale venues, run by enthusiasts, serving their local communities, offer great future prospects for live performance in  remote – and not so remote –  places

Here’s to the reopening of The Tolmen Centre – whenever it happens

Charlie and Barbara and the Tolmen Team


Don’t forget to try your hand with our ‘Through the Window’ project.

All you have to do is create something – on paper or online – faintly linked to the big Tolmen Centre window. Then send it to the special email address shown below.

It’s hoped that this will lead to an outside exhibition in the Tolmen Centre porch in August and also on this website.

So join in and have a go! 

Through The Window

Hello from The Tolmen Centre

We are still shut down and there is no clue when we shall start to open up again.   Sad but true… and let’s hope it’s not too far off.

In the meantime, our Art Department (ie Sally and Tracey!) have come up with a sort of ‘activity project’ for anyone with time on their hands and a bit of artistic energy.  Here it is: all you have to do is create something – on paper or online – faintly linked to the big Tolmen Centre window.  Then send it to the special email address shown. 

We hope the theme will be a creative springboard, which can be broadly interpreted in any medium. The view through the window can be real, remembered or imagined; past, present, or future.

Looking out or looking in, unrestricted by lockdown…….. It could even be a design for a stained-glass window. You could also draw the wall surrounding the window, it could be an old stone wall or interesting wallpaper….

Click here for an image of the big window at the Tolmen Centre. Right-click then download and print out at A4 to use as a framework/starting point for your artwork. If you are using paint, it’s a good idea to print the image onto thin card or reasonably thick paper. The ‘art tip’ is to draw across the window bars and then go over them with a dark pen.

Things are uncertain at the moment, but an outdoor exhibition in the porch over the August Bank holiday would be fun, we would also like to show a selection on the website. Let us know if you are taking part, by emailing a picture of your work any time before 15 August, so that we can contact you about the exhibition. The email address is:

Also if you use Instagram, please tag @tolmencentre and hashtag #tolmencentre and #throughthewindow.

With the artist’s permission, once the weekend is over, we would like to choose 5 designs to be made into cards which would be for sale in the museum to go towards the renovation of the Tolmen Centre windows. Each individual artist would be credited on the card.

Look forward to seeing your work!

Tolmen music in lockdown

At the time of writing, it looks pretty certain that the Tolmen Centre won’t be open for events for the next few months at least. Entertainment venues look like being one of the last categories to be re-opened, and our relatively top-heavy (age wise) audience and management team will make it a particular challenge for us.

We are very sorry not to be bringing you three top acts that were planned for the summer. Two dynamic trios from Scotland – first Talisk, then supergroup Lau – were due to be followed by female American duo Madison Violet. 

We’ve tentatively accepted provisional rebookings for next year, but don’t forget that you can always find just about any artist on Youtube, Spotify or their own websites, to get a taste of what you’re missing!

Madison Violet

Spare a thought for the thousands of musicians and other members of the performing arts whose livelihoods are being devastated by the Covid-19 epidemic. Many of them have been posting recordings and live performances on the internet, some of them asking for donations for charity or towards their own living expenses, sometimes both.

Locally some of us have enjoyed Martha Tilston’s two live gigs from her front room, just a mile or so from the centre of our village. Martha’s music and her infectiously warm personality offer hope and joy in gloomy times, and if you missed her you should be able to catch up at

Martha Tilson

Another online concert (thanks for the tip, Sally H.!) can be found at This is no less than 7 hours of folk music from a wide range of performers, each performing in their front rooms. Among them are several who have performed at the Tolmen in the past, including John Boden, Martin Simpson, Bella Hardy, Peggy Seeger and Steve Knightley. Another artist featured is Kris Drever, one third of Lau. The online festival is raising funds for the Help Musicians charity, which is providing emergency grants to working musicians during the epidemic.

Keep listening to music, keep safe, and keep an eye out for better news in future.

Dougal Jeffries