The Valley of Trelamia
by Peter Redgrove

Peter Redgrove - The Valley of Trelamia

BBC Radio 4: Afternoon Play

BBC Radio 4 FM, 6 August 1986 15.00 Afternoon play. 45m. A writer taking a holiday in deepest Cornwall ventures into the Valley of Trelamia, which is believed to be haunted... by a great snake. (http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/radio4/fm/1986-08-06)

Cast - John: James Aubrey
Rose: Maggie Tarver
Clemence: Sarah Badel
Mrs Treviles: June Barrie
Joshua: John Church
Barman/Policeman: Graham Padden
Young man: Mark Audley
Directed By: Brian Miller BBC Bristol

The title immediately made me think of Keats’ narrative poem “Lamia” which is about the snake form taken by Lilith.  John, the writer, is staying near the Lizard peninsular and is recovering from some nervous complaint.  He collaborates on books about natural phenomena such as volcanoes and earthquakes with Clemence; this echoes Redgrove’s own collaborations with his partners.  

The Lizard once formed part of the greater peninsular, the Lyonesse, itself linking Cornwall with the Isles of Scilly.  John, on an exploratory walk follows the course of a stream near an old tin mine. This leads him to encounter Rose Trelamia who shares the name of the valley.  In what must be a reference to an autobiographical book by P J Kavanagh, a fellow poet whom Peter Redgrove had known since university, Rose is described as the perfect stranger for John.  There are references to the local green serpentine rock and a ring worn by Rose.  It appears she is or may be, the treasure, the lady, the healer and the serpent.  

A disaster befell the tin mine and some attribute the cause to a Cornish saint, the Queen of the Snakes.  Clemence comes to the Valley having learned that John intends to collaborate on a book about Cornish legends and marry Rose. In a confrontation with Rose, Rose calls Clemence 'Appollonius the Philosopher', a possible reference to Pope Clement XIV.  In this story the personages are, or could be, incarnations of mythical figures. Clemence does not succeed in winning back or saving John and in joining Rose he disappears into the Valley of Trelamia. 

In the final scene we find that Clemence has bought Rose's cottage.  In a reflection of John's meeting with Rose, Clemence offers tea to a young man who claims to have been led to her by a singing couple.

Alistair Wyper

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