It’s easy for the rest of the UK to forget Cornwall at times, but 2021 has been a particularly strange year.
As the county is often seen simply as a vacation destination, the comings and goings here are not always in the news.
But this year Cornwall has been noticed a few times beyond the Tamar – from celebrity visits and high-profile court cases to a certain collection of world leaders sitting in a West Cornwall hotel.
Not all was good news, however, with many of Cornwall’s most tragic events touching the rest of the conscience of the country.
Here are five times Cornwall appeared in national media in 2021.
G7 Leaders’ Summit, Carbis Bay
On the weekend of January 16, 2021, just weeks after the start of the year (and after the start of the third national lockdown), Cornwall received some very interesting news.
A small group of millionaires were heading to an expensive hotel in West Cornwall for the weekend in June.
While it does happen every year, this particular elite group had a specific reason to go to the Carbis Bay Hotel for the weekend, which wasn’t just a happy one.
The announcement of the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall gave an unusual start to the year and opinions were totally divided on whether it was a good idea.
From concerns in the parking lot to fears that world leaders, their entourage, thousands more police officers and all the protesters will cause a wave of Covid, everyone had an opinion on this.
What was particularly interesting about this summit, however, was that it meant newly elected US President Joe Biden would set foot in the UK for the first time in his post in Cornwall.
Cornwall’s choice was, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, meant to be a chance to show off the UK’s most beautiful county.
When the big weekend finally arrived on June 11, world leaders from the world’s largest economies arrived at Cornwall’s tiny former Newquay Airport to discuss the near future of the Global North.
Throughout the weekend, national media – and even some international media – focused entirely on Cornwall, sparking further discussion about our levels of poverty, underinvestment and how busy our beaches were.
You can read our recap of this strange weekend here.
Royal Navy jet crash, Lizard Peninsula
At around 9:30 a.m. on March 25, a Royal Navy training exercise for Hawk fighter pilots took a turn for the worse when a pair had to eject from their plane after hearing a thud.
The Hawk XX189, based at RNAS Culdrose, then plunged into St Martin Woods, near Helston on the Lizard.
According to firefighters and the Navy, the plane “disintegrated” on impact and fire crews and police from across Cornwall rushed to the scene.
Devon and Cornwall Police Sergeant Chris Miles told CornwallLive at the time: ‘We got a call this morning about a plane that fell to the bottom of this field and the wreckage of it. these are in the woods beyond what you can see. “
Various pieces of jet could be seen buried in mounds of mud and littered through the woods and the adjacent field.
A huge cordon was put in place while the emergency services took care of the incident.
The pilots themselves were not seriously injured and the Hawk planes grounded for emergency checks were returned to service a few weeks later.
This particularly dramatic event was covered across the country, from CornwallLive reporters racing to attend the scene in person, to celebrities including Sky News is informing the nation.
Our coverage of this story can be found here.
Filming of the House of the Dragon
Game of Thrones became a global phenomenon when its HBO TV adaptation aired from 2011 until its controversial end in 2019.
So it was no surprise that many people were rather excited when rumors started to spread like wildfire about the highly anticipated prequel, House of the Dragon, set in Cornwall in April.
What many at first called a fantasy came true when an eagle-eyed reporter from CornwallLive spotted House Velaryon’s seahorse seal on a bizarre mausoleum-like structure on Mount St Michael .
After our first reports, news of the shoot spread around the world.
Posts from London to Brazil, well, pretty much anywhere you can get HBO, started speculating what the sets were on the show, which is due out next year.
Things only got more exciting when celebrities started appearing on our beaches.
Matt Smith, famous for his lead role in Doctor Who and his more recent portrayal of Prince Philip in The Crown, appeared alongside co-star Emma D’Arcy at Holywell Beach.
The couple filmed several scenes that you might even spy on in the trailer released months later.
The smoke from St Michael’s Mount made people even more excited, as well as what appeared to be large crowd scenes with dozens of fully costumed Game of Thrones extras.
Then everything calmed down, probably due to reports of a Covid epidemic among the crew.
In September, filming resumed and star Smith made headlines once again playing with a dog in Targaryen costume.
Mini the cat
News of the death of a beloved pet, while incredibly sad, rarely touches national consciousness.
So, the 14-year-old rescue cat Mini’s death becoming a national debate came as a surprise.
On March 6, Western Hunting Master John Lanyon Sampson, his son Edward, and Edward’s partner Henrietta took their hunting dogs for a walk.
Just before noon, six or seven of the 21 dogs broke off the main pack when they approached Trafalgar Fields Estate, Madron and mutilated Carly Jose’s Mini cat to death.
Edward was filmed throwing Mini’s body over a fence and running away.
Mini’s death has become the focal point of a new campaign against not only the Western Hunt, but the hunt in the UK as a whole.
Hunt’s saboteurs cited the ongoing (then) lawsuit against Mr Sampson, while national media tune in to watch the lawsuit in early December and covered the controversy over the video showing Edward throwing Mini’s body .
John Sampson was convicted of being responsible for a dangerously out of control dog in Truro court on December 10.
Ms Jose and anti-hunting activists celebrated and pointed out that the move was somewhat of a first for the masters of the hunt, who – they said – had never been convicted before following the death of a pet.
Meanwhile, a petition to bring the “Mini Law” to the attention of Parliament has garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures.
You can read the full story and court case here.
Various housing crisis
The housing situation in Cornwall has always been difficult, but this year a lot has happened at the same time.
Things got completely hopeless this year and put Cornwall on the map for less than pleasant reasons than the G7 or some prominent celebrity visiting the county.
The second homes of wealthy people who live elsewhere are widely seen as pushing prices up to unaffordable levels, while starving local trading businesses out of the tourist season.
This has come to a head this year, with multiple protests (including at the G7) calling for legislation giving preferential treatment to local buyers and more protections for tenants.
The pandemic made matters worse for everyone, but not the least of local buyers and tenants who needed to find a home locally.
Many wealthy buyers came to the county to work remotely in clerical jobs elsewhere, and pushed the locals even further.
Meanwhile, the all-out tourism frenzy this year has meant that many homeowners (once Section 21 protections were exhausted) have started evicting their tenants to create lucrative Airbnbs.
The keeper and time, in particular, has published several long readings on the issues of eviction and house prices in Cornwall, reflecting much of the local media coverage.