2016 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Anna Maria Fox, a staunch advocate of Cornish innovation and culture, who co-founded what is now the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, aged just 17.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery and collaborating with the Fox family, Mawnan Smith primary school, Falmouth University, The Royal Polytechnic Society, and Glendurgan Gardens, Scary Little Girls celebrated with a year of events about Anna Maria Fox as trailblazer. These events ranged from performances and picnics to pin-hole camera workshops and the opening of a new studio at her beloved Art School!Find out more …
Dr Ginny Button
Anna Maria Fox is now rightly celebrated for her pivotal role in promoting the arts and culture in Falmouth. Without her, we might never have had an art school, or specialist arts university here.
The lack of women in science has been a hot topic the past few years. Anna Maria Fox conceived and co-founded the first ever UK Polytechnic institute in Falmouth – the word polytechnic didn’t even exist until then! Such an inspirational figure for our young scientists and entrepreneurs deserves to be celebrated.
The legacy of Anna Maria still echoes down the ages, meeting with the present and shaping the future. It is a call to action for us all, to be of service wherever we can making a difference using whatever God given gifts and talents we have at our disposal.
The pupils of Mawnan Smith School brought Anna-Maria to life with this fantastic animation.
The project was launched on the eve of her birthday and took place in the Kings Charles the Martyr Church and community cafe.
We held a programme of events in the church, including readings from the Fox family diaries, an interview with Charles Fox (one of Anna Maria's closest living relatives), performances of her favourite songs, speeches from local dignitaries and art work inspired by her life from local school children.
A local Scout's troup then ushered our guests around the corner where we then held a mingle in the Church's community cafe with a beautiful birthday cake and toasted her with fizz and pop.
A quintet from Mawnan Smith School provided festive music which delighted all of the party guests.
We invited people to talk to us and the Fox family about Anna Maria and record their thoughts and memories.
The party was a fabulous way to kick off the year of celebrations!
We held two celebratory picnics at Glendurgan Gardens, the home of Anna Maria’s family to this day that were designed by her uncle in her life time.
The Falmouth and Mawnan Smith scouts and the students and staff from Mawnan Smith school co-hosted these, with the scouts running victorian games with visiting children and the school performing tradition cornish dancers for picnickers to watch or join in with.
One of our volunteers also played Anna Maria Fox and engaged audience in readings of her letters and her siblings diaries and answered questions about her life.
Students and our volunteers worked together to lay out a picnic table with food from Palestine and the North Americas, places Anna Maria traveled, and of course lots of goodies local to her from her beloved Cornwall.
Every dish was labeled with facts about her such as which exotic pet did she smuggle into her Quaker meetings (a monkey!) and how old was she when she founded the Falmouth Royal Polytechnic Society or Poly (17!).
A trail of blue plaques is being created to highlight the sites in Falmouth and the surrounding area associated with Anna Maria. The first location is the Royal Polytechnic Society and further plaques will be created over the next few months. The aim is that the heritage trail grows over the next few years as more sites are identified throughout Cornwall and beyond.
The fantastic app created by Christina Li for Scary Little Girls is available to download from the app store. Learn about the life of Anna Maria Fox by exploring the areas associated with her. In each location you can discover stories about her life, take photographs and make notes to add to your exploration diary and see some beautiful places along the way.
SLG joined forces with the Poly and Falmouth University for a series workshops on themes that came out of Anna Maria’s interests and legacy:
Dr Paul Cabuts
Anna Maria Fox was an innovative woman enthusiastically developing new ideas at a time of great change. There are strong links with the new development of photography and Falmouth Town at the time.
This event was held at The Poly as the seat of Anna Maria’s commitment to art, science, exploration and improvement for the benefit of all. Performances and speakers from local artists, schools and dignitaries combined to give a lively over view of Anna Maria's life and contributions. These included -
We then took everyone up stairs for mulled wine, hot spiced cider and figgie obin (traditional victorian cornish christmas pastry) and further events including -