Zimapan (Aug 1955-Oct 1956)
During the first 15 months in their new
appointments in Cornwall, Anne and Francis Peter Sincock rented rooms in the back part of
Zimapan. "I think we saw an advert in the West Briton. It was certainly a case of any port in a storm;
somewhere to live while our new house was being built in Bodmin Road, Truro." During that time, they became
friends with their landlord and landlady, Daisy May and Joseph de L'Arbre de
Malander, aka the Dees. "The Dees were very kind to us, Mrs Dee being very helpful during my wife's
illness. They treated us like their own children."
New jobs in Cornwall
In 1955, after three years teaching in the Black
Country, Peter wanted to move back to Cornwall. After spotting an advert in the Times
Educational Supplement, he applied for the job of teaching religious education and
technical drawing at the boy's secondary school in Truro. Anne found herself a job as
Lady Almoner at Barncoose Hospital after spotting an advert in the Almoners' Journal. As far as
Peter can recall, paying the rent was very informal and simply involved paying over some money to the Dees each
month. "There was nothing as elaborate as a rent book."
"Conditions at Zimapan were somewhat
spartan", Peter recalls. "The accommodation was very basic to say the least; two up and two down. Our 'bit' was
to the right of the tall chimney.1 We had a very basic
kitchen, which is why we spent a great deal of time with the Dees in their kitchen. There was no inside
loo, just an earth closet where everything went and where you just threw down the odd bucket of
water. Where it went I know not! There was no smell as I remember. I presume that there must have been an
underground watercourse which carried all away. There was no hot water supply then. Bathing was
done in a zinc bath that hung on the outside wall by the back door. The water
butts that can be seen in the right-hand photograph of the website's home page were not outside the
back door back then."
Kind, generous and eccentric couple
Although the Dees were "not a very sociable
couple—they kept themselves very much to themselves—they were extremely kind and very generous" towards Peter
and Anne Sincock during their 15-month tenancy. Although the Dees were "certainly eccentric, we were never taken
in by their titles and we never inquired, however tactfully, about their backgrounds. Joseph, whose English was
accented but easily understandable, was as a gentleman, and rarely spoke about his Belgian
Fish out of water
Mrs Dee, like Joseph, was also "very reticent"
about herself, but "could be quite effusive at times. She had a short fuse, but it never lasted for any length
of time. She could be a little sharp with Joseph at times, but Anne and I attributed any oddities in her
behaviour to her being a Londoner; she was a bit like a fish out of water in rural Cornwall." However, Mrs Dee
had a "kind and generous nature", Peter recalls, exemplified by the fact that she was always ready to supply the
Sincocks with their hot-water needs.
Although the Dees were regarded as not a very
sociable couple by the locals, the Sincocks enjoyed many enjoyable games evenings with them. "We played
canasta, whist and gin rummy in their large sitting room in
the main part of the house [ed. front]. Joseph was usually shirted during those evenings, although not so much
in the spring and summer months. I remember a good deal of laughter; the result of jokes or general
Joseph's rotavating business
Joseph had a rotavating business which took up a
great deal of his time, and perhaps conveniently, got Joseph out of the house. "I think he was more interested
in looking after other people's gardens than his own. He'd go quite far afield to do somebody's garden,
allotment or smallholding. Joseph kept a Howard Gem rotavator outside the garden wall, which he took
around to smallholdings and ploughed up people's fields, usually shirtless, right up to the first frosts!" Peter
never accompanied Joseph when he went rotavating.
Dogs were Mrs Dee's main love
Peter remembers some of the dogs which Joseph and
Daisy May bred and had around the house. "The dogs were Mrs Dee's main love. Sultan, an Old English Mastiff, a
giant of a dog, was the most docile dog I have ever met," Peter says. "He would allow children and adults to
ride on his back and was the pride of Zimapan."
Mrs Dee's family
Peter recalls meeting some of Mrs Dee's family,
particularly some children living at Carharrack. "Mrs Dee had a son or nephew2 who lived on the outskirts of
Carharrack" who, like Joseph, also bred Old English Mastiffs, "but his line was a much more aggressive one" than
Joseph's, who bred "docile" dogs. "I believe the son/nephew moved up to Hebden Bridge in
Yorkshire sometime in late 1956."
Driving dogs to Southampton
During a the school holidays, Joseph and Peter
drove down to Southampton a couple of times transporting some of Joseph's dogs in the back of the car. On
arrival, the dogs were shipped on the Queen Mary to their new owners in the United
States. ''On one occasion, we nearly lost a Newfoundland somewhere on the A30 en route to
Southampton while letting it out for a comfort break!''
Joseph collected vintage cars. "He kept a
Jowett Javelin [ed. not vintage then] outside the garden at Zimapan. He was very good with
cars", Peter recalls. Joseph repaired his own cars and looked after Peter's Vauxhall 4. Joseph sometimes raced
the car at more than 100 mph down the hill from Mount Ambrose with Peter as a
Sincock's tenancy, Peter and Anne:
did their own cleaning and laundry
did their shopping in Truro and Falmouth, while "the Dees
tended to spread their custom more widely"
never saw any decorating or structural work carried out on
made trips to the beach at Porthowan and
Portreath, and recall "a young lad called John3 who used to accompany them to the beach"
had letters delivered to the house
do not recall:
Joseph mentioning that he was brought up as a
Catholic, or that he had a twin brother
any power cuts at the house
the Dees taking any holidays
the Dees going dancing
seeing any of Mrs Dees fabulous evening
the Dees going to church; "Zimapan was a
long way from any place of worship, C of E, RC, Methodist, or anything
recollections of Peter Sincock can be found in the biography of Joseph Pierre de L'Arbre de Malander.
1. See the
photograph of Zimapan taken from the cycle path (east side) on the website's Home
2. Mrs Dee's
grand-nephew, John Dudart-Aberdeen.
3. The 'John' Peter
refers to was probably John-Dudart Aberdeen, Daisy May's grand-nephew.
4. See 'Old Time
Dancing' in the biography of Joseph de L'Arbre de Malander. This suggests that the couple took up dancing after
the Sincocks left.