We heard the sad news last week that the museums former curator Barbara Birchwood Harper has passed away after a long illness. Barbara became curator of The Old Guildhall Museum in Looe in 2001 and with her late husband Neil spent many hours cataloguing the exhibits and promoting the museum, even organizing a Tudor banquet where Queen Elizabeth I herself turned up!
Barbara had a huge love of history generally, but it was genealogy where she excelled. While at the museum she helped many people in Looe, and those with connections to Looe, to further their knowledge of their family history.
This led in 2004 to her contributing information about local smugglers to Mike Dunn’s book on the history of Looe Island, and shortly after we decided it would be a nice idea to put our own book on the history of Looe together. We worked well together with Barbara concentrating on the earlier history, while I researched the 20th century. In 2007 The Book of Looe was published, written by myself and Barbara, and featuring photographs from the Raddy Collection.
Away from the museum, Barbara and Neil were important members of the Looe Old Cornwall Society, kept the Looe TocH branch going by selling secondhand books throughout the summer months and were also very involved with the Catholic community at Sclerder Abbey.
Her knowledge and dry sense of humour will be missed by both the museum and the town which she made home.
Mark Camp Feb 1st 2021