A couple of years back, whilst searching for all and any things related to St. Budeaux (a former village within the city of Plymouth, Devon), I came across the novel The Adventures of Sir Harry Revel by the Cornish writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Quiller-Couch – or Q, as he was also known as – wrote a tremendous amount of novels and books in the late Victorian period into the 20th century.
The story of The Adventures of Sir Harry Revel is explained by Andrew Symons on the Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch website:
Harry Revel starts off as a murder mystery and ends as a historical novel, with the divide coming in Chapter XX. The last four chapters relating to the Peninsular War, bring a moral resolution, but at a distance of time and place from the original moral conflicts. The first ten chapters are set in Plymouth, although it is the Plymouth of the early nineteenth century when the present day districts were separate towns. The second ten are set in the Rame peninsula—Antony area of Cornwall, which has changed far less. In the preface to the first edition of 1903, Q warns against too close an enquiry into location. However, most named locations accord reasonably well with the O.S. Map, and such a map is invaluable in helping the reader follow the plot, especially as it is complex, possibly unnecessarily so.
As Symons notes above, the area of Plymouth is featured heavily. This is where the link to St. Budeaux comes into play. The related passage is outlined below:
Not one of the party seemed to resent this dismissal. The women laughed hilariously and called him a darling. There was a smacking exchange of kisses; and the coaches, having been packed at length, started for home to the strains of the cornet and a chorus of cheers. Mr. Jope sprang in beside me, and leaning out of the farther window, waved his neckerchief for a while, then pensively readjusted it, and called to the driver—
The driver, after a moment, turned heavily in his seat, and answered, “Nonsense!”
“I tell ye, I want to drive to St. Budeaux, by Saltash Ferry.”
“And I tell you, ‘Get out!’ St. Budeaux? The idea!”
“Why, what’s wrong with St. Budeaux?”
“Oh, I’m not goin’ to argue with you,” said the driver. “I’m goin’ home.”
And he began to turn his horse’s head. Mr. Jope sprang out upon the roadway. The driver, with sudden and unexpected agility, dropped off—on the other side.
Such is the dearth of literary material relating to St. Budeaux (bar the poems of Kenny Knight), I am thinking of using some of the novel in an article or wider study. Not to add anything specifically historical or factual, but rather to add colour. The dialogue suggests that there is something slightly odd – or absurd – about travelling to St. Budeaux. Perhaps this relates to the people who lived there or, more likely, the remoteness of the location itself. Either way, I guess what I am attempting to convey is how the short passage conveys a sense of uniqueness about St. Budeaux, back when it was its own village, before becoming enveloped in the wider urban sprawl of Plymouth.
The entire book can be read at Project Gutenburg.