Archives For Ghosts

Tales of Cornish ghosts and hauntings

By Benjaminevans82 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Benjaminevans82 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

A stunning bit of coastline between Newquay and Padstow – a great beach if you don’t mind the steps down to it (rebuilt by the National Trust)! But it isn’t those steps the name refers to. The ‘steps’ are large outcrops of rock that litter the beach and the sea at high tide (the beach disappears at high tide – you have been warned). Placed there, so legend has it, by the giant ‘Bedruthan’, presumably so he (or she) could skip along the stones without getting wet feet. Ummm. Or possibly (so a more cynical but possibly more realistic legend has it) the whole giant thing was a Victorian invention so more people would visit! Whatever the explanation, the views are dramatic and brilliant and the beach a total delight, but don’t get cut off at high tide….

So, what of ‘Knockers’? Knockers are a type of faery, not the pretty ones that flit about the woodland, but a grisly looking dwarf with a hook nose. They like to mine, usually far from the humans that used to populate the tin mines and proably in deeper places. Bedruthan was the site of a tin and iron mine and the Knockers were there too. Generally keeping out of the way of humans, but not to be trifled with or annoyed (you just might find yourself lost in a deep part of the mine). Being mischievious they might move your tools around, but generally they were benevolent (although in some tales they most definitely are not!). Some say they are still there, and walking on the beach you can sometimes hear the the tap tap’ of their picks deep in the mine now long gone from our world. Others say that the tapping noise is caused by the ghosts of the tin miners giving a warning when a disaster was about to happen. Knockers or ghosts (or dripping water)? Listen out for yourself and wonder what it is that causes the creepy noises…

Uther Pendragon, by Howard Pyle (1903)

Uther Pendragon, by Howard Pyle (1903)

Personally, I love Arthurian Legends and there are a few places where the legends are particularly strong. Cornwall, Wales, the West Country generally and, of course, Glastonbury have a good slice of the pie in that respect and just the word ‘Tintagel’ brings visions of a dark stomy night and the strange events surrounding Arthur’s conception … There are, of course, many stories and variations on stories that claim Tintagel as the place where Arthur was either conceived, or sometimes, where he was born. The ruin that stands at Tintagel now is medieval in origin, a 13th century fortification and stronghold of the Earls of Cornwall. It perches perilously on a tiny island linked to the mainland by a narrow bridge – not for the fainthearted! Arthur is not medieval though (late 5th and 6th centuries), although most of the tales do date from these times (which is why we tend to imagine him in armour surrounded by Knights). It was Geoffrey of Monmouth who kicked the whole thing off by writing his fictional account of the ‘History of the Kings of Britain’ in the 12th century and he made up all kinds of wonderful characters and tales that are now well and truly embedded in our ‘mythical history’. Incidentally, the tales concerning the Knight Lancelot and the Holy Grail stories were created by French writer Chr├ętien de Troyes, also in the 12th century. The tales thrived in the middle ages and are still immensely popular today. Generally, we love the idea of a King that unites us, inspires us and rules in a wise and fair way. If only …… Continue Reading…

The Ghost Ship of St Ives Bay

February 28, 2013

Shipwreck by Ivan Aivozovsky 1854

The legend of the St Ives Ghost Ship involves a schooner called ‘The Neptune’ captained by William Grant. It was wrecked on the Cornish coast near Gwithian, close to St Ives. The captain is said to be buried in the Gwithian churchyard. But, let’s go back a bit …. The night before the storm that wrecked the Neptune the local fishermen noticed distress horns and rockets in St Ives Bay and noticed a schooner in trouble. They rowed out in their gigs to see if they could help as she rolled in the sea, trying to keep off the rocks. As they approached they noted that no one appeared to be aboard, their cries went unanswered. One man tried to board the ship, but as he reached out the ship disappeared… Continue Reading…

Ghosts in the Manor House

February 27, 2013
Don Quixote by Gustave Dore

Illustration for Don Quixote by Gustave Dore

Trerice is a romantic and beautiful 16th century Elizabethan Manor House. It was built around 1573 by Sir John Arundell (one of the great families of Cornwall) and remained in the care of the Arundells for around 4 centuries. There are a few stories surrounding Trerice, many reports from the 1980s onwards when the North Wing was being restored. Reports of what? Well, noises like the swishing of skirts, other unexplained noises and bangs, the scent of lilac (especially in the library), a feeling of general unease in the library – as if you were stepping back in time, a sense of someone nearby and the occasional sighting of the Grey Lady. Continue Reading…