Archives For February 2013

The Ghost Ship of St Ives Bay

February 28, 2013
shipwreck

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…

Tristram Bird sees the Padstow Mermaid - from North Cornwall fairies and legends by Enys Tregarthen

Tristram Bird sees the Padstow Mermaid – from North Cornwall fairies and legends by Enys Tregarthen

Sailors around the North Cornwall coast are only too aware of the perilous rocks and cliffs that make up the dramatic landscape, with few safe havens to run to in bad weather. This makes Padstow an important stop, these days for leisure craft as well as fishing boats, although the harbour can only be reached a few hours either side of high tide because of the sand bar. It is thought that the sand started to form in the mouth of the Camel estuary around the 16th century and until more recent methods for dredging and marking safe channels this made the approach very dangerous. Many vessels have been wrecked on the sands trying to gain access to Padstow Harbour over the years.

The compelling and wildly romantic reason for sand to start gathering in the estuary is to be found in the tale of the Padstow Mermaid. As ever, there are many variations of this tale. It is said that ships were led safely to the harbour at Padstow under the care of the mermaid. One day someone shot the mermaid. One tale names the man responsible as Tristram Bird, a local man who came upon the mermaid combing her hair on a rock on Hawkers Cove and offered to marry her (the sudden and overwhelming attraction of the mermaid is not to be underestimated!). When she turned him down he threatened to shoot her instead, which he did. Continue Reading…

Excalibur and Dozmary Pool

February 27, 2013

Bedevere throws Excalibur back into the Lake by Aubrey Beardsley

Bedevere throws Excalibur back into the Lake by Aubrey Beardsley


Dozmary Pool, close to Colliford Lake and the source of one of the tributaries of the River Fowey, sits within a Site of Special Scientific Interest near Bolventor of Bodmin Moor. The moor itself is full of wonderful tales, legends and ghost stories and Dozmary Pool seems to have more than its fair share. Continue Reading…

The Mermaid of Zennor by John Reinhard Weguelin 1900

The Mermaid of Zennor by John Reinhard Weguelin 1900


Myths and legends have a wonderful way of weaving themselves into the fabric of an area. They tie themselves up in historical fact, heresay and stories until you can’t tell one from another. More stories emerge from the mytholgical soup that is created. Paintings, poems and songs enrich the landscape further. To be in a physical place that anchors all these expressions of one story together and gives them the possibility of some kind of reality in the distant past, is like standing on the pages of a magical book. Drinking in the surroundings and the atmosphere whilst thinking about the characters. Where they stood, where they lived, where they died.

In the village of Zennor, a little further south from St Ives, there is a church called St Senara’s that contains a carved pew-end of a mermaid around 600 years old. It is here that a man called Mathey Trewella (there are many variations of the spelling) regularly sang the closing hymn. His voice was fine and clear and he was young and handsome. Many variations of the tale exist, some embellished and full, others scant and short, but they all agree that a mermaid was enticed to visit the church to hear him sing. Continue Reading…

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The former county town of Cornwall until they moved the crown courts to Truro, Bodmin sits to the southwest of Bodmin Moor and houses the notorious Bodmin Jail. It’s the oldest market town in Cornwall and even gets a mention in the Doomesday Book of 1066. It’s believed to have been a religious settlement & the name ‘Bodmin’ is derived from archaic words that translate as ‘Dwelling or House of Monks’. Famous places around Bodmin include the moor (naturally), Bodmin Jail, the Courtroom Experience, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway and haunted Lanhydrock House. Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall and set her famous gothic thriller ‘Jamacia Inn’ on Bodmin moor at the still existing and haunted Jamacia Inn. Ghosts are everywhere in this area and if ghosts are what you’re interested in you’ll have a field day!

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