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Title: Nooks and Corners of Cornwall

Author: C. A. Dawson Scott

Release date: December 28, 2010 [eBook #34778]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Annie McGuire. This book was produced from
scanned images of public domain material from the Internet


Book Cover




By J. S. Fletcher



By C. A. Dawson Scott


By Douglas Goldring

Price 2s. 6d. net each (with map)






[Pg v]


At first sight it seems incongruous to speak of the Nooks and Corners to be found in so rugged a land as Cornwall. The masses of rock at Tintagel, Tol-Pedn, and the Lizard, the sheer drop of the High Cliff and the Dodman, the moors, the cromlechs, and the granite tors, are so impressive that we are apt to overlook the fertile valleys that intersect the country, the coves, coombes, and "pills" in which the hillside vegetation is often semi-tropical, and where the houses are embowered in flowering shrubs till they look like Jacks-in-the-Green that have taken root.

Nor do these picturesque villages, sheltered and fruitful, this magnificent coast scenery, these grey moors, comprise the whole of this half-smiling, half-frowning land. Here in out-of-the-way places are relics of forgotten creeds and peoples, earthworks, amphitheatres, castles, the caves of smugglers, and the subterranean hiding-places of neolithic man. There is so much to interest, so much to see—almost too much it would seem, certainly too much for any one holiday; but Cornwall is a place to go to again and again, to go to till it seems as your own land, and its people have forgiven you for being a "foreigner."

This Cornish folk, clannish but kindly, has of late years been decreasing. Not only is there the competition of foreign tin, but the lodes being now deep the cost of home production has proportionately increased. "Cousin Jack" therefore has to go in search of more remunerative[Pg vi] metal, leaving "Cousin Jenny" at home to manage as best she can on his remittances.


"You can only see Cornwall by walking through it," said George Borrow, but the traveller must bear in mind that a name, large on the map, is apt to materialise into a few cottages, a lonely farmhouse, or a rocky gorge with never an inhabitant. Nor though the voice of the tourist has now for several years been heard in the land has the response, in hotels, been great; while there are not as many country inns as might be expected. The cheerful, pleasure-loving Cornishman has another aspect to his character. Generally a Nonconformist and a Sabbatarian he—perhaps more particularly she—thinks the fewer inns the better. Hamlets the size of which would lead one to expect a wayside tavern are often drawn blank, and it is as well to make inquiry, when mapping out the day's journey, as to the accommodation to be found at its latter end.

It cannot be too firmly impressed upon the traveller that along the northern and western shores both boating and bathing are unsafe. It is a dangerous coast. Fortunately very few boats are kept, and these are seldom let out to strangers; but in the matter of bathing the tourist depends upon his own wisdom, and not only is there a bad undertow but the big rollers from the Atlantic come in when least expected.

Moreover he must, when following these cliff paths, be on the look-out for blow-holes. These sinister cavities result from the action of the sea at the cliff base and of the fresh water springs above. A depression is gradually formed, the surface sinks to be washed out by the tides, till at last a round hole has been formed. This is the blow-hole. In course of time the whole of the side towards[Pg vii] the sea breaks away, leaving a tiny bay, which gradually enlarges. The Cornish who do not imagine that any one could be so foolish as to walk along this dangerous coast after dark do not safeguard the blow-holes, and it is as well to be on the look-out.

The Crosses and Churches

A word with regard to the innumerable crosses and churches.

At an early date in the history of Christianity, saints from the neighbouring countries of Brittany, Ireland and Wales appear to have poured into Cornwall. Some floated over on their altar-stones—a poetical way of saying they brought the said stones with them—others on a miraculous leaf, i.e., a coracle, while yet others appear to have walked! On arrival they found a large number of upright slabs and boulders, relics of an earlier creed and vanished race. With the sensible early-Christian habit of turning everything to account they soon invented a history and found a use for the stones.

On a lonely moorland these big menhirs made excellent way-marks; by some—possibly blocks that tradition accounted holy—the saints built their oratories, others they carved into rude crosses, and others they used as a centre about which to gather the countrypeople for service. As the local preaching-place, these last stones, like the oratories themselves, thus became the forerunners of the parish churches.

One reason for the multiplicity of these crosses—and unless those at any place should be exceptional, they will not be mentioned—may be found in the will of a certain Dr. Mertherderwa who, dying in 1447, directed that "new stone crosses are to be put up of the usual kind in those parts of Cornwall from Kayar Beslasek[Pg viii] to Camborne Church, where dead bodies are rested on their way to burial, that prayers may be made and the bearers take some rest."

There are six different kinds of crosses. Upright slabs with a Latin cross front and back; Round-headed crosses; Holed crosses, of which only twenty-seven instances are known; Latin crosses, Gothic crosses and ornamented crosses.

The Churches

When Cornwall built her innumerable small but beautiful churches, that is to say from the thirteenth (and earlier) to the sixteenth century, she showed that an ornate and vivid ritual was to her taste. She objected to and resisted the Reformation, and on its becoming an established fact went peacefully to sleep, as far as religion was concerned, until the arrival of John Wesley. As a consequence very few of the churches are modern, and most of them have Norman remains—some antiquarians even say Saxon—and a good deal of old carved oak in benches, screens, and roofs. Some of this carving is of considerable merit, and the same may be said, though more doubtfully, of the numerous frescoes; but unless the mural paintings and bench ends are in some way remarkable they will not be insisted on, nor will the Norman and other survivals in the architecture be discussed.

The Plan of the Book

The roads from Launceston and from Saltash to the Land's End—and the main roads of Cornwall are excellent, as good as any in England—go as far as possible by way of the towns. The rivers, too, are no great matter, in fact precisians have maintained that there are none. The Tamar, which best deserves the name, was fixed as the[Pg ix] eastern boundary by Athelstane in 926, while the Fal and Helford Rivers are mainly sea creeks, and the Camel and Fowey which until they become estuaries are never wider than a man, provided with a pole, can leap, are really only brooks of a fine and Tennysonian quality.

Undoubtedly then the way to see Cornwall is to follow the country roads that lead along the shore, beginning at the north where the coach crosses the border on its way from Clovelly Dykes to Bude, and ending at the Tamar. There would then remain only the reaches of that lovely river, the moorland, and what nooks and corners are to be found off the highways that run through the middle of the county.

My most sincere acknowledgments are due to Mr. Thurstan Peter, author of "The History of Cornwall," for his generous help while these pages were passing through the press.[Pg x]




The Boundary between Devon and Cornwall on the north: Kilkhampton and its Association with the Grenvilles: Morwenstow and the Rev. R. Hawker: Tonacombe and Kingsley: Stowe: the Battles of Stamford Hill and Lansdowne: Tennyson and Bude: the Neighbouring Churches: a Female Dick Whittington



[Pg xi]

The Great Cliffs: Boscastle and an Ancient Form of Tenure: Otterham and Warbstow Barrows: Trevalga and Bossiney: the Legend of St. Nechtan's Kieve: Tintagel: Arthur: The Castle: The Beach and Barras Head: The Roman Occupation: Quarries: Camelford and its Battle: Arthur's Hall: Lanteglos: Henlistone and the Brewers: The Camel: The Delabole Slate: St. Teath



Port Isaac and the Fishing: Pentire: St. Enodoc and the Sand: Lovebond's Bridge: Wadebridge and Egloshayle: Jan Tergeagle: Menhirs: Padstow and the Hobby Horse: Prehistoric Inhabitants: Harlyn Bay: Trevose Head: Constantine: A Fogou: Bedruthan: The Vale of Lanherne



Hurling and St. Columb Major: Colan: The Gratitude of the Stuarts: Trevalgue: A Good Centre for Crantock, St. Cubert, and Trerice: St. Agnes and the Giant: Portreath: the Bassets: Godrevy: Gwithian: The Pilchards



[Pg xii]

Gold in Cornwall: Knill's Monument: The Antiquities of the Extreme West: Cliff Castles: Fogous: Menhirs: Dolmens: Oratories: Superstitions: St. Ives: Wesley: Irving: A Ripe Old Age: The Mines: Sancreed and St. Buryan: Lighthouses: Whitesand Bay: The Land's End: Mousehole and Dolly Pentreath: Newlyn: Penzance



The Land of Lyonesse: The Scillies: The Law of Wrecks: Mr. Smith: The Admiral's Honour: Ding Dong Mine: St. Michael's Mount: An Old Ceremony: China Clay: Wrecks: Germoe and Breage: Pengersick: Flora Day: The Loe Pool: Serpentine: Gunwalloe and Mullion: The Lizard: Bells: The Helford River: Mawgan: Roseland



The Rise of Pendennis Castle: Sir John Arundel: The Killigrews: Sir Walter Raleigh: The General Post Office and Falmouth: Penryn: The Fal: The Stannary Courts: Old Truro: Foote and Lowry



[Pg xiii]

St. Mawes and Gerrans: Tregony and Probus: Cornish Mutton: A Story of Cornish Vengeance: Mevagissey: Antiquarian Finds: The Capital of Clayland: Cock's and Hen's Barrow: Carglaze Mine: Luxulyan: The Civil Wars: Lostwithiel: Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle: The Fight on St. Winnow's Downs: The Gallants of Fowey: Place: Lanteglos: Polperro: Stories of Talland, Killigarth, and Trelawne: The Giant's Hedge: Boconnoc: Liskeard



King Dungarth and King Alfred: Menheniot: St. Keyne: Looe: A Cage for Scolds: Looe Island and the Smugglers: The Armada: Sheviock: The Eddystone: Mount Edgcumbe: The Tamar: Trematon Castle: Markets: Saltash: Moditonham: Paleologus: Pentillie: Cotehele: Hingston Down: Polyfant: Launceston



[Pg xiv]

The Upper Reaches of the Tamar: Launceston: The Old Highways: St. Clether: Altarnon: Trebartha: The Trethevy Dolmen: The Cheesewring: St. Cleer: St. Neot: Dozmaré: Tregeagle: Lake Dwellings



[Pg xv]

Brown Willy and Row Tor: Michaelstow, St. Tudy and St. Mabyn: St. Breward and Blisland: Holland: Bodmin: Lanivet: Mitchell; Cornish Names: Blackwater and Illogan: Redruth and St. Day: Carn Brea: Camborne: A Word in Farewell


Stratton. The Tree Inn.

Bude. The Falcon; Grenville.

Boscastle. Wellington.

Tintagel. Wharncliffe; King Arthur's Castle; Clifton House.

Camelford. King's Arms.

Wadebridge. Molesworth Arms.

Padstow. South-Western; St. Petrock's.

Newquay. Atlantic; Victoria; Headland; Great Western.

Perranporth. Perranporth; Tywarnhale.

Portreath. Portreath Hotel; by Gurnard's Head, the Treryn Hotel.

St. Ives. Tregenna Castle; Western; Queen's.

Lelant. Lelant Hotel.

Land's End. First and Last.

Penzance. Queen's; Riviera Palace; Mount's Bay; Western; Railway.

Scilly. Holgate's; Tregarthen's (both on St. Mary).

Helston. Angel.

Lizard. Housel Bay; Hill's; Caerthillian.

Coverack. The Coverack Headland Hotel; St. Keverne; St. Keverne Inn.[Pg xvi]

Falmouth. Falmouth; Green Bank; King's; Royal Albion.

Truro. Red Lion; Royal; Union.

St. Austell. Luke's White Hart; Queen's Head.

Fowey. Fowey.

Looe. Commonwood; Looe; Headland House.

Saltash. Bray's; Railway; Green Dragon.

Launceston. White Hart; King's Arms.

Moors. The Jamaica Inn.

Bodmin. Royal; Town Arms.

Redruth. Tabb's.

Camborne. Commercial; Tyack's.[Pg 19]



[Pg 20]

The Boundary between Devon and Cornwall on the north: Kilkhampton and its Association with the Grenvilles: Morwenstow and the Rev. R. Hawker: Tonacombe and Kingsley: Stowe: the Battles of Stamford Hill and Lansdowne: Tennyson and Bude: the Neighbouring Churches: a Female Dick Whittington.

[Pg 21]


The coach-road from Clovelly Dykes to Bude crosses Woolley Downs, but the border on the north is the little stream that runs into Marsland Mouth. The cliff paths with their fine views and the wonderful colour of sea and sky—such colour as elsewhere only the Mediterranean gives us—are the more interesting of the offered ways. Inland lies Kilkhampton, by the Tamar, with its church of St. James, the south doorway of which is one of the richest specimens of late Norman work in the duchy. But, more interesting than the finely carved choir stalls, numerous good bench-ends and doorway, is its connection with the family of Grenville, who, descendants of the Norman dukes, lived in the parish for six hundred years, and built the church. "Never a Grenville lacked loyalty" was the saying, and the sons of the old house at Stowe proved it by confiscated property and lives laid down. From Stowe came old Sir Richard who, with his little "Revenge," fought the fifty-three galleons of Spain.

"God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before?"

From there came his grandson, gentle, gallant Sir Beville, who after his last stand against the Parliamentarians on Lansdowne, was brought back to lie in the old church of Kilkhampton; and from there, ruined and exiled for the sake of the last worthless Stuart, went out Sir Beville's younger son.

By Sir Beville lies his wife, the Lady Grace, for whom the epitaph to be seen in Minster Church might have been written:

"He first departing, she a little tried
To live without him, could not and so died."
[Pg 22]

The Earls of Bath, descendants of the Grenvilles, are buried in a vault below the south aisle, but two hundred and fifty years have passed and the name—it is a Marquisate now—is Thynne (of the Inn), nor is the head of the family a Beville. The servant who brought back his master's body sleeps at Stratton. A huge man this Anthony Payne, seven foot two in his stockings! When he lay dead in the Tree Inn so large a coffin was required that it could not be got into the house. He and Sir Beville may be dead and buried, but their lives have been woven into the talk of the countryside, and the traveller has only to ask a discreet question or so and he will hear of the great deeds of old.


The main interest of this part of the country—the extreme north—is centred in the tiny hamlet of Morwenstow with its thatched inn and its association with the Rev. Robert Hawker. He was no stranger when he came, for his father had been vicar of Stratton and lay buried there. For long the son, fearing the sadness of old associations, refused to preach in the sister parish, and when at last his reluctance was overcome and he stood in his father's pulpit it was only to hesitate and break down. He explained with faltering voice, "I stand amid the dust of those near and dear to me."

Morwenstow is reached from Marsland Mouth by the Henna Cliff (The Raven's Crag—and Welsh legend hath it that King Arthur was changed into one of these birds, though the Cornish say, a chough), from which is obtained a magnificent view of that wild coast, Dizzard, Cambeak, Tintagel, and Pentire, rising one beyond the other in shades of blue deepening to purple. The Norman doorway of the church, which like that of Marhamchurch is dedicated to St. Morwenna, is crowned with zigzag and[Pg 23] chevron mouldings which are surmounted by a range of grotesque sea-faces—mermaid, dolphin, whale, and so forth. Mr. Hawker tells how the old piscina was found and reinstated. "The chancel wall one day sounded hollow when struck; the mortar was removed, and underneath there appeared an arched aperture which had been filled up with jumbled carved work and a crushed drain. It was cleared out and so rebuilt as to occupy the exact site of its former existence. It is of the earliest type of Saxon architecture, and for all we know may be the oldest piscina in the land."

The church roof is of wood, and shingles of rended oak occupy the place of the usual tiles. "Outside the screen and at the top of the nave is the grave of a priest. It is identified by the reversed position of the carved cross on the stone, which also indicates the self-same attitude in the corpse. The head is laid down toward the east while, in all secular interments, the head is turned towards the west."

On the south side of the churchyard—as in so many along this ruthless coast—are the graves of wrecked sailors; and Hawker, a great-hearted man and to some extent a poet, was foremost in rendering the last kind offices to the dead. Over forty men, the crews of three lost vessels, lie here, while the figurehead by one lot of graves is that of the brig Caledonia from Arbroath in Scotland. No wonder ships give these stupendous cliffs as wide a berth as possible. An occasional steamer is sighted, some tramp in search of cargo goes hurrying by, but, as a rule, the wide expanse is empty of surface life, a fact which is both noticeable and suggestive.

On a spot where he had seen the lambs sheltering from wind and weather, Mr. Hawker built the vicarage. With one of his personality as architect, it was impossible it should quite resemble any other manse; therefore it is[Pg 24] not surprising to find that in the chimney-stacks he has reproduced the forms of certain church towers that he admired, while inset over the doorway is the distich:

"A house, a glebe, a pound a day,
A pleasant place to watch and pray,
Be true to Church, be kind to poor,
O Minister for evermore!"

Tonacombe and Stowe

Not far from Morwenstow lie—or rather did lie, for though Tonacombe still preserves its original design, Stowe, near Coombe Valley, the home of the Grenvilles, was unfortunately destroyed in 1715—two old manor-houses. The former, which was built in the fifteenth century, has a fine stone-floored hall with timbered roof, old open fireplace, and minstrel's gallery. Some of the rooms, which have lattice windows, are panelled, and Charles Kingsley stayed in this "in some respects the most remarkable mediæval house in the west of England," while he was writing "Westward Ho."

Of far greater interest, however, is Stowe (Anglo-Saxon for a stockaded place), at one time a magnificent building. Of it only the moat remains, but when Sir Beville rose for Charles I., many a Cornishman, who in his boyhood had stayed at Stowe, practising arms under the eye of Anthony Payne, rose with him.

The Battle of Stamford Hill

To Stratton, a little south of Stowe, came in 1643 the Parliamentarian General, Lord Stamford. The cavaliers, not then very prosperous, but gallant gentlemen all, were lying at Launceston, and the Roundhead made the mistake of underestimating their strength.[Pg 25] Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir Beville Grenville marched the twenty miles from the capital town without more food than a few biscuits. Intent on intercepting and driving out the intruder, they found when they reached Stratton late in the evening that he had entrenched himself strongly on a neighbouring hill. As he had the advantage in numbers, having about twice as many men and must know that they were tired, hungry, and in poor condition, the Royalists stood to their arms through the short May night in momentary expectation of an attack. Their leaders were at one of the Poughill cottages—they bear date 1620 and are still to be seen—and Sir Beville, while he waited anxiously, must have wondered how it had gone with wife and children, over above in the moated and stockaded house of Stowe.

Lord Stamford, however, did not take advantage of his enemy's weariness. No doubt he thought it would be more convenient, as the country was unknown to him, to scatter the little force by daylight. At any rate he sat still on the top of the hill and did nothing. In the grey dawn, therefore, the Royalists, the fiercer for their hunger and sleeplessness, decided not to wait any longer. Since he would not come down they must go up. Dashingly they attacked his entrenchment, doggedly they continued the fight. After nine hours of it, word was passed round that their scanty store of ammunition had come to an end. But they were nothing daunted. Grimly and in a strange silence they made the last assault; and this time were successful, the leaders of the four narrow columns meeting at the top of the hill. As they did so, Lord Stamford, who had looked on from a safe distance, set spurs to his horse, and fled headlong. Cornwall was won for King Charles, and from the battlefield Francis Basset of Tehidy could write to his wife[Pg 26] "Dearest soule, ring out the bells, raise bonfires, publish these joyful tidings."

A year or two later, however, Stratton told a different tale. Cornwall might in the main be Royalist, but all England was for a change in the government; and presently Lord Essex, driving Sir Richard Grenville—a brother of Sir Beville—before him, crossed the Tamar and stormed the house at Stowe. It was the beginning of evil days. In 1646 Hopton, the Royalist General, retired to Stratton with a broken, dispirited and, alas! disorderly army, and from thence Sir Thomas Fairfax drove him back across the pass at Wadebridge which Cromwell—it is the only mention of him in Cornish annals—was sent to secure.

The Battle of Lansdowne Hill

But by then Sir Beville was dead. After the—surely the name is ironical—battle of Stamford Hill, he and his victorious troops had marched to the King's aid. At the battle of Lansdowne, on the heights above Bath, Sir Beville, sorely wounded, was struck out of his saddle by a pole-axe. The pikemen he was leading fell into confusion, and in an instant the Parliamentarians were among them, hewing them down. Then did Anthony Payne, Sir Beville's giant retainer, come to the rescue. Catching his master's riderless horse, he set on it young John, a stripling of sixteen, Sir Beville's eldest son; and led him to the head of the wavering pikemen. The appeal was irresistible. The Cornish followed their beloved leader's son like men possessed; and so, while Sir Beville lay dying on the hillside, his regiment, led by his faithful servant and his young son, swept all before them.

One is glad to remember that at the Restoration[Pg 27] when the family's confiscated estates were restored to them, young John, in memory of his own deeds and those of his greater father, was created Earl of Bath.

Tennyson at Bude

Bude with its wide sands and unsafe harbour is without historical associations, but it can be used, having hotels, as a centre from which to visit the more interesting towns (so-called, but they are no bigger than an ordinary village) and hamlets of the neighbourhood. Tennyson, when he had it in mind to write his Arthurian Idylls, came here—no doubt for local colour, though being a Victorian what he said was, "That he must go to Bude and be alone with God!" During his visit he rode out to Morwenstow to call on Mr. Hawker, and the less-known bard has left an interesting account of their interview.

"I found my guest ... a tall, swarthy, Spanish-looking man with an eye like a sword. He sate down, and we conversed. I at once found myself with no common mind.... Before he left the room, he said: 'Do you know my name?'

"I said: 'No, I have not even a guess.'

"'Do you wish to know it?'

"'I don't much care—that which we call a rose, &c.'

"'Well, then,' said he, 'my name is Tennyson.'

"'What!' said I, 'the Tennyson?'

"'What do you mean by the Tennyson? I am Alfred Tennyson, who wrote "Locksley Hall," which you seem to know by heart.'

"So we grasped hands, and the Shepherd's heart was glad."[Pg 28]

Churches of the Neighbourhood

With regard to certain old churches, St. Olaf's, at Poughill, has two rather crudely restored mural paintings and, set heavily in the south door, what is reputed to be one of the few genuine sanctuary rings still in existence. The church at Marhamchurch also shows the remains of frescoes, while Stratton has a fine stoup, and in the north wall of the chancel an Easter sepulchre, probably the only one in the county. That of Swithin—dear apple saint—at Launcells, has a circular font reputed to date from Saxon times, and the fifteenth century bench-ends, though rudely carved, show a play of symbolic fancy, unusual in Cornwall. On one you see the visit of Mary when she mistook the gardener for Christ, Mary being represented by a spice-box, the gardener by a spade! On another the Harrowing of Hell is represented by the jaws of a dragon, and so with the various subjects. An empty grave and cross triumphant tells the story of the resurrection, while the supper at Emmaus, though faithfully suggested, is given without the introduction of a single human figure. It is all symbolism—riddles which are interesting to guess, but not always easy.

Week St. Mary

Some five miles or so south of Marhamchurch lies Week St. Mary, about a native of which village a sort of Dick Whittington story is told. In a field adjoining the churchyard the remains of extensive buildings can be traced, and these, once a chantry, were said to be due to the pious energy of Dame Thomasin Perceval. As a girl she herded geese on the common of Greenamore, until in the shape of a staid and, alas! already married merchant, the Prince came riding by. He spoke to the[Pg 29] girl and found her as pleasant in discourse as to the eye. Without more ado, therefore, he took her away with him—and here, though propriety is preserved, the fairy-tale suddenly drops to unromantic fact—he took her to wait upon his wife! In course of time, however, that good lady died and the middle-aged Prince was free to marry his goose-girl.

After many years she returned as a rich widow to her native parish, and there spent the remnant of her days in a cheerful and rather bustling philanthropy, repairing anything in the way of churches, bridges, and roads that required attention, portioning the virtuous and hard working of her own sex and generally playing Lady Bountiful—or so it is said!

In the churchwardens' Accounts of Stratton under date 1513 we read:

"paid for my lady parcyvale ijs Meneday [i.e. day of prayer for her soul] to iiij preistes & for bred & ale 1s. 1d."[Pg 31][Pg 30]



[Pg 33][Pg 32]

The Headlands

The cliffs from Marsland Mouth to Trevose Head are fine, much finer than those on the better known south coast. The seas also are wilder, these shores seeming to suffer from fiercer onslaughts of the Atlantic. On a blustery day it is nothing to see the tortured waves break into a spray that is flung full forty feet into the air, while except in sheltered dips and coves—of which there are none too many in this part—neither tree nor shrub can live. This gives the headlands a barren look, the bold outlines are of grey boulders rather than vegetation, and behind them on the windy downs crouch the grey hamlets and solitary farms. For sheer beauty of crag and precipice, of mighty seas and broken slipped sea-front, there is nothing in the duchy that can compare with this piece of coast. Upon the great cliffs of Widemouth Bay, of which the name is sufficiently descriptive, follow Dizzard Point (500 ft.) with its landslip, Castle Point, so called from the circular earthwork on its summit, Pencarrow Head (400 ft.), between which and Cambeak (500 ft.) at the mouth of a wooded valley lies the lovely Crackington Cove and which brings us to the High Cliff with its sheer drop of 735 ft. This last is the highest in Cornwall, nearly double the height of the Dodman, that glory of the southern coast, while it is far higher than the Land's End and the Lizard. A little inland is yet higher ground, for Tresparret Down, a barren and desolate heath, is some 850 ft. above sea level!

Somewhat to the north of the High Cliff is St. Genys, the saint of which is said to have been one of three brothers, all of whom were beheaded. This particular brother is believed to have walked about afterwards, his head held under his arm, a proceeding which reminds[Pg 34] us that "King Charles walked and talked, half an hour after his head was cut off!"

There is here an interesting example of an Elizabethan communion cup and paten cover, but it must be remembered that many cups of that date are older in material than in shape. When the word cup was substituted for chalice, we find by the churchwarden's accounts that the vessels were frequently re-shaped. We have, for example, one of 1571, "to Iohn Ions, goldsmith, for changing the chalice into a cup, £1 15s. 5d."


After the High Cliff the shore gradually assumes a less terrific aspect, until Boscastle, with its tiny firth and its blow-holes, is reached. This little straggling place took its name from Botreaux Castle (or Castel-boterel), which was built here in the twelfth century. The last Lord Botreaux died in 1462, and of the castle only a grassy mount, called Jordans, from a neighbouring stream, remains. This mount is on the hill, that steep and wooded hill which leads down into Boscastle, and on the sides of which the houses are hung like birds' nests on a cliff.

At the end of the valley the hills unite into slaty cliffs which take a sudden fjord-like turn before reaching the sea. This short and tiny estuary cannot, of course, compare with the smallest of those winding inlets which make the strange beauty of the Norwegian coast, inlets whose walls would dwarf the High Cliff and whose majestic desolation would make the barrenest headland in the west seem mild and fertile.

If the tide is in, the islet at the mouth of Boscastle Harbour sends up sudden showers of spray which suggest a geyser, but are in reality due to a blow-hole, and there is another on the mainland.[Pg 35]

An ancient form of tenure survives here. The upper part of Forrabury Common is divided into "stitches"—slips of land divided by boundary marks only—and these stitches are held in severalty from Lady Day to Michaelmas, the proprietors for the rest of the year stocking it in common, according to the amount of their holdings. The hilly part of the common being unfit for cultivation is stocked in common all the year round.

Boscastle has two churches, that of Forrabury, which has been too zealously restored, deal having been substituted for the sixteenth-century oak benches and for the old pulpit that was covered with arabesques, and Minster. Near Minster, on Waterpit Downs, is a fine specimen of Celtic interlaced work on a cross shaft. It is now rescued, but for many years it served to bear the pivot of a threshing-machine. The church itself stands on the chancel site of an old minster. A doorway, now blocked, once led to the priory buildings, but of them nothing remains.

Otterham and Warbstow Barrows

Inland from Boscastle is Otterham, which possesses two bells dating from before the Reformation and mentioned in the inventory of Edward VI. The inscriptions on these mediæval bells are interesting, a frequent one being, "With my living voice I drive away all evil things." A little to the east of Otterham, on a hill 807 ft. above sea level, is Warbstow Barrows, one of the largest and best preserved earthworks in the county. Its two ramparts have each two entrances, the outer wall being 15 ft. high with a ditch 15 ft. wide. In the middle is a barrow known as the Giant's Grave, perhaps the resting-place of a chieftain who died in defence of the place, and was buried where he fell. Cornwall is[Pg 36] thickly strewn with these memorials of the past. Earthworks of different race encampments lie cheek by jowl, strings of forts reach from sea to sea, and even the cliffs are fortified. These cliff castles, and there are traces of fortification on almost every headland, must have been built by people who were actually "between the devil and the deep sea." Foot by foot they must have given way, till at length they stood with their backs to the sea, defending from their enemies one ultimate rock. Only too often is there a grave within these defences, the grave of the last man, strong enough to hold back the enemy, but slain at last.

To the south-west of Boscastle is Willapark Head, and beyond it are some caves which until recently were haunted, as was all this north-western coast, by mild-eyed seals. "A man with a gun" and the English instinct to "go out and kill something," an instinct useful in the days of the mammoth and the cave-tiger, but more than a little tiresome in our present state of civilisation, is responsible for their disappearance. There are still the caves to be seen.

St. Nechtan's Kieve Bossiney

Inland the little towns are of slight interest, with the exception of the old cross at Lambrenny, but the walk along the cliffs—and the Cornish are amiably ignorant that trespassers ought to be prosecuted—presents an ever-changing panorama of lichened rocks and lacy surf and every shade of wonderful blue. In Trevalga Church is some old woodwork that has been carefully placed against the east wall of the church, and presently we are crossing the neck of the Rocky Valley on our way to derelict Bossiney—Bossiney once having mayor and officers and represented in Parliament by Sir Francis[Pg 37] Drake, but now only a sleepy lovely nook in a quiet corner of the land! At the head of the Rocky Valley is St. Nechtan's Kieve, a fine but broken waterfall of some 40 ft. A legend is told of two unknown ladies who inhabited a cottage near by and who died without ever having revealed their names, but the legend sprang like so many others from the fertile brain of the Rev. Robert Hawker. He thought the place looked as if it ought to have a legend, and not finding one was both ready and able to supply the deficiency. A cross which was formerly part of the garden gate and was supposed to be of the ninth century has been taken to Tintagel, and is now to be seen in the garden of that comfortable old-fashioned hostelry, the Wharncliffe Arms.


The far-famed "Dundagel" consists of a single grey street, lined in irregular fashion with grey cottages and houses. In this land of stone you sigh for the cheerful sight of a red-brick building or a glowing tiled roof; but the stone used is grey, and where the roofs are not of a cold blue slate, they are of a thatch held on by ropes that are heavily weighted. The place is still primitive. Until recently the nearest baker lived at Delabole, and to judge by the prizes (instead of cakes) on view in his window, he must have been the king of pastry cooks. In Cornwall, however, the housewife still bakes her own bread and is in other ways more self-sufficing, and let us add more thrifty, than elsewhere.


"Who Arthur was," says Milton, "and whether any such person reigned in Britain hath been doubted heretofore and may again with good reason." We must remember that the traditions concerning him were not[Pg 38] reduced to writing until centuries after his death, while Gildas, who was born according to his own account in what would be Arthur's lifetime, does not mention him.

The legends, however, assert that he was born at Tintagel Castle about 499 a.d., that he had three wives, but no children, and that his second wife, Yenifer (Guinevere), was buried with him at Glastonbury. Against the probability of this is the fact that Tintagel is not mentioned in Domesday and that its ruins are of the thirteenth century with later additions. It is quite likely, however, that the place, which is strongly situated on a jutting headland—the so-called Island—was fortified from time immemorial. It may originally have been one of those pathetic cliff castles, may have been improved on and made habitable by the conquering race of that epoch, and may eventually have fallen into decay.

The Castle

The present ruins are said to represent a castle built some little time after the Norman Conquest, a castle which speedily fell out of repair, for it had to be restored by Richard, King of the Romans, brother of Henry III., before he could entertain his nephew, David, Prince of Wales, here in 1245.

When Cornwall, till then an earldom, was made a duchy (1337) and bestowed on the Black Prince, a boy seven years old, all the castles were again fallen into decay. At Tintagel the timber had even been removed from the great hall "because the walls were ruinous." The main part of the building appears to have been on the Island, but it was connected with outworks on the shore by a drawbridge. Sir Richard Grenville, who made an official survey in 1583, tells us that this drawbridge, which had been in existence within living memory, was gone, its supports having been washed away by the[Pg 39] waves. The sea having continued its work of destruction, the space is now too wide for any drawbridge to span, and in spite of a handrail the little climb to the "Island" ruins is a dizzy one. Nor is there much to see. Some of the masonry is recent, while the tiny chapel and altar are of about the same date as the later parts of the castle, but the view is fine. It makes up for the disappointment in Tintagel as a castle, for the disappointment of finding that here is no certain tradition of Arthur, that the very people feel about him much as Milton did. He may have been born here, this may have been his very castle of Dindraithon, but if so they know nothing of it. Arthur is a thing of books, of art, not life, of the Morte, the Idylls, and—best of all perhaps—of Clemence Housman's wonderful story "Sir Aglovaine de Galis," but he has no place in present-day folklore.

On the top of the mainland outworks is a doorway which in an eerie manner opens upon space, and a sheer drop of many hundreds of feet. It shows how much the sea is encroaching. Once upon a time this probably led to the look-out tower. Now the very foundations of that tower are gone and presently the masonry will go too, and the waters will roar unhindered between the mainland and the island.

The Beach and Barras Head

Far below is a tiny dark beach, the colour of which is explained when having climbed down a wooden stairway clamped to the rock—the only means of approach—it is found to consist entirely of rounded pieces of slate. They are of all weights and sizes, but there is no sand, no shells, nothing but slate. Opposite the Castle rock is Barras Head, and there at last the big modern hotel can be ignored and the wanderer lie out on the short,[Pg 40] dry turf with the long line of hazy coast to either hand and, before him, the islands white with sea-birds and pink with thrift and the boundless stretch of sunlit waters.

"To be by the translucent green, the blue
Deepening to purple where the weed is dense!
To hear the homing call as the brave sweep
Of wings is folded on a sea-girt rock!
To lie in golden warmth while tow'ring waves
Break with a lazy roar along the cliffs—
To lie and dream."

It is here that Swinburne, venturing on a swim, was nearly drowned. The same story is told of him on the French coast, only there it was Guy de Maupassant who brought him back in safety. The great French writer is reported to have said that the little English poet, with his bladder-like head and attenuated body, struck him as hardly sane. Yet it was Maupassant who died mad, not Swinburne.

An Inscribed Stone

At Tintagel was discovered in 1888 a stone on which is inscribed IMP C G Val Lic Licin, i.e., Imperatore Cæsare Galerio Valerio Liciniano Licinio, who reigned 307-324 a.d. It is evident therefore that whether Arthur was here or not the Romans were. What a pity that no one has been able to discover any satisfactory evidence in enduring stone of the British king's existence!

The cruciform church on the cliff is largely Norman, but portions of it belong to almost every succeeding age and period. Some have even held that it contains Saxon work, but the authorities are not agreed.[Pg 41]

A Dangerous Occupation

On the way to Trebarwith along the cliffs—and Trebarwith is a narrow rocky opening up which the tide rushes with tremendous force—are quarries. It is strange to see men, with the carelessness of long habit, walk to the very edge of the cliff, lie down and, with their legs hanging over, feel with their feet for the rough ladder that leads down the rock-face to the quarry opening; or to see them stand on a plank that juts out over the sea, and is maintained in its position by a chunk of rock, casually adjusted. If the plank should give, or the rock roll aside! But a man stands there from morning till night loading and unloading slates.

The Battle of Gafulford

Inland from Tintagel is Camelford, with its local tradition of a battle. At Slaughter Bridge, near Worthyvale, one and a half miles from Camelford, fragments of armour, ornaments of bridles, weapons, have been found, and in 823 a battle was certainly fought at some place then called Gafulford between the Saxons of Devon and the Celts of Cornwall, a battle in which the Cornish were defeated. May not this unknown Gafulford be Camelford? Writers have suggested that this may have been the scene of Arthur's last battle; but the weight of tradition is against this theory, a more likely place having been pointed out in Scotland.

Arthur's Hall

While on the subject of the legendary British king, it would be interesting to see a supposed feasting-chamber, which from before the time of Henry VIII. was known as Arthur's Hall. South-west of Brown Willy, it is about five miles from Camelford, in the parish of St. Breward.[Pg 42] It appears at present as a pit hollowed out in a light sandy soil. This excavation, which is 159 ft. long, is enclosed by an earthen bank with slabs of granite about 7 ft. high, placed evenly on the inner side. The absence of true walls makes it doubtful whether it was roofed over, but it may have had a self-supporting skeleton roof, covered with a web of branches or with sods.


As is so often the case in Cornwall, the Camelford church is at some distance from the place to which it ministers, being, indeed, a mile and a half away at Lanteglos. In the churchyard is a celebrated stone with an inscription in eleventh-century Saxon capitals: "ÆLSELTH & GENERETH WROHTE THYSNE SYBSTEL FOR ÆLWYNEYS SAUL & FOR HEYSEL." About a quarter of a mile from the church is the well-known entrenchment called Castle Goff, with a single rampart and ditch.

The Forty Brewers of Helston

Below Lanteglos is the manor of Helston, and Domesday records "that there were forty brewers on the royal manor of Henliston." This is the only mention in the great survey of brewers as an item of population, and forty seems a good many for one place. Did they brew all the beer in the county; and was it Henliston ale that so appalled Andrew Borde when he thought to visit Cornwall, that he turned back saying: "it looked as if pigges had wrasteled in it"?

The River

Camelford is not far from either of the sources of the Camel, and the upper moorland reaches of the twin[Pg 43] streams abound in charming spots where the water frets among boulders and swirls in sunshine and shadow among ferns and wild flowering shrubs. The sisters do not join forces till they reach Kea Bridge, over ten miles from their source, but as soon as depth allows of their existence sweet small trout are plentiful.

The Delabole Slate

Between Camelford and Tintagel are the now silent quarries of North Delabole (or Dennyball). The road winds between great walls and under archways of slate which look as if a touch would send the whole erection sliding and rushing down upon the wayfarer. But the slates were set up by cunning fingers and have withstood the gales of this coast for a score of years. Very different is their mournful creeper-grown desolation from the arid activity of Delabole. The approach to the high grey windy street is marked by deep ferny lanes. Here are thirty acres of quarry and rubble heap, a hideous excavation. In 1602 the quarry, already old, was 900 ft. long, in 1882 it had grown to 1300 ft., and it is growing still. The best slate is called bottom stone and lies at a depth of from 25 to 40 fathoms, for the quarry is now over 400 ft. deep. Beautiful crystals the so-called Cornish diamonds, are found in these workings, truly the only beautiful things in a most dreary place.

St. Teath

When the church at little sleepy St. Teath was restored in 1877, two massive Norman responds at the east end of the north aisle were discovered. There is also some good roof timber and a little ancient glass. The pulpit bears the arms of the Carminows and their motto: "Cala Rag Whetlow"—a straw for a tell-tale. It was John of Gaunt, "time-honoured Lancaster," that Prince who,[Pg 44] though never a king, was the ancestor of so many, who upon true evidence found Carminow of Cornwall "to be descended of a lineage armed 'Azure a bend Or' since the time of King Arthur;" and indeed the Carminows were certainly here at the Conquest. They are now extinct, the last of the family, a devoted Royalist, dying in 1646.

In the graveyard, on a slab fastened to the church, is the following epitaph:

"Here lyeth the body of Robert Bake, son of Samuel Bake, who was buried the xxx day of January, 16—.
But what cheere-up altho our sonne be gone
Altho his bodiy must be racke and toren
With filthy bitter bitinge wormes of dust
And be consumd as all our bodies must
Yet still cheere-up comforte yourselves: in this
Tho the bodiy died the soule emmortall is
And now in heaven most ioyfully shall singe
O: grave where is thy strength, death where is thy victory
With God above for all e-terny-tie:
For Robert Bake."
[Pg 45]



[Pg 46]

Port Isaac and the Fishing: Pentire: St. Enodoc and the Sand: Lovebond's Bridge: Wadebridge and Egloshayle: "Jan Tergeagle": Menhirs: Padstow and the Hobby Horse: Prehistoric Inhabitants: Harlyn Bay: Trevose Head: Constantine: A Fogou: Bedruthan: The Vale of Lanherne.

[Pg 47]

Port Isaac

So long and so steep is the hill between Port Gavernoe and Port Isaac that the Cornishman, though not noted for kindness to animals, does not often ask his horse to negotiate it, and indeed these Cornish hills are a sovereign specific for nerves. No one who has been up and down them, behind one of the surefooted country-bred ponies, can fear any ordinary descent.

From the hill the view of the little grey town is hardly inviting. It lies huddled together as if it had slipped down the sides of the cleft in which it rests. Very crooked are its narrow roads; all sideways, askew and anyhow the small houses; there are no gardens, hardly any backyards; and at certain seasons of the year young and stalwart men seem to be conspicuous by their absence. "They'm all away at work and they do belong to go, for there edn't no money here, only the fishin'," is the explanation.

Fishing is indeed the reason for Port Isaac's existence and for that of her smaller neighbours, Port Gaverne and Port Quin, each of which lies at the head of a similar sandy inlet. Port Isaac, it is true, has a harbour deep enough to admit steamers of 150 tons burden, and most of the Delabole slates are shipped from here, but fishing is the main interest. "Cousin Jack" is a strict Sabbatarian, but not so his rival from the east coast. It is bad enough to see the fish caught in waters he looks upon as his, but particularly so under the circumstances; and, as a consequence, he has sometimes taken the law into his own hands. "If à must fishey," says he, "leave en fishey fair," and one Monday morning when the strangers endeavoured to land eight boatloads that had been captured during Sunday night, his patience reached its limit. "All that day gulls swarmed in the little[Pg 48] harbour, and thereafter the place reeked of decaying fish. So now the east countrymen deem it wiser to land their Sunday's catch elsewhere."

Is it possible that this nook of the coast also reeks somewhat of decaying fish? What of it? Many a fishing town lies ahead, and they were not called "Fishy-gissy" and "Polstink" for nothing. May be—as you are told when you get a whiff of the gasworks—it is a healthy smell; any way, healthy or no, like those same gasworks it is not to be denied.


"From Padstow Point to Hartland Light,
Is a watery grave by day or night"

runs the country saying, voicing the fear that haunts every fisherman's cottage along the coast; and if the children, in their carelessness, lay a loaf cut-side down, so that it looks like a boat turned bottom upwards, the elders shiver and bid them right it at once. Pentire, which stands out at one side of the estuary above low-lying Padstow, has two points, the Eastern and the Western Horns; and a view up the entire coast of Cornwall and onward to blunt Trevose that should not be missed. On the eastern point of the bay is a well-defined cliff castle. It is evident that the triple mounds and ditches were for purposes of defence, but neither local history nor tradition has a word about those by whom they were built. This only is certain, that the folk must have been desperate who came to make their last stand on this wild and lonely spot.

On the headland is a cave in some way connected with "Cruel Coppinger," who, by his brutality for years, dominated the western coast (though he was perhaps less seen at Padstow than elsewhere). His[Pg 49] smuggling lugger, the Black Prince, was known from Morwenstow to Newquay, and many are the wild deeds—he did not even stop short of murder—recorded of this desperado, from the day he was landed on these shores to that other day when, the measure of his iniquities being full, he set sail never to return. Not that all smuggling was undertaken in so lawless a fashion. It was rather an agreeable diversion spiced with adventure, and gentleman, parson, farmer, and peasant all lent a hand. "Cruel Coppinger's" is not the only cave along this coast that is said to have been haunted by "spirits"—as indeed they were, and by silks and lace as well! Nor were the hiding-places only those provided by Nature. The pulling down of old houses has revealed many a hollow in the thick walls and under the flagged floors; there is even a story that one great gentleman used to conceal a store of illicit goods—in his carriage!

Relics of an older civilisation have been dug up on these headlands. It is possible, before the sand swept in overwhelmingly, that the coast may have supported a larger population. Roman coins and beads, strange blue iridescent glass, and bits of red glaze, the glaze of Samian ware, have been found; and among these things articles of a yet earlier date, as for instance, a roughly made coral necklace thought to be British or earlier.

St. Enodoc and the Sand

From this point westward the coast has been afflicted with sandstorms, churches have been buried, towns obliterated by the drifting particles. Blowing steadily for three days at a time, the frightened people have left their houses to escape suffocation, and fled inland only on their return to find the face of the country changed beyond recognition. St. Enodoc Church, during one of these visitations, was covered with sand above[Pg 50] the level of the roof, only the thirteenth-century broach spire remaining above the waste to indicate the whereabouts of the building. In order to perform service, the parson, after some digging, managed to enter by the roof; and it may be wondered why on that lonely waste a service should be required. It was not, however, a matter of saving souls, but of obtaining tithes. About forty years ago the church was excavated, and it now lies in a deep trench. The path is lined with a curious collection of stone mortars or measures, which however are not ecclesiastical. Near by rises the desolate Bray Hill, under which, early last century, storms having shifted the sands, the ruins of what is thought to be an oratory came to light.

The churches of St. Minver and St. Kew are both interesting. The former contains three octagonal slate piers supporting pointed arches, the remains of a fine oak rood screen, and—an article which seems nowadays somewhat out of place, but no doubt is stored there against destruction or oblivion—the stocks. St. Kew lies in a lovely wooded valley, and is one of the finest churches in Cornwall, but is not often visited. Fine woodwork is to be seen in the cradle roof, while the chancel screen was carefully modelled on one of earlier date. The communion cup is Elizabethan, but more interesting is a glass egg-shaped bowl with silver mounts of 1598. When Bodmin Church was restored (1472) it seems to have sold its fine old windows to any church that would buy, and St. Kew was fortunate enough to secure one, that in the north chapel. Not far from here is Polrode, where, serving as part of the bridge, is a good, though mutilated, example of a roundheaded cross with beaded angles. At St. Endellion, a little north of Kew, is a stoup carved with the arms of Roscarrock, Chenduit, and Pentire—and heraldic stoups are rare.[Pg 51]

Lovebond's Bridge

On the road to Wadebridge is an earthwork known as Castle Killibury or Kelly Rounds, which was known to have been in existence—and out of repair—as early as 1478. Commanding the road down to the ford it was evidently once a place of considerable strength. This ford was not bridged until the reign of Edward IV., when a fine bridge with a span of seventeen arches was built by a man named Lovebond. At first it was so narrow that only pack-horses could cross, and over every pier protecting angles were placed for the need of pedestrians. The bridge was 320 ft. long, and the finest of its kind in England. It has been widened, but its character carefully preserved. For a long time it was believed that on account of the shifting sands the piers rested on packs of wool. Examination, however, has proved the story an invention, for they are on a rock foundation.

It was over this bridge that the broken Royalists hurried in 1646, a long disorderly straggle of men and guns and baggage, with Cromwell, grimly patient, at their heels. Had there been union and discipline in the forces, they would have been no easy conquest; but there had long been dissension among the leaders, and the condition of the common soldiers was both wretched and demoralised. As Clarendon records, they were "feared by their friends, scorned by their enemies, terrible only in plunder and resolute in running away." With such troops as these nothing could be done. Sir Richard Grenville, tyrannical and quarrelsome, had been committed to Launceston gaol, Prince Charles himself had left the country, and only the loyal Hopton was left. Once across the Camel and the soldiers were penned into the western half of the peninsula; but a spark of that old spirit which had won so many victories for the king was shown in a skirmish at St. Columb[Pg 52] Major. It was the last flicker of life. In March the commissioners met at Tresillian Bridge, terms were agreed on, and the Royalist army disbanded on honourable conditions.

Wadebridge and Egloshayle

Wadebridge is a little market town, so little that it has not even a resident dentist! It has, however, an air of life which is unusual in Cornwall; but that may be partly due to the cheery little streams that run through the open gutters of the main streets. Here you buy chickens by the pound and new-laid eggs—sometimes—for a halfpenny each; but the place is neither beautiful nor interesting. Very different is Egloshayle, the "church by the river," a name which it deserves, for the water washes against the fence of the haunted graveyard. Historians tell us that the Loveybound who was vicar here in 1462 and who built the south aisle and fine three-stage western tower must not be confounded with the Lovebond of about the same date who built the bridge, that indeed it is a case of "It wasn't Mr. William Shakespeare who wrote the plays, but another gentleman of the same name." The church is about a mile up the river from Wadebridge, and stands in a group of chestnuts. The sculptured stone pulpit is of the fifteenth century, and in the roof of the south aisle is some good oak of the same date. The hood-mouldings of the tower doorway are ornamented with angels bearing shields, on one of which is cut the name "I. Loveybound" and the device of three hearts banded together with a fillet.

On the other side of Wadebridge lies St. Breock, where "John Tregeagle of Trevorder, Esqr., 1679," is buried. 'Tis said that at his death, owing to some[Pg 53] inaccuracy in his accounts—he was steward of the Robartes' estates—a poor man was sued for money that he had already paid. By the agency of the parson, who seems to have been some sort of a wizard, Tregeagle was induced to return to earth and give evidence for the defence, which evidence proved conclusive. Cornwall is full of legends about Tregeagle, who seems to have been a hard man and an oppressive steward; but no doubt, as often happens, the legends are of earlier date than the individual to whom they are momentarily attached. The wraith who gave them birth has faded out of living memory, is indeed dead; but like disturbed but sleepy birds, they have quickly settled again on some character still bulking largely in the public eye.


Beyond the little church the ground rises to St. Breock Downs, which are 700 ft. above sea level and strewn with prehistoric remains. Nine big stones in a straight line are followed by a menhir, a disposition often seen on Dartmoor; and at Pawton is a dolmen called the Giant's Quoit, an exceptionally fine example. The menhir is known as the Old Man, probably from houl mæn, a sun stone. The word "man" or "men" or "maiden" when met with in the west invariably means a stone, but those responsible for our latter-day legends were often unaware of this.

By way of the broad sunshiny estuary, which is as beautiful when the tide is out and the distant gulls stand like a string of pearls on the edge of the yellow sand, as when the whole expanse is one stretch of dimpling blue water, we come to Padstow. At Little Petherick, which is halfway, there is a copy of the 1684 edition of Foxe's "Book of Martyrs," and the south doorway of the church is believed to have been stolen from the[Pg 54] ruined edifice on Constantine Bay—at any rate there is no mention in the churchwardens' accounts of any payment made.

Padstow and the Hobby Horse

A short distance from the mouth of the estuary and looking up the blue reaches to the open sea lies the little port of Padstow. In early days it was so near the Atlantic that wandering Danes (901) came and plundered its monastery of St. Petrock, and later the sand blocked up the wide mouth of the harbour forming the Doom Bar, and leaving only a narrow channel on the west. But the little place with its narrow streets all running uphill, its unprotected sharp-cornered quay, and its dominant manor-house, still contrives to exist. It is at its best perhaps when stress of weather has driven in the fishing fleet, and there is a forest of masts clustered by the wharves. On such occasions milk and bread are hard to come by, for there will be five hundred extra mouths to feed.

A quaint survival of the ancient May Day celebrations exists in the Hobby Horse, a wooden circle with a dress of blackened sail-cloth, a horse's head, and a prominent tail. This is carried through the town, the bearers meanwhile chanting a song which, in spite of an old tune and refrain, is full of topical allusions.

Halfway up one of the steep roads that lead out into the country is the beautifully situated Prideaux Place. The family, though of respectable antiquity, has not taken any leading part in the history of the county, but in the house are some interesting pictures, a Vandyke, and some early Opies. When the old home of the Grenvilles was finally dismantled, the great staircase was brought from Stowe and set up here to be a link with the immemorial past.[Pg 55]

Round Padstow the land is fertile, very fine wheat being grown; and it is believed that a certain farmer pays his rent with the produce of a single field of asparagus. It is astonishing that more of the succulent edible is not grown, or that the sandhills of the coast are not utilised as they were round Southampton for growing strawberries. A fortune may lurk in the sand, the devastating sand, or, if that is too much to ask, at least it may give back more than it has taken. But the farmers are disinclined for change, and if you ask why there are so few milch kine and why vegetables and other amenities of life are so difficult to get, you are told: "Spoase they'm warm men, got a long stocking. They don't trouble."


Along the estuary to the north is a way which, in windy weather, is dangerous, but at other times gives a succession of lovely views and which brings the walker past Rockferry (mentioned as early as 1337) to Stepper Point, with its white day-mark. The cliffs for a little are high and not too safe, but Tregudda Gorge with its amethyst and topaz crystals, its flints and worked slates, is a lonely and a beautiful spot. The Cornish tell strange stories of these places, stories of the "little people" whom they believe to be fairies,[1] but who are probably the neolithic dwarf race which is said to have inhabited parts of the country. They are also firm believers in psychic faculty, though they call it by other older names. A man interested in such matters met a London friend at the Padstow terminus. Aware that his friend was supposed to be clairvoyant, he without comment put a fragment of bone that he had found on an old kitchen[Pg 56] midden in the other's hand and asked him what he saw. "Now, this is interesting," said the other, "for I see walking away before me a little brown man dressed in skins. On his feet are brogues of hide with the hair inside."

The friends were walking by the estuary and the tide was in. "He has got into a queer sort of basket boat covered with hides and is paddling about among a lot of other little brown people in similar boats. Ah, there is a forest over there." The antiquarian looked across the discoloured line of the Doom Bar to the sandhills opposite, but not a tree was to be seen. He remembered afterwards, however, that many centuries ago a forest, now submerged, had occupied the eastern side of the Camel estuary.

So sparsely inhabited is this coast that the worked flints and arrow-heads of that bygone people still lie on the undisturbed surface of the rocky land. The flints are so sharp, so clean, that it seems their owners can have only just laid them down. And we must remember that this is not a flint country. Every sharp atom was brought from far away in the days when the rivers had to be forded and there were only paths over the waste. Yet, onward from Tregudda Gorge, there are any number to be found. Moreover after Trevone—an uninteresting place where some bathing fatalities have occurred—we come, in broad and beautiful Harlyn Bay, to the necropolis of this vanished race.

Harlyn Bay

In 1900, when digging for the foundations of a house, an oblong slate kist, lying north and south, and containing a "crouched" burial, was found. The drift sand lay some 8 to 10 ft. above the grave, within which the skeleton lay on his side, his hands over his eyes, his knees bent[Pg 57] under him in what seems to us an attitude of devotion; as he lay the first ray of the rising sun would strike athwart his face. Further investigation showed that the discovered kist was only one of a group of interments, and that the graves covered some 90 ft., giving signs of a long continued series of burials, rather than of a great number within a short period. The date of interment is considered to be that of the later iron age, no great antiquity it is true, but some few thousand years ago. The kind and courteous owner, Colonel Bellers, allows access to this prehistoric graveyard—locally known as the Boneries—and near by is a small museum for the preservation of interesting finds. Some of the kists have been left in situ and, to preserve them from wind and weather, have been covered with a sort of cucumber frame, and the stranger looks down through the glass on to the brown bones in their enduring coffins of slate. Here lies a chieftain, for over his kist were heaped rough lumps of quartz crystal; here a mother and child, little bones and bigger; and here, in a heterogeneous mixture of all sorts and sizes, is a hint of tragedy. Were they the result of a battle—of a cannibal feast—or of justice done!

A tooth from this strange and lonely graveyard was enclosed in a little box and sent to a friend in London with instructions to place it unopened in the hands of a clairvoyant. No information was vouchsafed with the tooth, and the mystified go-between was only asked to take down what was said, and this he did. At first the clairvoyant seemed rather puzzled. "I can see a wide, sandy bay with rocks and cliffs, a rough tumbling sea, and at the head of the bay a dense wood; but the people are not like any I've ever seen before. They seem to be skin-clad savages with black hair. There are quite a lot of them. One is running across the sands and others are[Pg 58] rushing after him; they have weapons in their hands and he is fleeing in deadly terror. Ah, he has run into the wood—now they've all disappeared!"

Was the last scene in that prehistoric man's life being re-enacted before the clairvoyant's gaze? Had he contravened his fellows' unknown laws and so been hunted to his death?

After a little the seer continued: "I see the bay again, but it's a little different, more sand and fewer trees. Some men in present-day dress are standing by a hole in the ground. They——" and a description was given of the people who had been present at the opening of the kist. "I think the hole is a grave, though it seems too short to be that" (the kist being a "crouched" burial was, of course, much shorter than an ordinary grave), "at any rate there are bones in it."

Of the gold ornaments found in Cornwall the most remarkable are the two torques found near Harlyn; bronze fibulæ have also been found here, but a good many of these finds are now in the Truro Museum. Harlyn, in spite of the grisly nature of its chief attraction, is an incomparable bay of wide firm sand, rock pools, and low safe cliffs. As it is sheltered by Trevose Head, the bathing is safe. A little way along the cliffs is a disused fish-cellar, over the door of which is the motto: "Lucri dulcis odor"—sweet is the smell of gold! But the fish have left these shores and the big black boats—boats that are oddly reminiscent of the Viking's ships at Christiania—lie rotting in the sun.

Trevose Head

Trevose Head (lighthouse), blunt and rounded, with an ear on each side of its broad head, is a somewhat eerie place. On its western slope is a large and sinister blow-hole, and much of the land seems to have slipped[Pg 59] a little and to be slipping more. It is here, by the rabbit burrows, that so many worked flint arrow-heads and fish spears have been found; while on its eastern side are caves inaccessible to the ordinary person, but if report says truly once of great use to the smuggler. The cliffs are of catacleuse, a dark and durable stone, of which on the cave side there are quarries.

Beyond Trevose Head, with its view from Cape Cornwall to Lundy Isle, the land curves inward past the rocky ridges and big rolling sand-dunes of Constantine. A shepherd's family is said to have held for many generations a cottage on Constantine under the lord of Harlyn Manor by the annual payment of a Cornish pie made of limpets, raisins, and sweet herbs. Food is cheap in Cornwall, but wages are correspondingly low. A farm pays its labourers—it calls them the cowman, the bullockman, and the horseman—from 13s. 6d. to 18s. a week, and with that, though conditions differ a little on different farms, they generally give a cottage, 100 ft. of potato ground, the run of a pig on the land, 100 battens of tamarisk wood—almost the only wood on this part of the coast—and, most prized of all, the right to let lodgings. On this the labourers sometimes manage to save. In one absolutely authentic instance, a couple, labourer and farm-servant, who married at twenty-one and eighteen, contrived to rear a healthy family of three and before they were forty to save enough to buy a piece of land, build a lodging-house, and go into business on their own account. "Never refused a day's work in my life," said the woman, "but we lived on what he brought home, and saved what I made." And what he brought home had been from thirteen to fifteen shillings a week. "Nor I never bought any tinned stuff," she said. "There's a deal of money goes that way, if the young women nowadays 'ud only believe it. Why,[Pg 60] a tin of pears, where's the nourishment in that, and think of the price. Nearly a shilling gone."

And that woman baked her own bread, did, not only her own "bit of washin'," but that of the one or two houses in the neighbourhood, went out charing and cleaning, and took lodgers! They were thrifty folk, never dreamed of buying a newspaper, and as a consequence had to save every scrap of letter-paper, grocery bags, and oddments in order to have the wherewithal to light the fire in the slab range. The pig was their great stand-by. His meat, frugally cut, distributed in pasties with a careful hand, lasted them the greater part of the year, and then there were the lodgers. The tourist is not over-welcome to the farmer on account of his carelessness with regard to gates. He lets the young stock in among the corn and passes on oblivious of the damage he has caused, but he is a godsend to the labourer's capable wife.


Constantine is another lovely and lonely bay. The jagged ridges of stone run out at either end of the wide arc, a deep blue in sunlight, black in cloudy weather, and between them lies a rainbow beach of shells. The owners of the property have set their faces against hotels, and on the stretch of sand-dunes are only the ruins of a one-time wrecker's cottage, and a small black hut. The man who gave his name to the place was supposed to be a descendant of King Lear (here spelt Llyr), who was converted in his old age by the Padstow saint, Petrock. The sand which destroyed his oratory is also said to have destroyed a populous village, but seeing the desolation on every hand, this is a little difficult to believe. At any rate the neighbouring churches seem to have benefited by the saint's misfortune, for St. Merryn as well as Little Petherick gathered up any[Pg 61] trifles she thought might come in useful, and the beautiful font at the former church is said to have been taken from her. One thing only was left to

"that ruined church
Whose threshold is the sacrificial stone
Of a forgotten people!"

Under the archway of the western door, a heavy-rounded lump, lies the old stone. It was probably a source of pride to Constantine ap Llyr. He had taken from the heathen their greatest treasure, their sacrificial stone, which had been brought from a distance, for there is no stone of that nature in the neighbourhood, and he had set it in his threshold where it should be trodden underfoot of men. And now the old church and the yet older stone lie alike forgotten, and there is peace.

On Constantine Island—again only so-called—a little, very ancient house was discovered some years ago. The walls were of slabs of stone and the greatest height of the interior was 7 ft. From the discovery of two hearth-stones, one inside and one on the outside of the building, it was thought that the place was only used as a dwelling in bad or cold weather, and that otherwise its prehistoric owner kept it as a storehouse. Unfortunately the little ruin has been removed piecemeal by the hungry visitor.

A Fogou

Not only are there many caverns along this coast, but several fogous or artificial caves have been discovered. These fogous may have been used for smuggling or as hiding-places in time of war, but the fact that some are obviously connected with old cliff castles and strongholds, points to a greater antiquity; in fact, they may have been prehistoric storehouses. In a secluded valley,[Pg 62] near Porthcothan, a little further along this coast, is an interesting example. The cavern is 36 ft. long and about 6 ft. high, the breadth being about 5 ft. The sides are lined with rough stones, simply piled up, and the roof consists of stone slabs. From this chamber a passage leads to another similarly constructed. It is said to have been much longer, in fact over 1000 yards, one gallery leading to Trevethan, whence another opened on to the beach at Porthmear.


To the south of Park Head, a fine cliff on which are several tumuli, is the Church of St. Eval, the tower of which was so useful a landmark that when it grew ruinous in 1727, some Bristol merchant subscribed towards the rebuilding. It is near Bedruthan Steps, where a fine shore is strewn with detached rocks and islands. One of the former is named "Queen Bess," from a fancied resemblance, ruff, farthingale and all, to the royal spinster; another "The Good Samaritan," because a vessel of that name was wrecked there. This vessel had been an East Indiaman laden with the silks and spices of a warmer clime, and a good deal of the cargo was saved, so much indeed that nowadays when a lass finds her finery growing the worse for wear, she says, "It is time for a Good Samaritan to come."

On the cliff above Redruthan Sands is an ancient earthwork known as Red Cliff Castle, which is supposed to have been British. It would be interesting to learn whether it is in any way connected with the numerous great caves which honeycomb its rock foundation. So far, however, no fogou has been discovered here.

Vale of Lanherne

From Mawgan Porth, the far-famed Vale of Lanherne lies inland some two miles or so, a contrast to the rough[Pg 63] wild coast and its splintered rocks. Beyond the church and nunnery, in their peaceful setting of small-leaved Cornish elms, among the branches of which the rooks build above the little rippling stream, are the lovely woods of Carnanton. It used to be said that amid all the religious communities represented in Cornwall long ago, there was never a nunnery, but this is no longer the case. In the reign of Henry VII. an Arundell of Lanherne purchased Wardour Castle, in Wiltshire, and when his younger son Thomas, married a sister of Queen Catherine Howard, the old man settled on him the Wardour house and estate. In course of time the elder branch came to be represented by a daughter only, and she marrying her cousin of Wardour the estates were re-united. In 1794 Henry, eighth Lord Arundell of Wardour, gave the old home of his race—it had been in the family since 1231—to some English Theresian nuns, who had fled from Paris in fear of what was to come. The present house is not very old, though a part of it dates from 1580, which part contains a secret chamber, wherein a priest once lay concealed for some sixteen months. It is said that the silver sanctuary lamp in the convent chapel has burnt continuously and that the Roman Catholic services have been held without intermission since pre-Reformation days. A picture supposed to be by Rubens, "The Scourging of our Blessed Lord at the Pillar," is shown, also other reputed old masters. Adjoining the house is a little garden, used as a cemetery, in which three priests and several nuns have been buried, and which contains a tenth-century four-holed cross of Pentewan stone, the shaft of which is covered with interlaced work.

Mawgan Church, which is close to the nunnery, is remarkably rich in brasses, many of which are now attached to the old screen through the shameful ignorance of a late rector. There were here formerly some interesting[Pg 64] palimpsest brasses of foreign workmanship, but large portions of these have been removed by the Arundells—whom they concerned—to Wardour Castle. On the south side of the churchyard is one of those pathetic memorials only too common along this coast. The white painted stern of a boat lies close to the convent wall, and on it is inscribed: "Here lie the bodies of ... who were drifted on shore in a boat, frozen to death, at Beacon Cove, in this parish, on Sunday, the 13th day of December, MDCCCXLVI." A beautiful Gothic cross of fifteenth-century work stands at the west end of the church. It is the most elaborate example of a lanthorn cross in Cornwall and contrasts well with the restored granite cross, dating from the earliest period of such monuments, which is to be seen in the additional churchyard.[Pg 65]



[Pg 66]

Hurling and St. Columb Major: Colan: The Gratitude of the Stuarts: Trevalgue: A Good Centre for Crantoch, St. Cubert, and Trerice: St. Agnes and the Giant: Portreath: the Bassets: Godrevy: Gwithian: The Pilchards.

[Pg 67]

Hurling and St. Columb Major

At the head of the lovely Vale of Lanherne is a district which has long been the centre for the old game of "hurling," and although football has largely taken its place, it is still sometimes played on Shrove Tuesday. The ball is smaller than that used for cricket, is light to handle, and has a coating of silver. The one now in use is inscribed with this couplet:

"St. Columb Major and Minor do your best,
In one of your parishes I must rest."

During the short reign of Edward VI. the ferment against the reformation doctrines came to a head in Cornwall. The people rose under Humfrey Arundel and marched to Exeter, only however to meet with a crushing defeat. Four thousand were slain, and their leaders taken and hanged at Tyburn. Martial law was then proclaimed, and Sir Anthony Kingston, Provost Marshal, was sent down into Cornwall. Among other stories told of him is that of his expeditious visit to St. Columb. Arrived at the little market town he promptly seized "Master Mayow" and directed that he should be hanged as a rebel. "Mistress Mayow, intending to plead for her husband's life, spent so long a time in prinking herself that by the time she reached the presence of the judge, her husband was dead."

In the neighbourhood of St. Columb are nine menhirs in a line, called the Nine Maidens, or in Cornish "Naw Voz"; also Castle-an-Dinas, a large triple entrenchment on a high tableland enclosing six acres of ground and two tumuli. Hither came the Royalist leaders in 1646 to discuss the question of surrender, and here King Arthur is supposed to have stayed when on pleasure bent. The[Pg 68] waste land around is known as Goss Moors, and there he hunted not only the red deer but the wolf.

"The Green Book of St. Columb" is one of the historical treasures of the county. It is so called from the colour of its leather binding, and is a book of parish accounts dating from the reign of Elizabeth.[2] Curious to relate, the rectory-house is surrounded by a moat. The church, which is very large for Cornwall, contains some good brasses and bench-ends, the brass of Sir John Arundell and his two wives (1545) being probably the finest example in the county. This church has had hard usage. In 1676 a barrel of gunpowder which lay in the rood-loft was fired by some mischievous boys. Three of them were killed, and a great deal of other damage was done. Some few years later the tower was struck by lightning, and the people, made wiser by misfortune, were careful to erect a less lofty one, which, however, was itself struck a few years since.


Halfway between the two St. Columbs is the little church of Colan, which contains the interesting brass of ffrancis Bluet, 1572, and Elizabeth, his wife, with effigies of both and of their thirteen sons and nine daughters. Below it is a smaller brass containing these words:

"Behold thyselfe

by us; Suche one

Were we as thow:

And thou in tyme

Shalt be: even doust

As we are nowe."

[Pg 69]

The Gratitude of the Stuarts

Lady Nance's Well was once the resort of pilgrims, who threw crosses of wood into the water. If they swam all would go well during the ensuing year, but, alas, if they should sink! Another well and the remains of its covering building are to be seen at Rialton, a priory which once possessed extensive rights, but of which only the ruined buildings remain. They lie in a beautiful valley east of the village of St. Columb Minor. At this latter the communion plate, which was presented by Francis, second Earl of Godolphin, and bears his arms, is massive, the flagon holding nearly a gallon! By the west door is a large painting of the royal arms, presented by Charles II. to the parish, as marking his sense of their loyalty to his father, and it might be as well to give here the letter of thanks written by Charles I. to his loyal county of Cornwall and still to be seen painted on wood in so many of the churches. It was written immediately after the fall of Exeter.

"C. R. To the inhabitants of the Co. of Cornwall.

"We are so highly sensible of the merit of our county of Cornwall, of their zeal for the defence of our person and the just rights of our crown, in a time when we could contribute so little to our own defence or to their assistance, in a time when not only no reward appeared, but great and probable dangers were threatened to obedience and loyalty; of their great and eminent courage and patience in their indefatigable prosecution of their great work against so potent an enemy, backed with so strong, rich, and populous cities, and so plentifully furnished and supplied with men, arms, money, ammunition, and provision of all kinds; and of the[Pg 70] wonderful success with which it pleased Almighty God, though with the loss of some most eminent persons—who shall never be forgotten by us—to reward their loyalty and patience by many strange victories over their and our enemies in despite of all human probability and all imaginable disadvantages; that as we cannot be forgetful of so great desert so we cannot but desire to publish it to all the world and perpetuate to all time the memory of their merits and of our acceptance of the same; and to that end we do hereby render our royal thanks to that our county in the most public and lasting manner we can devise, commanding copies hereof to be printed and published, and one of them to be read in every church and chapel therein, and to be kept for ever as a record in the same; that as long as the history of these times and of this nation shall continue, the memory of how much that county hath merited from us and our crown may be derived with it to posterity.

"Given at our camp at Sudeley Castle, 10th of Sep., 1643."

Poor king! a pathetic letter, voicing only too plainly his expectation of disaster and the surprise which the successes of his reckless gallant Cornish subjects had caused him.


Beyond St. Columb Porth lies the island known as Trevalgue. On the land side this has six lines of entrenchment and about and upon it, as at Trevose, lie a quantity of flint chips. These chips are mostly worked. Here also are a large blow-hole and several interesting caverns. At Glendorgal, further along the cliff, a barrow was opened some years ago and found to contain a remarkable burial urn with two handles and on it a[Pg 71] rough chevron pattern. The two barrows on the summit of Trevalgue were opened in 1842. They proved to contain a very ancient interment. The country people declare them to be the graves of two kings who fought all day long on the headland until at last each killed the other, and was buried where he fell.

"Burn me in my armour, all that is mine, and pile for me a cairn on the shore of the grey sea, the memorial of a luckless man, that men unborn may enquire concerning me."—Beowulf.

A Good Centre for Crantock, St. Cubert, and Trerice

Newquay, which is like the definition of a line—length without breadth—is hardly either a nook or a corner. It is marvellously well situated and consists mainly of large hotels. To stand on its beach, looking outward along the hazy cliffs and over the sparkling water, makes you feel as if you could forgive anything but the proximity of man and his immediate works. However Newquay, like Bude and Tintagel, is an excellent centre from which to go out and survey the land.

Legend says—what doesn't legend say?—that Crantock was once a seaport with seven churches, and "that the place was drowned in a deluge of sand, brought upon the wings of the wind." That wind has certainly blocked up the Gannel and put an end to any trade it may once have had. This Gannel is a tidal river flowing through a gorge in the hills, and it can be crossed at low tide by a plank bridge, while horse vehicles splash through the ford. It is, however, a dangerous place, for the tide flows swiftly and strongly, and lives have been lost through attempting the crossing a little late. The place is said to be haunted by a disembodied spirit, locally known as the "crake," the hoarse shriek of which[Pg 72] acts as a warning; and it is certain that no countryman who fancied he had heard it would persist in an attempt to cross—although it is five good miles round by Trevemper!

Crantock was a college with a dean and canons at least as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, the buildings having stood in what is now a walled garden, easily recognised by the old ship's figurehead which serves as a lintel to its gateway. The collegiate church which stands on a green slope looking towards the sea is one of the most interesting in Cornwall. There are several remains of Norman work, as for instance the inner doorway of the porch and part of the central tower arch and piers. In the church are preserved several pieces of carved alabaster, the intention of which is not known, and in the graveyard lies a large stone coffin. The vicar brought himself into notice some time since by objecting to the presence in his church of women who were not wearing hats. Courage is a fine thing, but it is generally understood that the difficulty nowadays is not to discourage people from attending service, but to get them to come.

It is not generally known that when the Black Death more—much more—than decimated Bodmin, the bodies were carried to Crantock and buried in a field on the north coast. Hundreds of years have passed, but the surface of this piece of ground is still uneven, and the people believe that if any one disturbs the earth the disease will break out again. So antiquarians—in search of the lost city of Langarrow—beware! The well of St. Carantocus is in the centre of the village, beneath a rough covering of stone; but it cannot compare either for beauty or renown with another well a mile or two distant. Under the high and rugged cliffs of Holywell Bay is a spring of fresh water, approached by a flight[Pg 73] of fifteen worn steps that have been cut in the rock. Only accessible at low tide, it is in a beautiful cave of many strange sea tints, and the water drips from one lovely basin to another. In other days mothers brought their deformed or sickly children to be dipped in the wonder-working well—which, however, is now known to be of no medicinal value.

Between Kelsey Head and Penhale Point lies a wild region of blown sand. Inland are many deserted mines, the ruins of these "knacked bals" giving the strange countryside a deserted and desolate appearance, so that the tapering spire of Cubert Church, which forms a useful landmark, is welcome. Beyond this is more sand, the wide and dreary waste of Perranzabuloe (St. Piran in the Sands). The early oratory of this saint was buried by the blown sands, and so long lost that only the tradition of it remained. Early in the last century, however, the winds uncovered it again, and when the oratory was cleared from sand, the headless skeleton of a big man was discovered beneath the altar. Now St. Piran was the patron saint of tinners, and it was known that in 1281 the church had possessed a box in which his head was kept and a hearse on which his body was carried in procession; indeed, the commissary of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter reported in 1331 that "the parishioners continue as before to carry the relics of St. Piran in an unwarrantable manner to various and even distant places," and as late as 1433 Sir John Arundell bequeathed ten shillings "for enclosing the saint's head honourably." If these matters are so, the skeleton discovered cannot have been that of St. Piran, for the oratory was said to have been buried in the sand about 900 a.d., and, as we have seen, the relics were being carried about by the parishioners as late as 1281.

The oratory, like that of St. Constantine, is concealed[Pg 74] among the sandhills, and by no means easy to find. At the edge of the dunes is a heath upon which, north of St. Piran's Well, is the Round, a turfed amphitheatre. This ancient open-air theatre has a rampart about 10 ft. high, rising in seven steps, of which traces remain. The area will hold about two thousand spectators, and in the middle ages miracle plays were doubtless performed here. These plan-an-guare, or playing-places, were probably constructed in very early times for games or contests after the manner of the Romans, and seem to have been in use for the performance of sacred dramas up to the fifteenth century or even later. At Perran a ditch formerly ran across the floor, and it has been suggested that this was for boats, &c., used in scenic effects, but it may have had other, possibly grimmer, uses.

Some three and a half miles south-east of Newquay is Trerice, another home of the Arundells. They were truly a fighting race. John Arundell of Trerice raised a body of troops during the wars of the Roses and fought on the Lancastrian side, and a later John, nicknamed "John for the King" and "Game to the Toes," fought with his four sons for Charles I., and in his old age held Pendennis Castle after all the other forts in Cornwall had surrendered.

His ancient manor house came—as did most of the Arundell estates, for they wedded cannily—by marriage. It was built in 1572 on the site of an older house, the very solid masonry of which has been found under the soil. Unfortunately the Arundells, ennobled after the Restoration as Lord Arundell of Trerice, died out with the "Wicked Lord" in 1773.

A minstrel's gallery extends the whole length of the hall, and a window there has no less than 576 panes of glass. In another room is a table of black oak, the top[Pg 75] of which is made of a single plank, which table is said to have been in the house three hundred years. But the glory of Trerice has departed. Old Sir John lies buried at Cuby, and the countrypeople talk of the last bearer of the name with bated breath. The north wing of the house was pulled down after his death and all his personal possessions burnt—but still the place remains untenanted.

St. Agnes and the Giant

At Perranporth the bewildering similarity of the dunes is broken for the moment by cliff and cavern scenery. The little village lies high, and some arched rocks are to be seen at low tide. Two miles to the west is Cligga Head, a fine bluff rock, but though St. Agnes Beacon, a lofty hill covered with blocks of granite, rises to 620 ft., these cliffs cannot be compared for grandeur or majesty with those of the wilder north. The Beacon, on the summit of which are tumuli, appears in the stories of the Cornish giants, St. Agnes—or, as her proper name is, St. Ann—proving one too many for a tiresome monster with the absurd name of Bolster. She is said to have persuaded him to go in for a little spring blood-letting and to fill one mine-shaft. But the shaft communicated with the sea, so the accommodating giant bled to death. If this had happened where the Red River runs out by Gwithian, the reason for the legend would have been apparent, for that terrible little tin-stream sullies the blue waters of the bay for miles around; but there is no tin-stream by St. Agnes Beacon. Between Perranporth and the latter the cliff-walk is spoilt by the extensive enclosures of a modern dynamite factory. The house in which the painter Opie was born is on the way to St. Agnes. He was the son of a carpenter, but going to London soon attracted so much attention that he was[Pg 76] known as the "Cornish Wonder." Dying of overwork when forty-six—considering his age rather a curious name to give the disease—he was buried in St. Paul's.

After these few cliffs, the coast sinks again to meet the encroaching sand. A hundred and twenty years ago the Upton farmhouse was suddenly overwhelmed, the family, to escape suffocation, making their way out by the bedroom windows. A few years later, the sands shifted, showing the buried house, still standing as they had left it. These stretches of sand are now planted with a rush, the arundo arenaria, which binds it together, and in the course of time results in the growth of a short sweet turf.

Portreath and the Bassets

When the Spanish and French combined fleets threatened Plymouth in 1779, Francis Basset of Tehidy placed two batteries of guns at Portreath, in those days known as Basset's Cove. It has the reputation of being the most unsafe harbour on the coast; and, as it lies at the bottom of a valley, is reminiscent of Port Isaac; but its wooded hills are less steep and more charming.

A little inland is Tehidy House, the seat of the Bassets, a famous Cornish family. The house once had parks and plantations of far greater area than at present; they are said indeed to have reached to the foot of Carn Brea. During the Civil Wars many a humdrum family flowered into distinction. It was a chance to prove their mettle. After the battle of Bradock Down the Francis Basset of that date was knighted, and a little later we find him Sheriff of the county. His marriage was such another as that of his friend, Sir Beville Grenville, and after Essex' troops had surrendered to the King in 1644, he hurried to send his lady the gracious news. "I write this on the saddle. Every friend will pardon the illness[Pg 77] of it, and you chiefly, my perfect joy. The King and army march presently for Plymouth. Jesu give the King, it and all. The King, in the hearing of thousands, as soon as he saw me in the morning, cried to me, 'Dear Mr. Sheriff, I leave Cornwall to you safe and sound.'" Before the war Sir Francis had represented St. Ives in Parliament. In 1640 he presented the town with a silver wishing cup, on which was inscribed:

"If any discord 'twixt my friends arise
Within the borough of beloved Saint Ies
It is desired that this my cup of love
To every one a peacemaker may prove,
Then am I blessed to have given a legacie
So like my heart unto posteritie."

No doubt he saw that his borough was mainly Parliamentarian and that trouble was ahead, and took this sweet and pleasant manner of testifying the unalterable nature of his personal sentiments.

It is sad to think how many of the families that distinguished themselves during those wars are now only a memory.

"The four wheels of Charles' wain,
Grenville, Godolphin, Trevanion, Slanning slain."

But though Trerice is empty, Lanherne a nunnery, and Stowe but a farmhouse, there are Bassets still at Tehidy, and long may they continue.

The house contains some interesting pictures by the best of our English artists, and a service of plate made from the silver found in Dolcoath mine.


After Portreath are several fine cliffs ending in Navax Point, the further horn of which looks across the deep curve of St. Ives Bay. On an island just off the shore[Pg 78] is the white and black of Godrevy Lighthouse, first built in 1857. On the day Charles I. was beheaded a vessel containing his wardrobe and other furnishings was driven by a sudden squall on the Godrevy Rocks. Fifty-eight persons were drowned, only a man, a boy, and a dog reaching the little island.


The shore here is strewn with the iridescent purple shells of a small oyster, which lie gleaming like coloured pearls on the sand and weed. It has a charming view, the broad bay with the narrow horn of St. Ives running out on the south-west, and Carbis Bay—white houses and green woods—nestling on the hillside. Among the sands to the left is another half-buried, half-excavated oratory, and the little village of Gwithian. In 1676 a woman named Cheston Marchant is said to have died here at the age of 164. She is well known by tradition to the present inhabitants, who relate that in her extreme old age—and she was for many years bedridden—her teeth and hair were renewed; and that travellers who came to see her out of curiosity frequently took back with them a lock of her hair.

Pilchard Fishery

The little ugly town of Hayle lies some miles away across the towans—as the sandhills are called—and these same towans, with their soft sea breezes, firm turf, and excellent bathing, must presently, one would think, develop into the sort of watering-place agreeable to the mothers of little children. Hidden among its trees in a dip of the land lies Phillack with a badly restored church, and in the graveyard a good two-holed cross; but as this bay is famous for pilchard fishing the main interest lies towards the sea.

The largest catch of pilchards recorded is that of a[Pg 79] St. Ives seine. In 1868, at one "shot" this net took five thousand six hundred hogsheads, or over sixteen million fish!

The best account of the Hayle and St. Ives pilchard fishing is by Mr. H. D. Lowry in "Chambers' Journal," but it is too long to quote and only a resumé can be given.

As soon as the fish are expected the "huers" (from hue and cry) take up their position at the white house on Carrick-gladden. It is their business, looking down on the water from above, to watch for the characteristic reddish shadow that indicates the presence of fish. To the men in the boats this shadow is invisible, and when the cry of "Hëva" [found] re-echoes from the heights, they shoot the nets as directed from above. Nor are the directions only shouted. The huers hold, one in each hand, a big iron ring covered with a white cloth. This is sharply distinct "against the background of heather and sad-coloured grass." In olden days furze was used, and the white disks are therefore still spoken of as "the bushes." Very simple is the code of movements. To send the boats east, the disks are moved from west to east, and vice versa, while an emphatic downward movement gives the exciting order to "shoot the seine." And the size of those seines! It takes thirty-five men, each three or four yards behind his nearest fellow, to carry the whole length of the net.

When the fish are in and the order has been given to close the seine, the huers raise their speaking trumpets anew with a cry of "Bloucers!" This brings a number of fresh people on the scene, whose business it is to secure what the nets have captured. The warps, great ropes, fastened to the ends of the seine, are brought back and attached to windlasses, and by this means the net is slowly drawn in till, even at high tide, it would[Pg 80] still touch bottom and afford no way of escape to the imprisoned fish. Great black pilchard boats are dragged by four horses from their accustomed resting-place and towed out towards the seine. The fish are then dipped out by the basketful and tipped over into the boat, which, when filled, contains over thirty hogsheads—say one hundred thousand fish! When the boats come slowly in, laden with their molten silver, carts are backed down to the water and loaded. "Jousters," who retail the fresh fish through the country, buy their stock, the carts carry the fish to the cellars that they may be salted, and in an hour or two every street in every town for miles round will be resounding with the cry of "Fresh Pilcher, Pilcher, Pilcher!"

While on the subject of fish, it may be mentioned that the biggest edible crab caught off the coast of Cornwall weighed 13 lbs., and the largest conger 120 lbs. Is it possible they caught and weighed the sea-serpent by mistake?[Pg 81]



[Pg 82]

Gold in Cornwall: Knill's Monument: The Antiquities of the Extreme West: Cliff Castles: Fogous: Menhirs: Dolmens: Oratories: Superstitions: St. Ives: Wesley: Irving: A Ripe Old Age: The Mines: Sancreed and St. Buryan: Lighthouses: Whitesand Bay: The Land's End: Mousehole and Dolly Pentreath: Newlyn: Penzance.

[Pg 83]

From Hayle to Marazion on the south coast is four miles—the narrowest part of the peninsula—and a railway runs from sea to sea. With a deep curve, however, the road goes on to low-lying Lelant (the valley church), which is traditionally said to have once been a large village and port, but to have been reduced to its present inconspicuousness by the drifting of sand into the haven. Parts of the church are Norman, and over the south porch stands an eighteenth-century copper sundial, on the pierced gnomon bracket of which is a quaint representation of Time and Death, a skeleton bearing an hour glass and a dart.

Among other antiquities discovered here was a large colt having in it some small bars of gold the size of a straw. A farmer found it embedded in ashes, and lying about 2 ft. below the surface. Gold has often been found in Cornwall, but always in small quantities—usually in grains from the size of sand to that of a pea! The largest piece ever found was said to have weighed down eight guineas in the scale.

Knill's Monument

Not far from Lelant is Worwas Hill, on which a certain John Knill erected a mausoleum. By some mischance the gentleman was buried in London, but by his will he directed that every five years £5 was to be equally divided among ten girls, natives of the borough and daughters of seamen, fishermen, or tinners, each of them not exceeding ten years of age, who should between ten and twelve o'clock of the forenoon of a certain day, dance for a quarter of an hour at least on the ground adjoining his mausoleum and, after the dance, sing the 100th Psalm. Alas, for the vanity of human hopes! Every five years the little girls, gaily be-ribboned, dance in the presence of the local notabilities, while the one[Pg 84] thing that was to have given the ceremony weight and interest—the body of John Knill—is elsewhere.

The Antiquities of the Extreme West: Cliff Castles: Fogous: Menhirs

This narrow neck of land shuts off the small rounded end of the peninsula, a part that is peculiarly rich in prehistoric remains. It is as if the old forgotten peoples had been driven back and back, race after race pushing the one before it into the sea, but each, before it passed, leaving its footprint on the granite. On every headland are cliff castles—Cape Cornwall, Ballowal, Chûn—the most remarkable being that of Treryn Dinas, a stronghold with a triple vallum and fosse which can only be approached by a narrow ridge and which consists of a huge pile of rocks jutting from a turf-clad neck of land. In contrast with these are the subterranean passages and chambers (fogous) at Bolleit, Trewoofe, and Pendeen, the last-named said to be haunted on Christmas morning by a white-robed lady with the stem of a red rose between her lips. Above ground are a number of stone circles and solitary monoliths, from which, or from the cairns, comes the phrase "to raise a stone to his memory." The monoliths are known as the Pipers and the Blind Fiddler, the circles, as at Dawns Maen and Boscawen Un, as the Merry Maidens; and the legend with regard to them is always the same—that the Pipers played on a Sunday, and that the Maidens danced, their punishment approximating, in a more lasting form, to that of Lot's wife! Here, too, are the remains of ancient villages and beehive huts, and at one place—Chapel Euny—is a subterranean structure consisting of three long passages and a beehive hut, while at Bosporthennis is a specimen of the beehive hut so good that it is said to be the best in England. This district of heath and[Pg 85] lonely moorland is so sparsely inhabited that the little old ruins have been left as they were until the antiquarian came and dug, unearthing the poor treasures of a simple state of civilisation, the spindle-whorls, the bone needles, the flint spear and arrow heads, and the coarse black pottery. The coast scenery of this part is the finest to be seen for miles, and that not so much on account of the grandeur of the cliffs as of the tumbling seas, that roll in from the Atlantic; and days might be spent wandering over these high lands from castle to castle and from stone to stone, trying to discover the reason, whether sepulchral or religious, that the monoliths were set erect; to guess why those strange underground passages were dug and walled, and what practical need they served; and what was the meaning of the various earthworks and entrenchments. The people to whom they needed no explanation have vanished, leaving only riddles behind, riddles that not the wisest among us, not the most enlightened, not the youngest, is able to solve.

Dolmen: Oratories: Superstition

We do at least know that the dolmen was raised above a burial, in the one instance of Zennor above two. In the dolmen proper, the supporters of the great capstone are columns and not merely slabs enclosing the space. Dolmens are found not only in Cornwall, but along the west coast of Europe and the northern coast of Africa, also in Palestine, India, and Japan, and appear to be the work of a seafaring people. Their date is said to be 2000 b.c., the age when bronze was beginning to replace stone and when the Swiss lake villages were being built. Three of the early Christian Councils regarded them with suspicion and ordered their destruction on the[Pg 86] ground that they were objects of reverence to the Celtic Christians. At Lanyon, on Boswavas Moor, not far from the Mulfra Quoit, is a fine specimen. Unfortunately the great capstone, which was 18 ft. long and under which a man on horseback could ride, slipped from its supports in 1815. Lieutenant Goldsmith presently dislodged the Logan stone at Treryn, a mass of granite weighing sixty-five tons; and being obliged to replace it, the tackle he used was further utilised to replace the Lanyon capstone. To make this easier, however, the three uprights were cut down, and the cromlech now to be seen is by no means so imposing as in its prehistoric state. This seafaring folk, who left their tiny mark on the surface of the earth and then faded into obscurity, builded better than we with all our modern appliances!

It was unusual for the early Christians to order the destruction of monuments of this kind. As a rule they accepted and turned them to account. We have examples of this in the chapel at Porthcurnow, one of those very early buildings, formed of a double square, such as lie hidden among the shifting sands of Perran and Gwithian, and which was built on a spot already sacred as a place of burial; while on Chapel Carn Brea, which rises to a height of 660 ft., with Bartine at its shoulder still higher, is a cairn which held the bones of a Stone Age chieftain. Above them was a dolmen, and above that relics of British and Roman times, the whole being crowned by a Christian oratory!

It is hardly a matter for surprise if the people who dwell among these relics of the immemorial past still retain some of the superstitions of their forefathers, if their wells still have miraculous qualities and the crickstone a strange virtue. To them witches are as real as wreckers, and they cannot believe that the "little people"—once perhaps inhabiting those subterranean[Pg 87] passages and huts—are gone for certain, and for ever. Get on the right side of an old miner and he will tell you of the "nuggies," of their silver anvils and their parlours, of how he has heard their little picks at work, and of how he has hoped all his life to one day catch sight of a nuggy slipping into its parlour, when he will, of course, follow and "strike it rich."

The housewife, on persuasion, may be got to tell how when she (or her mother) went in the morning to fill the kibble at the well she saw the pisky stealing away over the dewy fields by the first grey glimmer of light. Possibly he had taken eggs from her hen-roost, or if she were a wise woman and had baked him a hearth cake and left with it a sup of milk, he had perhaps "redded up" the place for her. It would be a matter of give-and-take, but the people in the low grey houses, with their thick walls and stone-held thatch, would be able to more than guess which mound it was into which the piskies vanished and which were the fairy rings about which they danced at dusk or in the moonlight. So wild was the country and so much does one piece of granite look like another that there were hiding-places in plenty, nooks that at a later date would be used by the smugglers and other law-breaking gentry, corners behind which the small race could lurk when the larger, more dangerous humans came striding by. Over against these tales of the "little people" must be set the stories told by those little people themselves, the stories of the giants, of the bigger folk whose terrors they magnified a hundredfold that their babies might be thus persuaded to keep out of danger. And because after all there must have been intermarriage, the occasional courting of pisky and giant, both sets of stories have been handed down from one generation to another. The Cornish are not a booky folk, they have not produced a great literature,[Pg 88] and even nowadays they read little but their Bibles. Such a people would be likely to remember and treasure up the stories handed down from mother to child. They are, moreover, very social. In the loneliest parts there is seldom an evening when the labourers do not drop in at each other's cottages for a "crack," and every now and then the soft deep voices utter a word that has dropped out of the common talk, but which for them still has its right meaning, and the fathers tell over again the stories their fathers told to them. Some of the stories have come to the surface and are known to the "foreigner" (as every one born east of the Tamar is called). We have, for instance, that of the Zennor mermaid, which has taken such hold on local thought that it is even carved upon a bench-end in the little grey church. It was the story of a squire's son who sang in the choir and sang so beautifully that Sunday by Sunday a mermaid (Cornish—merrymaid) crept up from the sea to hear him. Like Hans Andersen's story she had found her prince, but unlike that story she in the end persuaded him to go away with her; and as he never returned, the wiseacres shook their heads and thought of him as lying drowned under the blue waters.

The antiquities of this, the extreme west, and the resulting strange traditions and beliefs are not the only matter of interest in this part of the world. Superimposed upon the survivals of a far-off time are those of the last thousand and odd years when Cornwall was struggling with the disabilities of its exposed position, when the Danes fell on the coasts burning and harrying, and corsairs carried off the poor fishermen and sold them as slaves. In 1635 a Turkish pirate ship was brought nolens volens into St. Ives Bay, and the peaceful folk, not immediately recognising her build, were surprised to hear sounds as of guns and firing. The firing was not at those on shore,[Pg 89] it was in fact entirely confined to those on board, and it was as if the ship were divided against herself. In the end the truth appeared. The pirate had captured three small vessels of Looe and Fowey and seized their crews. These men, however, were not of a slavish kind. Rising in a body, they knocked the captain overboard, drove the Turks below and set sail for St. Ives. Having a fair wind they made it safely; though the pirates, also a hearty folk, spent their time firing at them through the timbers of the deck.


We warrant those pirates had much the same reception at the hands of the St. Ives men as was dealt out to John Wesley when, in course of time, that small neat gentleman made his way into the district. The Cornish seem to have been—let us use the past tense—own brother to the Irishman in their love of a riot, any sort of a riot, for any reason or none; and Wesley got more than a taste of mob violence. Yet in the end he could say: "Here God has made all our enemies to be at peace with us, so that I might have preached in any part of the town. But I rather chose a meadow, that such as would might sit down, either on the grass or on the hedges—so the Cornish term their broad stone walls. Well-nigh all the town attended and with all possible seriousness. Surely forty years' labour has not been in vain."

So at last the little man was made welcome and could feel that he had roused the fishing-town from its long religious lethargy. I wonder whether in his strenuous life, and he came twenty-seven times to St. Ives, he ever found time to wander into the old church, study the wonderful carving of its bench-ends, and take pleasure in its ancient communion plate "and[Pg 90] its pair of collecting basins with handles," or whether he was only occupied with things of the spirit?


Inland from St. Ives lies the ugly mining village of Halsetown, where Sir Henry Irving spent the years of his childhood. His mother was a Cornish woman of the Behenna family, and to Halsetown she brought him to stay with an aunt. The uncle was captain of a local mine—"captain" meaning any sort of an overseer from the manager to a man with only a boy under him! Here the lad ran wild with his cousins. "At any rate," said he in after years, "Halsetown gave me a good physical start in life. I attribute much of my endurance of fatigue—which is a necessary part of an actor's life—to the free and open and healthy years I spent there." Nor are these many hours of sunshine and the salubrious air only good for youth; life lengthens here unnoticeably until it has reached three figures, and even then shows a strength that is amazing. Mrs. Zenobia Stevens, who was buried at Zennor in 1763, aged 102, was tenant for ninety-nine years of the Duke of Bolton. On the expiration of her lease, being then in her hundredth year, she went on this matter of business to the Duke's Court at St. Ives; and it is said that she excused herself from accepting a second glass of wine on the plea that it was growing late and she had not only some way to go, but had to ride home on a young unbroken horse.

The Mines

Among these rough cliffs are sudden smiling valleys, but the moors are disfigured by a number of mine workings that have ceased to pay, and the ruins of which add to the desolation of the scene. A little above[Pg 91] St. Just are three celebrated mines: Wheal Owles, into which the sea broke and which is now only the tomb of the eighteen men who were then working in her; Botallack, visited by King Edward and Queen Alexandra in 1865, while Prince and Princess of Wales, but no longer working; and Levant, exploited for tin, copper, and arsenic, and still employing several hundred men. The workings of this mine run for nearly a mile under the sea, and the men say that on stormy days the noise over their heads is terrific. These men live at St. Just, a mining town in the old church of which are some frescoes—St. George about to slay the dragon before Cleodolinda and her comrades, and Christ surrounded by the symbols of various trades. Of greater interest perhaps is the Plan-an-Guare, 126 ft. in diameter and with the remains of six tiers of seats. This rural amphitheatre is still sometimes used as a place of assembly and was once no doubt utilised for miracle plays, but who constructed it and for what purpose is lost in the mists of antiquity. Not far from the Plan-an-Guare is Kenidjack Cliff (the howling wind), a "hooting cairn" regarded by the superstitious country side as haunted by more than natural sounds. During the construction on it of butts for rifle practice, some twenty to thirty pieces of pure copper were found under stones which were probably the remains of an old building. The purity of the copper points to this hoard having been the property of a founder of tools or weapons belonging to the Bronze Age, and no doubt this founder was a workman of some importance in the district. The story connected with him has been forgotten, the fact that he ever existed has passed, but about the place still clings that old fear of the weapon-maker, whose every-day task it was to forge the mysterious givers of death.[Pg 92]


It is a far journey from a "hooting cairn" to the pettiness of the social struggle, even though the struggle was for a precedence which has passed out of fashion. In Bishop Sparrow's report of July 1671, on Sancreed Church, a curious state of affairs came to light, for the parish was quarrelling over precedence in church sittings! "One John Adams of mean estate and fortune" had actually seated himself higher up than "those who are of the Twelve of the parish and their wives," and great had been the scandal. Also one Francis Lanyon, who had married "into a very worthy family," his wife, if you please, being niece to Colonel Godolphin, was without "a convenient seat." Sancreed has an old rood screen (or rather part of one), of which Sedding says: "I know of no finer specimen elsewhere in the county. Like so much old Cornish work it is more than local; it is purely parochial."

Its neighbour, St. Buryan, is also celebrated for its screen, which was, however, seriously injured by the vicar in 1814. From what remains, it would appear to have been exceptionally beautiful, carved, coloured, gilt, and of opulent and bold workmanship. This church stands high, 400 ft. above the sea; and about a mile distant are the remains of what is believed to be the oratory of St. Buryan. The story goes that first Egbert in 813 fought a battle here at Bolleit (place of blood) and later Athelstane in 926. There is no historical evidence for either battle, but tradition is a smoke under which a little flame may generally be found. At any rate, a battle was fought and the conqueror, standing on this high land, saw afar off the Scillies, and realised that there were yet worlds to conquer. So pleased was he, that he vowed, if successful, to found a college for priests[Pg 93] on this high land, and so the church of St. Buryan came into being.

Lighthouses and Whitesand Bay

A mile and a half off the Land's End is the Longships Lighthouse. Built on a rock 70 ft. above low water and itself 55 ft. high, its top is yet often buried in the spray and the lanthorn broken. Further out, on the Wolf Rock, is another lighthouse; while off the Seven Stones, dangerous rocks between the mainland and the Scillies, is a lightship moored in forty fathoms of water, but in such an exposed position that it has before now been driven from its moorings.

But there were neither lighthouses nor lightships on these rocks when Athelstane landed at Whitesand Bay on his return from the conquered Scillies. Even now it is an ugly bit of water to traverse, and it must have been worse then. He was probably glad enough to see the great stretch of white sand with Sennen Cove lying in the midst thereof like an emerald set in silver. Later the bay acquired a bad reputation. So far from the madding crowd, so secret and so storm-beaten, it gave evil-doers a sense of security. Who would dare to venture after them among these rocks and clefts? Corsairs, pirates, smugglers, each in turn made use of the white beach. Thither came Perkin Warbeck in 1497 with his four little barques and six score men; thither John Lackland when seeking to dispossess his trusting brother of the realm; thither Stephen, the oath-breaker, who was, however, none so bad a king. Rough are the winds and rougher still the seas that beat upon this lovely bay, and it is a little puzzling why these and other personages should have chosen it as a landing-place.[Pg 94]

The Land's End

Alas for romance, this same Land's End is but a low and unimpressive rock which, like the blunt head of some titanic animal, thrusts a grey muzzle into the water. It is only 60 ft. high, yet this is the last stone, the last bit of land, the ultimate west, this west that appeals so strongly to the Cornishman abroad:

"There's never a wave upon western beaches
Falls and fades to a wreath of foam
But takes at the last a voice that reaches
Over the distance and calls me home."


The Land's End, strange low headland, has seen plenty of stirring days, from the time when the Danish long-ships came creeping round to harry Cornwall and Devon, to that later date when the great storm and the descendants—probably—of those very Danes sent the great Armada fleeing up the narrow seas. Turner came here for the colour and the wild blue seas, and Tennyson to wonder whether his Arthur had ever been so far south. The rock is of split and tumbled granite, one of the few instances in the duchy where that stone comes into contact with the sea; and if Penwith, as all that part is called, really means the "wooded headland," that barren rock and rough water must once have been far enough apart. A little south of the Land's End is the finer rock of Pordenack, and all round this southern point the bays and coves are charming, the cliffs fine and the caverns and rocks numerous and fantastic. Tol-Pedn (the holed headland—so called from a huge blow-hole) has its Witches' (or Maggy Figgy's) Chair and shelters the pretty hamlet of Porthgwarra, the inhabitants of which are darker than the majority of Cornishmen. Tradition[Pg 95] is in favour of a wrecked Spanish galleon. Not, we suppose, the spectre ship of Porthcurnow, a neighbouring cove. There a black square-rigged vessel sails up the beach and up the combe, making no difference between land and water, and presently vanishes like mist—and that in the valley the Eastern Telegraph Company has made its own! The hamlet is interesting on account of its name. That distinguished scholar, Canon Isaac Taylor, says: "Cornwall, or Cornwales, is the kingdom of the Welsh of the Horn," but others think the name is from the Kernyw, the tribe who lived in these parts, they being called the Kernyw Gaels, to distinguish them from the Gaels of Wales and those of Brittany. Be it as it may, in Porthcurnow we have an interesting survival of the old tribal name.

The church of St. Levan is on the hillside in a deep valley and beyond its admirable carving, its screen with a geometrical pattern of leaves, its font of a stone not found in the neighbourhood, and its unusual holy water stoup—at the north and east entrances to the church are the old lych stones used as resting-places for funerals! There is also a cleft boulder of granite about which it was prophesied that when a pack-horse should ride through "St. Levan's stone" the world would come to an end, and the fact that such handy material for building has been left unused shows that for some reason it must have been held in veneration.

Mousehole and Dolly Pentreath

Mousehole is said to have been the last place at which Cornish was spoken, and this has resulted in the legend of Dolly Pentreath. She was a fishwife who, in course of time, came on the parish; and it was believed, not[Pg 96] only that she lived to a great age, but that she was the last person to speak the ancient language. Against this, the facts must be set forth. Dorothy Pentreath is given in the parish register as born 1714 and died 1777; while Wm. Matthews, who also spoke Cornish—speaking it with his cronies—and lived at Newlyn, did not die till 1800. In spite of this, however, two credulous persons—Prince Lucien Buonaparte and the Vicar of Paul—raised a stone to her memory in 1860, and referred in particular to the old age which was not hers and the language which she certainly spoke, but was not the last to speak.

"Here lieth interred Dorothy Pentreath, who died 1778, said to have been the last person who conversed in the ancient Cornish.

"Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land."

But if Mousehole has no right to its legend, its own age cannot be called into question. In 1347 it was recognised as a Cornish port, while in the time of Henry VII. a lay subsidy roll shows its inhabitants to have been nearly equal in number to those of Penzance.

Moreover, it has had its vicissitudes. An ancient prophecy had declared:

"They shall land on the rock of Merlin
Who shall burn Paul, Penzance, and Newlyn."

and, as a matter of fact, one July morning in 1595 four Spanish galleys carrying two hundred men crept up under cover of a fog and, landing them on a rock that bore the name of Merlin, proceeded to verify the prediction. The Spaniards must have been surprised at the lack of opposition with which they met, for though Sir Francis Godolphin—called "the great housekeeper" from his hospitality—did his utmost to rouse the people,[Pg 97] the fact that the ancient prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes had a paralysing effect. So much so that the towns mentioned in the prediction were duly and effectually burnt before a sufficient posse could be raised to drive the Spaniards back to their galleys. Yet we have it on Bacon's authority that the Cornish were no cowards: "These Cornish are a race of men stout of stomach, mighty of body and limb, and that live hardily in a barren country; and many of them of a need could live underground, which were tinners." Nevertheless the Spaniards did their work so thoroughly that the Keigwin Arms, at that date a manor-house, was the only building left standing. This house is interesting as a specimen of Tudor architecture, the walls being several feet thick, while the timbers were said to have been grown in the forest, now submerged, that gave St. Michael's Mount its old name of "the hoar rock in the wood." This tradition suggests a greater antiquity for the house than that of Elizabeth's reign, or that it was built on the site of some older building.


Mousehole, like Newlyn, has a fine fishing-fleet, but even when these picturesque boats are out of sight, there is a flavour in the air, a soupçon, a je ne sais quoi! A blind man indeed might be expected to know how the little ancient town contrives to pay its way! The artists of Newlyn seem to have risen superior to such a trifle. To the painter, of course, beauty is only of the eye and, after all, the smell of oil paints——

It is wonderful how attractive Cornwall seems to artists of both pen and brush. No village so poor, none so utterly desolate, but it can point to its artist and its cross. Not, of course, that there is any connection between artists and crosses. The broad outlook of the[Pg 98] former may have been something of a trial, but it has come to be looked on as of no importance, just a bit of harmless eccentricity.


Not far from Newlyn is a place that was once a chapel-of-ease to Madron and had no church of its own. It was represented to the authorities, however, that if the people went daily to their parish church at Madron—daily, mark you—the town would be in peril of burning "by the French and other enemies in time of war." Naturally the church was built. That good, that punctilious, that saintly town where all the inhabitants went every day to church is none other than—Penzance. And except that it is a good centre, there is very little else to say about it.[Pg 99]



[Pg 100]

The Land of Lyonesse: The Scillies: The Law of Wrecks: Mr. Smith: The Admiral's Honour: Ding Dong Mine: St. Michael's Mount: An Old Ceremony: China Clay: Wrecks: Germoe and Breage: Pengersick: Flora Day: The Loe Pool: Serpentine: Gunwalloe and Mullion: The Lizard: Bells: The Helford River: Mawgan: Roseland.

[Pg 101]

The Land of Lyonesse

If you ask the people they will tell you that without doubt the piece of water between the south of Cornwall and the Scillies was once dry land. If you ask the educated stranger he will hum and haw, and say it is probable, perhaps even likely, and will quote the Saxon Chronicle to the effect that "the sea broke in upon the land and swallowed up many towns and a countless multitude of people." As the old record gives no hint as to where this catastrophe happened, more than one writer has taken it to justify a belief in the Land of Lyonesse. Oh for a Passmore Edwards embued with curiosity rather than philanthropy, who should by dredging operations settle the vexed question for good and all!

The fishermen, looking down through the clear waters on a still day, declare they can make out the ruins of old churches and houses, and that their nets have brought them time and again articles of household economy, pieces of broken doors and roofs and windows. Moreover, when the great wave broke hungrily over the low-lying land a Trevelyan saw the curling breakers and setting spurs to his swift white horse was carried at a mad gallop to Perranuthno. The people show you the cave in which he and the trembling horse took refuge till the wild turmoil should have died down. With what a horrified curiosity the man who lived must have looked out of his cave, watching till the great wave should subside, watching for the reappearance of all those farms and villages that only that morning had been sunning themselves in the warm light. The forest, too, those acres of beech trees stretching out from Marazion and surrounding St. Michael's Mount, that "hoar rock in a wood," what had become of them? The stormy[Pg 102] autumn day must have closed down upon him, still looking, wondering, and hoping; but when once more the sun rose it was upon a wide stretch of waters, with the Scillies sparkling in the distance. Between them and the land was only sea—and a people overwhelmed and lost and soon to be forgotten, a people who but yesterday had gone about their daily tasks as unsuspecting as the rest! There was only Trevelyan left to say it was the "Judgment of Heaven," and he, poor soul, appears to have been too shaken, or too little of a priest, to do so.

The Scillies

It used to be said that when the Almighty made Ireland he had left a few handfuls of mud. He threw them into the sea and the result was the Scillies. The proof thereof is that, like Ireland, the Scillies have no snakes!

They may be only a few handfuls of stony mud, but they are lovely islands, though for those whom salt water makes queasy, a little difficult to reach. There is, in fact, a most depressing story told of a lady who was so ill during the four hours' passage from Penzance that when within sight of the islands but before she could be landed she actually died of heart failure.

The Scillies number about 145, twenty-four of which are cultivated, but only five inhabited—St. Mary's, Tresco, St. Martin's, St. Agnes, and Bryher; while Scilly, the islet which has given its name to the group, is an unimportant rock near Bryher.

On St. Agnes is the Well of St. Warna, a saint who protected her protégés from being wrecked and drowned. She has fallen into disrepute, however, owing to the whole population of her island having been wrecked and drowned on their way home from the neighbouring island, whither[Pg 103] they had been to church! What a shock to believers in St. Warna. If only it had been a case of bad boys bird's-nesting on the Sabbath or of merry maidens dancing to the music of the blind fiddler, or east coast men fishing on Sunday, but—respectable citizens on their way home from church!

The Law of Wrecks

Ocean currents run strong here. It has long been mistakenly supposed that the Gulf Stream affects the climate of Western Cornwall. Needless to say, the true Gulf Stream does not come within many miles of the duchy; instead, a surface current of warm water is carried north-eastward from hot latitudes, and the ameliorating effects on flowers and plants and vegetables are the same. This warm current does not, however, ameliorate the storms, and in spite of four lighthouses the wrecks are numerous. In 1707 four ships of the Navy were lost here and 2000 men. The islands once had a reputation not only for smuggling, but for wrecking, and for the kind of wrecking that gives no help "to those in peril on the sea," but rather the other way about. Not that the people were altogether to blame. The law of wrecks was largely responsible for the brutalities undoubtedly indulged in towards shipwrecked crews, for it stated definitely that wrecks should be the property of the governor of the isles only "if none of the crew remained alive."

In our gentle days it is hardly believable that the whole populace should have seen to it that a wreck had no survivors. Themselves at the mercy of the waters, one might have thought such constant peril would have bred a fellow-feeling, but the contrary seems to have been the case. In the Tresco Gardens is a terrace devoted entirely to the figure-heads of vessels that have been cast on these shores. Each sorry relic represents[Pg 104] its quota of human lives, and, remembering this, it is as if you were in some sort of concentrated graveyard where the bones of the poor dead are not even decently covered and concealed from sight.

Mr. Smith

But laws were presently amended, and then both wrecking and smuggling failed to yield a livelihood. When Mr. Augustus Smith leased the islands from the Duke of Leeds, the present representative of the Godolphins (Dolphin Town is named after them), the people were in a parlous condition. With no industries beyond fishing and kelp-gathering, their poverty had grown with their families. Mr. Smith, however, was a kindly autocrat. He settled among his people at Tresco Abbey, insisted on education, sent the girls to service on the mainland and the lads to sea, built new roads, and improved the quay. One further step was needed, and this was presently taken by Mr. Trevellick, of Rocky Hill, St. Mary's. Collecting a few bundles of the narcissi that bloomed abundantly about the cottages, he sent them to Covent Garden Market. Amazing to the man who had spent his days amid a profusion of such flowers was the return they brought. The news spread, and so did the cultivation of the blooms. From January to May every steamer now carries tons—as much sometimes as thirty—of flowers on their way to be sold, and that although many of the islands are treeless sandhills! As Mr. Salmon says, however: "The distance, the cost of carriage, and the competition of the untaxed foreigner are the difficulty. The trade has been hit very hard by foreign imports and by the crushing cost of freights. Vegetable cargoes cost less from the shores of the Mediterranean than they do from Scilly; the foreigner is given every advantage in his efforts to undersell[Pg 105] the Briton, and the Briton, though fighting at home, fights with one hand tied behind!"

The Admiral's Honour

The history of the Scillies is much what its exposed position would lead you to suppose. Olaf of Norway came marauding here, was converted, and is said to have founded Tresco Abbey—the authentic history of which, however, does not begin till later. Athelstane for the love of fighting presently descended on them; and when the fortunes of royalty were at a low ebb Charles, afterwards Charles II., sought refuge there, and lay in great straits not only for the comforts but even for the necessities of life. The Parliament, unable to let well alone, sent a fleet to surround the island where he lay, but a storm—"Judgment of Heaven," cried the Royalists with one voice—dispersed the ships. Thinking the islands an insecure as well as an uncomfortable refuge, however, the Prince left them at the first opportunity, setting sail for Jersey on his way to the greater hospitality of France. After that they became the prey of every strong man who fancied them; and so dangerous a nest of privateers did they become, that Dutch commerce suffered, and Admiral Van Tromp offered to help in their reduction. His offer, however, was not accepted, the English having learnt the danger of calling in foreign assistance. Admiral Blake was sent to teach the Scillies their duty towards Parliament, and in May 1651, Sir John Grenville—whom we last saw as Sir Beville's stripling son—obtaining freedom and retreat for himself and garrison, surrendered the islands. At first Parliament refused to recognise these favourable terms, but Blake was as fine a gentleman as Grenville himself, which is saying a great deal, and he declared that if not allowed to keep his word he[Pg 106] would not keep his office. So Grenville was free to depart, and went over seas to join his Prince and share in his poverty and wanderings.

The Scilly Isles are very lovely, perhaps the loveliest part of this lovely county. The climate is mild and equable, the constant breeze prevents too great a heat, while the rigours of winter, thanks to the warm sea-water, are unknown. Seabirds breed on the great rocks, the earth is of a marvellous fertility, and beyond, far below the horizon, the next land is that of another island—Newfoundland!

Mount's Bay

The sea has encroached within late years on the eastern shores of Mount's Bay, but the harbourage is good, and a fine fleet of fishing-vessels sails from here. There are echoes of unpleasantness with regard to Sunday fishing on the part of strangers. As the Newlyn man put it: "Sunday fishing is wicked, and what's more it spoils our market."

Ding Dong Mine

At the head of the bay is Gulval, near which lies the Ding Dong Mine, famous as the oldest in Cornwall, so old indeed that it has long since (1880) retired into private life. About seventy years since, a number of Roman and Alexandrian coins of the third and fourth centuries were found near this mine. It is quite possible that the Romans themselves worked Ding Dong and Ting Tang, and other of the old mines. A stone inscribed with the names of Constantine and his son is still preserved at St. Hilary: "Imperatore Cæsare Flavio Valerio Constantino Pio Cæsare nobilissimo divi Constantii Pii Augusti Filio." As Constantine the Great was Cæsar in 306 and became Augustus in 307, this inscription fixes the date of the[Pg 107] stone as belonging to the first of those years. When draining a piece of land between Penzance and Marazion, the workmen came upon about a thousand Roman coins of that date; indeed, under stones or buried in urns various large hoards of brass, copper, and lead money have been discovered by old tinworks, and every now and then fine gold and silver coins of Trajan, Nero, and the later emperors.

St. Michael's Mount (Cornish Dinsul)[3]

St. Michael's Mount, which is principally composed of granite, is 190 ft. high and about a mile round. It is said that the members of the St. Aubyn family, to whom it now belongs—having been sold to them by the Bassets—are not considered able to look after themselves in the water until they have swum completely round the Mount.[4]

However imposing the great rock looked when the waves from which it emerged wore the summer green of beech-leaves, it could not have had so great a dignity as now. Fortified from an early date, it soon fell into the hands of the Church, and was presently garrisoned by monks. But so fine a stronghold could not be held sacred to spiritual warfare, and in 1191 a party of soldiers disguised themselves as pilgrims and, so obtaining admission to the fortress, turned on their unarmed hosts and expelled them. From that date the place took part in any little war that might be convulsing the rest of the country, and even started—as in 1548—little wars and rebellions of its own. Henry VIII., who had a most fatherly care for his coast defences, erected batteries[Pg 108] here; and during the Civil Wars it belonged in turn to whichever party had the upper hand. Its history, indeed, is a continual change of owners, of fierce sieges, stratagems, plunderings, and hairbreadth escapes. Now it is an old grey rock, which after many vicissitudes has fallen asleep in the sun. The only very ancient part still in existence is the piece of Saxon walling pierced by the principal doorway, and the wonder is, not that there is so little, but that one stone should have been left upon another.

An Old Ceremony

In this part of the country the name Godolphin occurs over and over again. Tresco Abbey was granted to them at the Dissolution, but they lived principally at Godolphin House in Breage, and the old saying ran: "A Trelawny was never known to want courage, a Grenville loyalty, or a Godolphin wit."

The Tudor house to the north of Godolphin Hill (500 ft.) is now a farm. The panelled rooms, a hall, and some great windows are all that remain of the former mansion, but a ceremony, which originated in 1330, is still observed on Candlemas day. "Once a year for ever the reeve of the manor of Lamburn shall come to Godolphin, and there boldly enter the hall, jump upon the table, and stamp or bounce with his feet or club to alarm and give notice to the people of his approach, and then and there make proclamation aloud three times, 'Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! I am the reeve of the manor of Lamburn, in Perransand, come here to demand the old rent duties and customs, due to the lords from the said manor of Godolphin," upon which notice there was forthwith to be brought him 2s. 8d. in rent, a quart of beer, a loaf of wheaten bread, and a cheese worth 6d., "which the reeve having received he shall drink of the beer, taste[Pg 109] the bread and cheese in the place, and then depart, carrying with him the said rent and the remainder of the viands."

One of the two oldest crosses in Cornwall is in the churchyard at Godolphin. In the opinion of stone-masons it has been "bruised out," probably with wood, and not cut with a metal tool. It may indeed have come into existence before metal was used.

China Clay

Tregoning Hill, a little south of Godolphin, was the place where Wm. Cookworthy, a druggist, discovered in 1745 a clay from which porcelain could be made, and from which Plymouth china resulted. This first discovery of china clay has led to that great development of the industry, of which St. Austell is the centre.

Wrecks: Germoe and Breage

Before the lighthouse on the Wolf Rock was built (1871) this rocky coast was the scene of many a wreck. In 1873 the Vicar of Mullion wrote: "In six years and a quarter there have been nine wrecks, with a loss of sixty-nine lives, under Mullion Cliffs, on a bit of coast line not more than a mile and a half in length." It must be confessed that the inhabitants of Germoe and Breage had an unenviable reputation as wreckers:

"God keep us from rocks and shelving sands
And save us from Breage and Germoe men's hands."

But those days have passed away, though Germoe still has a reputation of a kind. It is said that once the men had good singing voices, but were so proud of them that the voices failed; while another distich shows the estimation in which they held themselves:[Pg 110]

"Camborne men are bulldogs,
Breage men are brags,
Three or four Germoe men
'Ull scat'um all to rags."

Local jealousies between neighbouring towns are by no means rare in Cornwall. For instance, there is the old enmity between Zennor and St. Ives. It is said that the fishermen belonging to the latter were greatly annoyed one season by the ravages of the hake among the mackerel. They therefore caught the largest they could, whipped him soundly, and restored him to the water—pour encourager les autres.

When a Zennor man wishes to be disagreeable to a native of St. Ives, therefore, he says: "Who whipped the hake?"

But Zennor, one might think, would have hesitated to throw stones, for it is locally known as the place where the cow ate the bellrope, the neighbourhood being so barren and rocky that the straw bellrope was the only provender the poor animal could find—which is suggestive of the Cornish vet. who sent in his bill "to curing your old cow till she died."


One more local story before we go on to Helston, and that because the retort is so neat and the lady, as usual, had the last word. Pengersick Castle is a ruin which, when habitable, was occupied by a man and his wife whose early regard had changed to hatred. Their children were grown up and married, and they had nothing to do but brood upon their mutual dislike, until one day it occurred to both that the world would be a brighter and better place if the other were out of it. No sooner said than done. That day at dinner the good man poured[Pg 111] his wife a glass of a rare vintage, and after she had drunken told her with satisfaction that he would now see the last of her—as the wine had been poisoned.

"The wine? Ah, yes, and the soup, too," quoth she, "and as you drank first, my love, the pleasure of seeing the last of you will be mine."

Flora Day

Helston, the little bright town built crossways on the side of a hill, is near the spring of the Kelford River and at the head of the Loe Pool. It had an exciting time in 1548, when the Cornish feeling against the new doctrine of the sacrament found vent in the murder, which took place inside the church, of Wm. Bray, the royal commissioner. In pursuance of his duty he was pulling down images and possibly treating what was sacred in the eyes of the people with only scant reverence. Be that as it may, Wm. Kiltor, a priest of St. Keverne, attacked and slew him, to the secret—not too secret either—joy of the people and the scandal of authority.

The eighth of May in Helston is Flora or Furry Day, and is possibly a relic of the old May Day saturnalia. The young people go (fadgy) into the country singing:

"Robin Hood and Little John,
They both are gone to the fair, O!
And we will away to the merry greenwood
And see what they do there, O!"

They return garlanded with flowers and dance through the houses and gardens of the town, singing the Furry Song. The dance follows a set formula, the procession going in at the front door and out at the back, and being supposed to bestow some sort of benefit upon the houses thus visited. The refrain of the song, to the numerous[Pg 112] verses of which topical allusions are often added, is as follows:

"God bless Aunt Mary Moses[5]
With all her power and might, O,
And send us peace in Merry England
Both by day and night, O."

Charles Kingsley was at the Helston Grammar School when the headmaster was Derwent Coleridge, son of the poet, and the second master was the Johns who wrote "A Week at the Lizard." It is unlikely the scholars were allowed to take part in the Furry Dance, but he may have watched it time and again, and given his schoolboy contribution.

The Loe Pool

This is a beautiful stretch of fresh water that winds like a river through the forked and wooded valley and widens as it comes within sight of the sea, from which, like the Swan Pool—a smaller lake on the other side of the promontory—it is separated by a bar of sand and shingle. Until recently the Mayor of Helston was wont to present two leathern purses containing three half-pence each to the lord of Penrose and ask leave to cut through the bar and release the surplus waters. The old cutting of the Loe Bar used to tinge the sea with yellow as far as the Scilly Isles. Now, however, the quantity of the water is regulated by sluices and the ceremony has fallen into disuse.


After the more exposed northern and western shores of Cornwall, the airs of the south are balmy. There is no fear, as the farmer put it, that "the bullocks will[Pg 113] be blown off the cliff pasture into the sea, the wheat off the land, and the turnips out of their sockets." In the Morrab Gardens at Penzance palms grow in the open, while in Falmouth strange spiky, spiney plants, whose home is in desert sands far south of Britain, are to be seen. But the Meneage (stone), as the Lizard district is called, though mild, is exhilarating, and on Goonhilly Downs the wind can be sufficiently keen. This district is of a peculiar geological structure, consisting of a moderately elevated tableland, deeply carved at the edges by valleys and richly wooded except at the southern extremity. The rocks are generally dark-coloured and of fine grain, and everywhere they are worn by the action of the water into fantastic and beautiful forms. They are well known all the world over as serpentine, and it gives the traveller a strange feeling to see the valuable rock being used as building material and even for the repair of roads. A considerable trade is done in polishing this stone, especially at the Lizard, and the very sands are dark with the detritus. It causes a sensation of vast wealth to go on to the beaches and from the scattered millions select your own pebbles for the polisher. The more red in your chosen fragments, the more iron, and the harder they will be to polish; while a handsome piece of entirely red ore may be altogether beyond their powers, for serpentine is a rock not a pebble, and the local appliances are crude. The Lizard is also the paradise of the botanist, for the Cornish heath (erica vagans), the sea asparagus, the henbane, and many other plants grow abundantly in this district. From Helston to the Lizard is a pleasant scrambling walk along the fine black cliffs. At Gunwalloe the church rises from the edge of the cliff, its belfry being built into the solid rock about 14 ft. away. In Mullion Church is some admirable wood-carving, and on the west face of the tower a well-cut[Pg 114] crucifixion, and at Kynance are some curious rocks known as "The Bellows" and "The Post Office," which are as interesting to the geologist as they are wonderful to the ordinary visitor.


A curious story is told of a wreck at Gunwalloe, where the St. Andrew, a treasure-ship belonging to the King of Portugal, was driven ashore. The Portuguese had entered into an agreement with the local notabilities for the disposal of their goods, when down rode three Cornish gentlemen at the head of their retainers and carried off the spoil. Unfortunately for them the Portuguese had an Englishman on board, and he promptly brought the matter before the courts and caused an inquiry to be made. But the treasure, as then enumerated, must have been enough to make the mouths water not only of the local authorities, but of any starveling gentleman to whom news of its arrival had come; for it consisted of 8000 cakes of copper, eighteen blocks of silver, and a chest containing £6000, besides pearls, precious stones, chains, brooches, jewels, tapestry, rich hangings, satins, velvets, and four sets of armour.

Just below Gunwalloe are the fine Halzaphron Cliffs. A ship was wrecked here about a hundred years ago, and the bodies from it were said to have been the last which were refused sepulchre in consecrated ground. It makes one's blood boil to think of the barbarities that from the beginning have been perpetrated in the name of religion. There was actually a law on the Statute Book which refused such burial to strangers, on the score that they might not have been Christians. Christians forsooth—pretty Christians they who framed that law![Pg 115]

Another lingering superstition is connected with the Rev. Thomas Flavel, who was buried at Mullion 1682. The man was a noted ghost-layer, and was said to charge five guineas every time he officiated in this way. He was also an enthusiastic Royalist, and Walker thus describes him: "A venerable old gentleman; and lookt the more so in those Times for that he had vowed never to cut off his Beard till the Return of his Majesty to his Kingdom, by which time he had gotten a very long one." His epitaph is curious:

"Earth, take mine earth, my sin let Satan havet,
The World my goods; my Soul, my God who gavet;
For from these four—Earth, Satan, World, and God,
My flesh, my sin, my goods, my soul I had."

On the cliffs by Mullion and above Poldhu (black pool) is the earliest of the permanent wireless stations in England. It forms a prominent, strange but not altogether ugly feature of the landscape—the people think it brings bad weather—and is at any rate in strong contrast to the deep and glorious coves by which in switchback fashion, now cliff, now coombe, the barren dusty headland of the Lizard (chief's high dwelling) is reached.

The Lizard

This is the southernmost point of England, a blunt rounded headland, lying crouched over the deep water, eternally—by day and by night—on the look-out. When the first lighthouse was built here, at the charges of Sir John Killigrew in 1619—note that Godolphin land has given place to the country of the Killigrews—it was disapproved of by the Trinity House. They thought it would serve to light pirates and foreign enemies to a safe landing-place![Pg 116]

To the east of Penolver Point the coast curves sharply in towards the north and is honeycombed with curious caves and blow-holes, Dolor Hugo (from fogou—a subterranean passage), the Devil's Frying Pan by Cadgwith, Raven's Hugo, and others. Here are bays, picturesque with rocks and far from the madding crowd, far also from a railway station, Helston being the nearest; but that is no matter, the ten-mile drive over Goonhilly Downs being well worth the extra weariness and cost.

Mediæval Bells

Cornwall has about fifty bells, dating from before the Reformation. As they had been used to summon the people to rebellion, orders came from London that all bells except "the least of the ring" were to be removed from the churches. This, however, was a command that the recipients thought would be more honoured in the breach than the observance; which is why there are so many good examples, as for instance, at Landewednack, of mediæval bells. This the most southern parish in England has a curious church tower, the admixture of light granite and dark serpentine giving it a chequer-board appearance. It was visited by the plague in 1645, and a hundred years later the burials were disturbed in order to make room for some shipwrecked sailors—whose Christianity one supposes to be vouched for—when to the horror of the inhabitants the plague at once reappeared. Since then they have let sleeping dogs lie.

Landewednack claims to be the last place at which a sermon was preached in Cornish (1678), the incumbent being the Rev. Thos. Cole, who lived to the great age of 120. This fine old gentleman is said to have not long before his death walked to Penryn and back, a distance of thirty miles![Pg 117]

Past Cadgwith, Kennack, Coverack, Porthoustock, and Porthalla, well-known fishing villages, and all romantically situated, but not otherwise interesting, the wanderer comes by way of St. Keverne, a big church with a fresco unique in Cornwall as giving the Greek form of the St. Christopher legend, to Nare Point and the mouth of the Helford River. It is a question which is the more beautiful, this ten-mile long creek with its bold scenery or the softer, more feminine Fal. It rises a little above Helston, at Buttris, flows down to Gweek, where it broadens into an estuary and applies its waters to the nourishing of many oysters—which oysters were unkindly described by Lord Byron, when he stayed at Falmouth, as tasting of copper!

About a mile from Gweek is the "Tolvan," a large irregular slab of granite, near the centre of which is a hole. Weakly children were formerly brought to the "crickstone" and passed at sunrise, nine times, through this hole. The custom having fallen into disrepute, however, the Tolvan now forms part of a cottage fence.


Mawgan Church, which lies between Gweek and Trelowarren, the seat of the Vyvyans, has a brass to one of the Bassets inscribed:

"Shall we all die,
We shall die all,
All die shall we,
Die all we shall."

which quaint lines are also found on a tombstone at Gunwalloe and elsewhere. Trelowarren itself has some interesting pictures, in particular the Vandyke of Charles I. presented by Charles II. in acknowledgment of Sir Rd. Vyvyan's services to his father. This family also possesses[Pg 118] the pearl necklace of Queen Henrietta Maria, in which she sat for the painting now at Hampden Court.

But of all the charming spots up these rocky and wooded creeks commend me to Condora, for there in 1735 were found twenty-four gallons of Roman brass coin. Think of it, dream of it, penniless man. Not a few coppers, but twenty-four gallons!

What a beautiful sound have some of these Cornish names! Rosemullion Head juts out over the Helford River on the north, and above it we have Rosemerrin and the Swan Pool, and not far off St. Anthony in Roseland. It is true that Rhos only means a heath, and that we are on the borders of the gorse-grown districts, known as Roseland; but the word has different associations for the "foreigner," and whatever the true meaning, the lovely name brings to memory the thought and the scent and the colour of the lovelier flowers.[Pg 119]



[Pg 120]

The Rise of Pendennis Castle: Sir John Arundel: The Killigrews: Sir Walter Raleigh: The General Post Office and Falmouth: Penryn: The Fal: The Stannary Courts: Old Truro: Foote and Lowry.

[Pg 121]

The Rise of Pendennis Castle

When Henry VIII. took thought for the coast defences of his semi-island, Falmouth was one of the places that benefited. At St. Mawes and Pendennis batteries were erected and in Budock Church is the brass of John Killigrew, with this pertinent inscription: "Heere lyeth John Killigrew Esquier of Arwenack ... he was the first Captaine of Pendennis Castle, made by King Henry the eight and so continued untill the nynth of Queene Elizabeth, at which time God tooke him to his mercye, being the yeare of our lord 1567. Sr. John Killigrew knight his sonne succeeded him in the same place by the gift of Queene Elizabeth." Henry VIII.'s batteries were not the first fortifications erected on this high point of land, which is literally the "headland fortress." There were formerly three lines of entrenchment, due to an older architect than the Mr. Treffry, of Fowey, who was responsible for this and other of the Cornish defences. Indeed from its position—it is almost surrounded by water—it was marked out both as a refuge and a point of vantage, and was probably fortified before history was more than stories handed down from father to child, or sung by wandering bards who had been given an honoured place by the hearth-fire.

Sir John Arundel

When the war broke out between Charles I. and his Parliament, Henry Killigrew was a member of the House. "I shall provide a good horse, a good buff coat, a good brace of pistols, and I doubt not I shall find a good cause," quoth he when Essex was appointed General and one and another were saying what troops they could raise; and so went out and rode post to Falmouth[Pg 122] and plunged devotedly into the gallant struggle. He would not take any command, though he was in every action and always where there was the most danger. But it was an Arundell, not a Killigrew, who held Pendennis for the King, old John Arundell of Trerice, who as a young man had been at Tilbury when Queen Elizabeth reviewed the troops; and who was known as "Game to the Toes," "John for the King," and "Old Tilbury." To him came the unhappy Queen, Henrietta Maria, rested at Pendennis for a moment, and then winged her way back to France. A couple of years later her son, Charles, embarked here for the Scilly Isles; and shortly after, the news reached Arundell that after the conference on Tresillian Bridge the King's forces had been disbanded, and that the long struggle was over. Across the water Sir John grimly watched the surrender of St. Mawes, and when he found there were malcontents among his men, gave them a safe conduct and let them go. For himself, had he not fought at Edgehill, Lansdowne, and Bradock Down? Summoned to surrender he said he had but a few more days to live and he would not stain them with dishonour. To Fairfax he replied:

"Col. John Arundell to Sir Thomas Fairfax.

"Sir,—The castle was committed to my Government by his Majesty, who by our laws hath command of the castles and forts of this kingdom; and my age of seventy summons me hence shortly. Yet I shall desire no other testimony to follow my departure than my conscience to God and loyalty to his Majesty, whereto I am bound by all the obligations of nature, duty, and oath. I wonder you demand the castle without authority from his Majesty; which if I should render, I brand myself and my posterity with the indelible character of treason.[Pg 123] And having taken less than two minutes resolution, I resolve that I will here bury myself before I deliver up this castle to such as fight against his Majesty, and that nothing you can threaten is formidable to me in respect of the loss of loyalty and conscience.

"Your servant,
"John Arundell,
"of Trerice.

"18th March, 1646."

Stout words from a stout heart; but though the castle, closely invested by land and sea, held out for five lean months and only surrendered on honourable terms, yet surrender it did; being the last place in England, with the one exception of Raglan, so to do. And on August 17, 1646, the garrison marched out "with their horses, complete arms, and other equipages, according to their present or past commands or qualities, with flying colours, trumpets sounding, drums beating, matches lighted at both ends, and bullets in their mouths." So great a stir had Sir John's defence made that not only did the House of Commons vote large sums to the messengers who brought the news that he had yielded, but September 22, 1646, was by their order set apart as a day of public thanksgiving for the surrender "of the garrisons of Pendennis and four other castles."

The Killigrews: Sir Walter Raleigh

Meanwhile Henry Killigrew, after the yielding of Pendennis, had been accidentally wounded in the head by the bursting of a carbine, while his kinsman's house in the neighbourhood had suffered from the exigencies of war. They were a stirring and a striving family, the Killigrews. The name Falmouth, in those days merely meant the land at the mouth of the Fal; and[Pg 124] on this land, when Sir Walter Raleigh, just home from an expedition, stayed with the Killigrews at their house of Arwenack, there was only one other building large enough to accommodate his men. The Killigrews wished to develop their property. They said it was absurd that vessels had not a nearer port than Penryn or Truro; and Sir Walter having just put in to this fine natural harbour, saw the golden side of their suggestion; and cared not a jot about the loss of trade to those other towns. But Truro, Penryn, and Helston, alive to their own interests, had long thrown their weight into the opposition scale; and London was some seven days' journey to the east. Therefore the building operations of the sturdy Killigrews had been brought to a standstill.

It is easy to picture the scene. Sir Walter, after a good dinner, washed down by wines that had paid no duty, sitting at his ease before the windows of the great house, the panorama of hills and land-locked harbour stretching to the horizon, and the Killigrews pointing out its capabilities as a trading-centre and naval base! The great man listened, was convinced, and, presently moving on to London, laid the matter before his Sovereign.

It was the days of interest and influence—those days which, of course, are past and over, so that even kissing no longer goes by favour!—and the Killigrews found Sir Walter's advocacy gave them all they wanted, leave to build their big nest in their own way. From that date the opposition that had been so industriously fostered by the loyal burgesses of Truro, Penryn, and Helston ceased. Why Helston should have taken part is somewhat puzzling, but she may have been willing to help a pair of old friends against that "grove of eagles." At any rate the three towns were unable to accomplish anything further, and could only look on with glum[Pg 125] faces while Falmouth went ahead. Greatly to their indignation Charles II., who remembered what good friends the Killigrews had been to him and his father, granted it a charter in 1661. As soon as they thought it would be safe, the Mayor of Truro asserted his claim to jurisdiction over the port and harbour of Falmouth, by sailing round the harbour to the Black Rock.

According to local rhyme, however, the settlers in their new town were not lacking in sturdiness:

"Old Penrynners up in a tree
Looking as wisht as wisht can be,
Falmouth boys as strong as oak
Knocked 'em down at every poke."

So the burgesses of Falmouth took the matter before the courts and succeeded in establishing the claim of their town to a free control over the waters of its harbour.

The General Post Office and Falmouth

In spite of the Killigrews, however, Falmouth remained small and insignificant until the General Post Office chose the port in 1688 as a station for its newly established mail boats. The next few years was the time of its greatest prosperity, and Flushing—the other side of Penryn Creek, and said to be so named from a colony of Dutch merchants—became its fashionable suburb. Travellers came from all parts of England to embark at this port, warships were stationed here, and the wives of naval officers and others made it their home. The stir and bustle of life has, however, departed with the service that created it; and the fine harbour now only rocks on its broad bosom some little cargo steamers[Pg 126] and a fleet of fishing-boats. Arwenack House, said by some to have been burnt by Sir Peter Killigrew in order that it should not enable the Parliamentarians under cover of its walls to attack Pendennis, was never rebuilt in its former splendour, and the ground that once constituted its park is now laid out in town plots. Portions of the old building are, however, still to be seen in Arwenack Street.


At the head of the creek is Falmouth's ancient rival, the town of Penryn. A Killigrew and his wife—strong men are sometimes gey ill to live with—fell out and the dame, being divorced, sought refuge in Penryn. The Mayor of this place still has in his possession a silver cup and cover given to the borough by this lady. On it is the inscription: "1633.—From Maior to Maior, to the Towne of Penmarin, when they received mee that was in great misery.—Jane Killygrew."

Penryn, still busy at its wharves with the exporting of granite, is the site of Glasney College, where most of the old miracle plays performed at the various plan-an-guares throughout the county were written. But the main industry of the Roseland towns and villages is connected with mines and quarries, the acme of arid desolation and dreariness being reached at Gwennap. The mines there are of great depth, have been worked for centuries, have produced in tin and copper during the last hundred years at least ten million pounds sterling, and are now all abandoned. Imagine the grey wilderness of stone and rubble, of old workings and knacked bals. It rivals the sterility of the Black Country, but that is teeming, while here in very truth is nothing but a littered and abandoned waste.[Pg 127]

The Fal

Between Falmouth, which, as Byron said, "contains many quakers and salt fish," and Truro lies the lovely wooded estuary of the Fal. Once navigable to Tregony, large boats can now only go as far as Ruan Lanihorne. At the latter place the river meets the tide. After passing Tregothnan (Lord Falmouth's seat) it joins the St. Clement and Truro Creeks, and finally, after forming by its twists and turns a series of land-locked lakes of surpassing beauty, it broadens into that fine sheet of water which is known as Carrick Roads. The way to see it properly is to hire a suitable row-boat, stock it with provisions, and go up the silent reaches till you discover some flat brown rock. There boil a kettle gipsy-fashion and linger or go on, as the fancy takes you, up this creek or that—they are equally beautiful—and so winding in and out come at last to the capital city.

Queen Victoria, whose footsteps along the south of Cornwall can be traced by various brass plates, was delighted with it. "We went up the Truro, which is beautiful, winding between banks entirely wooded with stunted oak, and full of numberless creeks. The prettiest are King Harry's Ferry and a spot near Tregothnan (i.e., Feock), where there is a beautiful little boat-house."

The Stannary Courts

When Richard, King of the Romans, was created Earl of Cornwall, he, to encourage the working of the mines—which brought him revenue—granted the tinners a charter. By this, except in cases that might affect lands, life, or limb, they were exempt from all jurisdiction but that of the Stannary Courts. No laws were to be enacted but by the twenty-four stannators chosen from the four stannary districts; and there was[Pg 128] no appeal from the Stannary Court, generally held at Truro, except to the Duke or Sovereign in Council. These laws were concerned with maintaining the purity of the tin, which was tested by cutting off a coign (corner) and stamping the freshly exposed surface. The towns privileged to perform this and collect the dues payable to the earldom (later duchy) were called "coinage towns." It is said that some of their laws were sufficiently grim, as for instance that which compelled an adulterator of tin to swallow three spoonfuls of the molten metal. The last Stannary Parliament was held at Truro in 1752, the courts being finally abolished in 1897.

Old Truro

Truro was the town in which many of the local gentry spent the winter. This custom of the counties, if it made for insularity rather than a cosmopolitan culture, has given many of our old market-places, round the square of which the commodious homes were built, an air of quiet dignity. The gentry themselves, old people at their cards and supper-parties, young people at their routs and balls, must have found it more enjoyable—all friends and neighbours and very often connections—than the present-day fashion of a dip into the whirlpool of London.

Truro is a cathedral city, with a brand new cathedral, which some have been found able to admire, but about which the note struck is generally apologetic. The old houses are empty, simplicity has become complexity, and the local gentry, those that are left, go up to town "for the season." Yet these changes have taken place within the memory of man, and there are those who can talk of the old state of affairs. Life was even more a matter of compromise then than now. People lived simply and did not exact a high standard of comfort. Not even in Boscawen Street was gas or water laid on, but in the[Pg 129] midst thereof was a pump, and thither came the pretty serving lasses to fill their red earthenware pitchers. Monday then, as now, was washing day, and in one godly household of which I wot the maids went early to bed on a Sunday night that as soon as midnight struck they might go forth and bring in enough of the precious fluid to fill tubs and coppers against the morn. It was believed that otherwise what with the competition of all the other maids in Boscawen Street, they would not be able to obtain a sufficiency. In those days sanitary arrangements were of the simplest and healthiest description, and as for baths—well, there was the wooden tub, big, round, and two-handled, the wooden tub and Saturday night!

Foote and Lowry

In households such as this were born Foote, the comedian, in 1721, and Lowry, Cornwall's greatest poet, in 1867. Of the former we have the story that when a wealthy man gave him a very small glass of wine, at the same time boasting of its age and quality, he, glancing at it, remarked, "My lord, surely it is very little for its age?" Of Lowry we have no humorous stories. Cornwall has not produced many great men—some gallant soldiers; in Sir Humphrey Davy a man of science; the painter Opie; and in Lowry, as every one must acknowledge who has read "The Hundred Windows," a poet! It will be a distinct loss to the nation if, in the hurly-burly of modern life, the clear true note of this Cornish singer should be lost.[Pg 131][Pg 130]



[Pg 132]

St. Mawes and Gerrans: Tregony and Probus: Cornish Mutton: A Story of Cornish Vengeance: Mevagissey: Antiquarian Finds: The Capital of Clayland: Cock's and Hen's Barrow: Carglaze Mine: Luxulyan: The Civil Wars: Lostwithiel: Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle: The Fight on St. Winnow's Downs: The Gallants of Fowey: Place: Lanteglos: Polperro: Stories of Talland, Killigarth, and Trelawne: The Giant's Hedge: Boconnoc: Liskeard.

[Pg 133]

St. Mawes and Gerrans

The "free and sworn burgesses" of St. Mawes, numbering about twenty, formerly returned two members to Parliament; now it is a tiny sleepy fishing port with many quiet places of retreat up the winding creeks, the sort of place for a honeymoon couple, "the world forgetting by the world forgot."

According to tradition Gerrans embodies the name of Gerennius, King of Cornwall, of whom the Welsh Bards sang:

"In Llongborth Geraint was slain,
A brave man from the region of Dyvnaint—"

follows a grimly suggestive line:

"And before they were overpowered they committed slaughter."

Near Trewithian is an ancient earthwork called Dingerein, and believed to be Geraint's dwelling-place, the "Dyvnaint" of the song. When he died his body was carried in a golden boat with silver oars across the bay to Pendower beach, and buried with the boat on the hill above, while over it was raised the cairn known as Veryan Beacon. It was believed also that some day he would rise up in his armour and sail away in that glorious boat. This tradition has been found in several places. Men who lived with a vital awe-inspiring king found it difficult to believe that such a flame could be extinguished. He had vanished into the surrounding darkness, but none the less, thought they, he must be somewhere, somewhere whence he could, nay surely would, return. This belief would probably be fostered by his successor. If he were a child or weakling, the[Pg 134] people would hesitate to be disloyal, for fear of what would befall them when the mightier father returned.

The great tumulus at Carne was opened in 1855, and within was found a kist-vaen of unhewn stones, covered with limestone boulders; but in the kist were only ashes, pieces of charcoal, and burnt dust. Objects of gold are rarely found in barrows; but in the neighbourhood of the Cheesewring was a persistent story that at some former time a golden cup was actually dug out of a barrow near by. In course of time the tradition was found to be true, and the cup is now in the king's collection.

Tregony and Probus

A little inland from these shores that reverberate with tales of long ago is Tregony, once celebrated for its boys' school, to which the Truro lads went daily in that great Cornish institution, a bus. It is a most ancient place, supposed to have been a Roman station; and when Edward I. gave Parliamentary representation to the country, Tregony was allowed to send two members, and did so in 1294. Many years since, a large stone coffin was dug up near the town, but the measurements given should be received with caution.

Probus, about four miles north-west of Tregony, has a church of exceptional beauty. The tower is of St. Stephen's stone and the highest in Cornwall, being 123 ft. to the top of the pinnacles; it is of elaborate and beautiful workmanship, while there is good sixteenth-century carving in the church and an ancient stone altar mensa. Not far from Probus is Wolveden, generally called Golden. Here Francis Tregian sheltered his chaplain, Cuthbert Mayne, in 1577, the cell in which he was concealed being still in good case, as well as a fine Tudor doorway and chimney piece; but the old chapel, though still standing, is part of the stables. The punishment for sheltering[Pg 135] a wandering Catholic priest was heavy. Mayne was discovered and hanged at Launceston, and Tregian was thrown into prison, where he languished for eight and twenty years. And all this miserable waste of life because Henry VIII. chose to think differently to his ancestors on "matters appertaining to religion."

Cornish Mutton

These Roseland parishes, with their undulating heaths and sweet short turf, are famous for their mutton. The meat generally in Cornwall, after the uncertainty over chilled beef and New Zealand lamb in other parts of the country, is an agreeable change. Nor is it dear. For visitors the prices of food have gradually risen, but not very long ago butter was a shilling a pound, mackerel a penny each, milk twopence a quart, and little fat pilchards six—seven—eight a penny!

A Story of Cornish Vengeance

Not far from each other stand the remains of two great manor houses, Caerhayes Castle, demolished in 1808 and rebuilt, and Bodrugan, now a farm, but once, after Stowe the finest house in the county. The lords of these manors took different sides during the disturbances consequent on the Wars of the Roses and, in the end, Henry de Bodrugan was charged by his neighbours—and among them John Arundell of Tolverne—with having robbed their houses and also with various acts of piracy on the high seas. He, however, was hand and glove with Richard Crookback, who, if an awkward enemy, could be a good friend, and Bodrugan's conviction, obtained in his absence, was subsequently quashed. For the time being he escaped the consequence of his misdeeds, but in his triumph he did not forget to whom[Pg 136] he owed his tribulation, and before long saw good reason to accuse Sir Richard Edgcumbe of Cotehele, on the Tamar, and his neighbour, Sir Hugh Trevanion of Caerhayes, of plotting to bring about the accession of Henry VII. A word to Richard, and that monarch, who lost no time in such matters, sent soldiers post haste to arrest Edgcumbe. So unexpectedly did they arrive at Cotehele that their prey had to spring out of the nearest window and make for the woods. When he reached the river they were hard on his heels. But he was a man of resource. Snatching off his cap he tossed it into the water, and when the soldiers arrived they saw it floating slowly down the current and came to the conclusion that he was drowned. Trevanion and Edgcumbe hurried off to Henry of Richmond, and no doubt were with him when he landed at Rame Head, a little further east. They distinguished themselves at Bosworth Field, and in the church of St. Michael, Caerhayes, hangs the sword worn that day by Sir Hugh, the sword with which he was made a knight-banneret by the new king.

But Edgcumbe and Trevanion had a private account to settle and, asking leave of absence, they rode west. Sir Henry de Bodrugan, however, was before them. His cause was lost, his master dead, and he knew that there was little mercy to be hoped for from either Edgcumbe or Trevanion. The enemies met on Woful Moor. Bodrugan gave back and back, till at last only the sea lay behind him. Then he turned and leapt—the rock is still shown—and being a strong swimmer was presently picked up by a passing vessel. His lands, with the goodwill of the King, were divided between his vengeful enemies, and the manor itself has been handed down from Edgcumbe to Edgcumbe in uninterrupted succession to this day.[Pg 137]

Caerhayes, Goran and the Dodman

It was at Caerhayes that Sir John Berkeley and Colonel Slingsby, who had been sent into Cornwall, during the autumn of 1649, to encourage their friends to rise for Charles II., were surprised by the watchful Roundheads. Lord Byron's grandmother was a Trevanion of Caerhayes, but the castle no longer shelters the descendants of the man who laid its foundation-stone, and if you would see relics of the wild Trevanions you must seek them in the arcade—where hang helmets, swords, and gauntlets—of the little church of St. Michael.

At Goran Church were once monuments to all three families, but those of the Trevanions have disappeared, while the Bodrugans are now only represented by the arms cut on the granite font. This church has a high embattled tower, a good day-mark for ships, and in the chancel a curious oak chair elaborately carved with the figure of a woman.

South of Goran is the Dodman, the pride of the southern coast, a headland which is 400 ft. high and about whose feet the water is so deep that vessels of large draught may sail by within a few feet. It is of dark weathered rocks with a ditch and rampart winch, crossing from one side to the other, cuts it off from the land. The finest beaches on the south stretch right and left from this headland, which gives a good view of the cliffs and fishing coves all up and down the coast from the Rame to the Lizard.

It is curious how frequently two or more places in Cornwall bear the same name. There are two St. Justs, two St. Anthonys, two Mawgans, Constantines, Pentires, while as to Pennare there are several. A Black Head (250 ft.) was the most important promontory between the Lizard and Falmouth, and here, after Chapel[Pg 138] Point with its prehistoric remains, Mevagissey with its sardine factory—(All-British shoppers, please note)—and Pentewan with its quarries, the next blue point breaking the northward line is another—and a most bold and precipitous—Black Head!


Near Mevagissey, locally and opprobriously termed Fishygissey, is Pencarne, seat of the one-handed Carew, whose portrait is in Heligan House. He lost his hand by a cannon-shot at the siege of Ostend (1601) and, returning to his quarters after the fight, held out the lopped member with a casual: "There is the hand that cut the pudding this morning!"

Antiquarian Finds

In this neighbourhood several interesting finds have been made. At Pentewan some curious oaken canoes buried in the soil were found by the tinners. Unaware of the unique nature of what they had discovered, the miners broke them up for firewood! Better luck, however, attended a remarkable and interesting find at Trewhiddle. Some miners, when searching for tin in a stream work, at 17 ft. below the surface, came on a silver cup which proved to be a chalice containing coins and some ornaments. These coins bore date from 757 to 874, and the names of such well-known Kings as Egbert and Alfred, with a unique silver penny of Eanred of Northumbria and a Louis le Debonnaire (King of the Franks 814). It is supposed that the hoard was buried when sea-robbers were harrying the coast, and that he who hid it did not live to come back. It is now in the British Museum.[Pg 139]

The Capital of Clayland

Roseland has given place to Clayland, with St. Austell for the capital. This town is not far from the sea. Its narrow crooked thoroughfares radiate in all directions from the old church, over the porch of which is a Cornish inscription, "Ry Du," the meaning of which is unknown. The well-known tower is sculptured and of Pentewan stone. Within is good woodwork, a weirdly carved font, and a series of shields which, if not beautiful as art, are interesting for their symbolism. At St. Austell was born Colenso, the fighting bishop, who having set Christendom by the ears and been excommunicated for heresy was afterwards confirmed in the possession of his see.

The town is of modern origin, owing its existence to the various mines and clayworks in the neighbourhood. The clayman drives his team in single file, and an endless procession of heavy waggons rumbles through the narrow streets, waggons laden with powdered clay in barrels or with the white glistening lumps uncovered. This clay is found in large quantities at Hensbarrow, Burngullow (where the first sod of the Cornwall Railway was cut in 1847), St. Stephen's, and the Bodmin Moors, and is exported from Par, Fowey, and Charlestown. About 1763 Wedgwood leased a mine near St. Austell, using the clay for the manufacture of his well-known porcelain. About 60,000 tons of this material are exported annually to the Potteries and into Lancashire.

The Menagew, a famous old stone said to have been a boundary at the junction of three manors, has been removed from its ancient site—the pity o't!—and fixed in the pavement at the corner of Menacuddle Street, the spot being marked by a brass plate. Lake says: "On this stone all declarations of war and proclamations[Pg 140] of peace were read ... all cattle for whom no owner could be found were brought here and exposed for a certain number of market days, after which, if unclaimed, their sale became legal," and there is a hint that in yet earlier days the criminal was brought to this stone for execution and that by the shedding of blood it became set apart and sacred.

Cock's and Hen's Barrow

To the north of St. Austell, and on the highest land in the neighbourhood is the "Hen's Barrow." The latter, which is 1034 ft. above the sea level, is also known as the Archbeacon of Cornwall. From here the whole county can be seen stretched out below, and here are the chief china pits. On its northern slope is a vast mass of schorl, the celebrated Roche Rock. On its summit are the fourteenth-century ruins of a chapel to St. Michael, locally said to have been built by the last male heir of Tregarrick manor, who, weary of the world, lived here in solitude. A little north of Roche and beyond the old half-forgotten holy well is a pool, the water of which may easily be made to flow in different directions—either to Par, Falmouth, or Padstow!

Carglaze Mine

West of Roche is St. Dennis, the church of which stands on a conical hill of granite in the middle of a prehistoric entrenchment. In the churchyard is a fine cross and round it earthworks and tumuli. A great part of the surface in this neighbourhood has been opened for china clay and china stone, but by far the most important mine is that of Carglaze, once worked for tin. The pit of this mine presents a remarkable appearance, for though nearly a mile in circumference it is[Pg 141] only 150 ft. deep. It resembles indeed nothing as much as a gigantic crater!


South of St. Austell and near Porthpean is a granite longstone known as Tregeagle's Stick, another instance of some older story being attached to a recent hero, for the pillar must have been there many hundreds of years before Tregeagle was born. On Gwallen Downs are several earthworks, cairns, holy wells, &c., while Menacuddle boasts a very pretty cascade. This cannot be compared with the one at Luxulyan, which has a fall of 200 ft. That "valley of rocks," a beautiful, picturesque spot, is crossed by the Treffry aqueduct, and lies in a parish of wild land strewn with blocks of granite and porphyry. One of the latter was worked into a sarcophagus for the celebrated Duke of Wellington, while the Giant Block of Luxulyanite is said to be the largest in Europe.

St. Blazey

If St. Austell is the capital of clayland, St. Blazey is second to it as a trading-centre for granite and china clay. Its saint was said to be the patron of woolcombers, though this is probably a mere modern confusion of names. Here was born Ralph Allen, who invented cross country posts and, while obliging his fatherland, managed to enrich himself. Pope, who stayed with him at Prior Park (Bath), describes him somewhat contemptuously:

"Let humble Allen with an awkward shame
Do good by stealth and blush to find it fame."

'Tis true that Allen was the son of a St. Blazey innkeeper, that he had made instead of inheriting his money, but to go down to posterity as "humble" and "awkward!"[Pg 142] The first edition is "low-born Allen," but this was altered at the poor man's protest.

The Civil Wars

It is pleasant to leave the china clay with its milky fouling of clear waters and its diseased outcrops, white with the white of leprosy. Crossing Par sands, where Essex watched in vain for the ships laden with his supplies and where, of the old lead smelting works even the chimney known all over the countryside as Par Stack is now gone, the road turns down the coast—past Menabilly with its geological grotto and museum, past Gribben Head set with a day-mark tower some 80 ft. high—and so round the little peninsula into which the Parliamentarian Army was penned by the more active Royalists in 1644, and up to Fowey.

When Charles I. in the August of that year pursued the foolish and shortsighted Essex into Cornwall, the King began by calling together his soldiers and enumerating the services rendered to his cause by the people of the duchy, and he strictly and with divers threats forbade plundering. That for once he meant what he said, was proved a fortnight later by Prince Maurice, who hanged a soldier for plundering Lanhydrock; and that there might be no misunderstanding about the matter, left him with a ticket to that effect pinned on his breast.

Essex, a stupid and inactive man, had come into Cornwall against his better judgment, Lord Robartes having said that the country would rise to join him. Before he got as far as Bodmin he discovered that the contrary was like to be the case; and when the King came sweeping into the duchy and Sir Richard Grenville marched out of Truro, Essex, who was between them, saw the hopelessness of his position. In the midst of a[Pg 143] country so hostile that his soldiery had to forage far and wide for grudged provisions, he had nothing upon which to fall back, for some ships loaded with cheese and biscuit which he was daily expecting had not arrived. Essex, who always did the wrong thing or else the right thing too late, cast about at this eleventh hour to keep a passage open for his supplies and, anxious to get nearer the sea, made for Lostwithiel. The immediate result of this movement was that the forces of Grenville and the King presently formed a semicircle about him from shore to shore, and matters went from bad to worse. His soldiers, in need of food and tempted by papers offering a free pardon which the Royalists scattered among them, were daily slipping away to join the King. Having left the eastern side of the harbour unguarded, the forts there, as well as Polruan and Hall House, were soon taken; and this gave Charles the command of the estuary, while on the other side Grenville had secured the little haven of Par, where Essex was hoping his delayed stores would be landed. At this juncture he made a belated effort to help himself and those dependent on him. On the evening of August 31 deserters reported that the Parliamentarian cavalry was drawn up on the east bank of the river. It was evident that Essex was contemplating a move, and orders were issued to the Royalists to stand at arms throughout the night, break down all bridges, and throw baulks of timber across the roads and lanes. Furthermore Goring was bidden collect his cavalry and be in readiness to act on any point at which the enemy might attempt to break through.

Unfortunately, when the King's orders reached Goring he was in no condition to obey them. The night came on dark and foggy. There was a narrow space on St. Winnow's Downs between the two Royalist divisions;[Pg 144] but though not covered with troops it was guarded by some fifty fusiliers. These men were—what shall we say? They could scarcely on such a raw night have been asleep and why should they have been absent? At any rate it was over this space that, moving with silent celerity, Sir Wm. Balfour with the whole of the Parliamentarian horse passed unchallenged out on to the open ground. Until a second message from the King reached Goring, he could not be got from his wine. The enemy was then actually passing over the hill, and had it not been for this scandalous behaviour probably not a man would have escaped.

Some days earlier poor old Restormel Castle had been stormed by Grenville, and his forces under cover of a mist had then moved down towards Lostwithiel, but it was reserved for the King to take that ancient town; which he did just in time to prevent the destruction by the retreating Essex of the beautiful bridge.

Although the Parliamentarian General was forced to retire, he did so doggedly, contesting every street and every field, and that night the King slept in the rain under a hedge by the prehistoric earthwork of Castle Dor.


On the following morning Essex proposed a parley. Before the King's answer could reach him, however, he had, with a sudden change of front, embarked on one of the ships in Fowey harbour and set sail for Plymouth. Major-General Skippon, who had been left in command, immediately capitulated with six thousand men; and then for once in its long and sleepy existence was Lostwithiel aroused. The Parliamentarians had desecrated the beautiful church; the slates of the roof were lying in heaps where a barrel of gunpowder had been touched[Pg 145] off under the graceful octagonal lanthorn of its spire—"the Glory of Cornwall." They had plundered the Exchequer Hall, burnt the stannary records, and committed other enormities; but now the yoke of the oppressor was broken. Tho King did his humane best to protect the soldiers, but the long-suppressed hostility of the mob found vent in a sudden flame of violence, while the women set upon the officers, stripped them of all they had and rode off with their horses!

Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle

Lanhydrock House being now the property of the King, he, as a mark of his gratitude, granted it to Sir Richard Grenville, whom he created Baron of Lostwithiel; but no sooner did the Parliament get the upper hand than the new-made baron was deprived of his property. The present house is of granite and stands low, the hills springing from the end of the gardens. On them is a little church, and in front an open and undulating park. The headquarters of Essex were in this park, through which a long avenue of sycamores leads to a barbican of fine workmanship, behind which appears the simple façade of the two-storied house. Within, a room is shown as that used by Tregeagle when steward of the estates.

A little south is Restormel Castle. Its long life has been that of a ruin slowly sinking into the earth from which it rose. In 1245 Earl Richard found it much decayed. He restored it; and the Black Prince, who twice stayed there, did the same. When the Parliamentarians came it had long been abandoned to the owls and the ivy, but as it commanded the Fowey they repaired and garrisoned it. After the surrender of their army it was once more abandoned, and now all that[Pg 146] remains of the old fortress is the round keep with a gate-house on the west and a projecting turret on the north-east. It is on a mound surrounded by a moat and lies deep in woods and remote from human habitation. Its very name, Restormel (once Lestormel, a chief's dwelling), shows that its builder was a man of note among the people who are gone. It has seen them make merry in its halls, it has seen them pass. It has roused up now and again to groan under the tyranny of new masters; but now, deserted in its robe of ivy, a mound, and a few stones, it sleeps through the sunshine and the rain, and with every year sinks a little and a little into itself and the kind covering earth.

"The old sea here at my door,
The old hills there in the West—
What can a man want more
Till he goes at last to his rest?"


Nor is Lostwithiel much more widely awake. Nowadays it consists of a few rather picturesque streets, an old stone bridge, and a church with a lanthorn spire—the finest piece of church architecture in Cornwall! But it has not forgotten the days when a desperate king, gladdened by a brief gleam of success, fought his way through those same picturesque streets with an enemy that contested every stone and every house. It has not forgotten that he fought from early morning, pushing the stubborn foe before him, until by eventide he had the streets clear, and Lostwithiel, happy loyal Lostwithiel was his.[Pg 147]

The Fight on St. Winnow's Downs

Before this came to pass, however, a curious conflict had taken place on St. Winnow's Downs. One hundred Roundheads, youths from sixteen to twenty years of age and led by Colonel Straughan, had challenged a like number of the King's troops to heroic combat on Druid's Hill. On a set day the two bodies of horse met in sight of both armies, Straughan having "nothing on his head but a hat and on the trunk of his body naught but a white shirt"—he was indeed fighting bare-sark—"while his troop consisted of men so young that on their chins never a razor had passed." Lord Digby, the Royalist leader, and his followers advanced firing their pistols as they came, whereupon Straughan and his boys charged furiously, withholding their fire until they were so close that at the deadly discharge half the Royalists were slain on the spot and there was scarce horse or man but received some hurt.

The Church of St. Winnow is beautifully placed on the very margin of this charming estuary, a little before the Lerryn creek opens to the east. Below is the pass between St. Veep and Golant, a pass taken and fortified by the Royalists.

The Gallants of Fowey

The Gallants of Fowey probably means the men of Golant, near Fowey, though various other derivations have been suggested, as for instance the fight between the seafaring men of Rye and Winchelsea and those of Fowey. It appears the latter had sailed somewhat near the aforesaid towns, and when summoned to make civil apology for the intrusion "stiffly refused to vaile their bonnets. This caused the Ripiers to make out[Pg 148] with might and main against them; howbeit with a more hardy onset than happy issue, for the Fowey men gave them so rough entertainment as their welcome that they were glad to depart without bidding farewell—the merit of which exploit afterwards entitled them 'gallants of Fowey.'"

This little town, which consists of a single street along the western bank of the estuary and many houses set down higgledy-piggledy wherever room could be found, was once of some consequence. During the reign of Edward III. it sent—assisted, no doubt, by the surrounding country—no less than forty-seven ships manned by seven hundred and seventy men, to the siege of Calais. No other town in England sent so many ships and no town but Yarmouth so many men. The Black Prince, who it must be remembered was the first Duke of Cornwall, granted the people of Golant certain common rights in return for their services, and Fowey grew in pride and consideration. In fact, as the saying is, it grew "too big for its boots," and did more than a little privateering on its own account. When Edward IV. made peace with France, Fowey, which had grown fat on the plunder of foreign merchantmen, continued its hostilities; and in time a pursuivant rode down from London to make inquiry.

"I am at peace with my brother of France," ran the royal message.

"But we are not," was the reply. Furthermore they took the pursuivant, slit his ears and cut off his nose.

It was hardly the way to treat a King of so royal a temper as Edward IV., and Fowey—is it Fowey now or Troy?—suffered. His commissioners did their work treacherously, but they did it well. The chief men were seized, their goods confiscated, and their leader hanged. The great chain which barred the narrow entrance to[Pg 149] their harbour and protected them from night attacks was taken away, while the men of Dartmouth were sent by sea to remove their ships. Edward meant to smoke out this nest of freebooters. There could be only one king in England and he would have them recognise it. The savage punishment resulted in the gradual decay of the little cheerful town. Those who had been so greatly daring were dead, and until Henry VIII. built batteries here the place lay at the mercy of any passing marauder. A story interesting for the light it sheds on Queen Elizabeth's character is told of some Spanish ships in 1568. Bound for Alba, in the Netherlands, with a large sum of money, they were chased by privateers and took refuge in Fowey and other ports. The privateers waiting outside till they should reappear, the Spaniards were helpless. After a little hesitation Elizabeth had the treasure seized and the crews arrested. She said that, fearing the audacity of the pirates, she would keep the money safe!


The old fortress mansion of the great family of Treffry is on the opposite side of the harbour. Tradition says that a Treffry took King John prisoner at Poictiers, and as a reward was given permission to quarter on his shield the arms of France. More than once the Treffrys helped to defend Fowey from foreign violence; and their wives were as brave as they. In the grounds of Place House is a statue of Elizabeth Treffry who, in the absence of her husband, July 1457, headed his men and beat off the French.

On the shore at Polruan is a ruinous blockhouse, from which the chain that guarded Fowey Harbour was once stretched across the estuary to a similar building on the other side. Here is Hall, the ancient seat of the Mohuns,[Pg 150] and while Charles I. was walking on the terrace he narrowly escaped being struck by a ball from the guns of Lord Essex. The chapel and guardhouse are still standing, but the former is used as a cowhouse.

Lanteglos: Polperro

The church of Lanteglos, consisting as it does of the work of so many periods, is exceptionally interesting to the student of architecture. The tower opens into the church by three massive arches, the western corner of the piers being Norman; the nave arcades are of the fourteenth century, the northern slightly earlier than the southern. The four deeply recessed windows in the north with their elaborate tracery are recognised by architects as resembling those of Somerset, which is probably accounted for by the fact that this church was appropriated in 1284 to St. John's Hospital at Bridgwater. Between Lansallos Church, with its lofty tower (514 ft. above the sea), a well-known seamark, and Talland Church, which is full of rich and beautiful work lies Polperro (Pool of Peter) in a cove at the foot of two high hills. This little place is the southern duplicate of Port Isaac, but its air is milder—less bracing—than that of the grey northern town. The houses cluster thickly at the mouth of a cleft between the hills and the storms are so terrible that although three piers protect the little harbour, heavy baulks of timber have often to be let down into grooves, to break the force of the waves. The Couch family have lived at Polperro during several generations, the father and grandfather of the novelist having been doctors there.

It is said that the first station of the Coastguard Preventive Service was at Polperro, a statement which "gives furiously to think." The welcome Cornwall gave to the Parliamentarian generals must have been genial[Pg 151] compared with that extended to the preventive officers. Coastguards in Cornwall, the home of wreckers and smugglers! No doubt they had an exhilarating time!

Talland, Killigarth and Trelawne

There are three houses in this neighbourhood about which stories are told. The manor of Talland formerly belonged to the Morths, and one of this family employed a French servant. Mr. Morth does not seem to have given his servant satisfaction, for the man returned home, and when war broke out "returneth back again with a French crew, surprizeth suddenly his master and his guests at a Xmas supper, and forceth the gentleman to redeem his enlargement with the sale of a great part of his revenues" (Carew). It is not often that the tables can be so neatly turned.

Killigarth belonged to the Bevilles, and in the sixteenth century, one Sir William going forth from his own house on a winter's day, found under a hedge a certain John Size nearly dead with cold. He took him into his service and found that he had gotten a remarkable sort of servant, for Size "would eat nettles and thistles, coals and candles, birds with their feathers, and fish with their scales. He could handle, unhurt, blazing wood and hot iron, and used to lie asleep with his head curled under his body" (Carew).

The Trelawnys of Trelawne originally came from another place of the same name, further inland. Among the pictures at this house—parts of which are old—is an early one of Elizabeth, interesting on account of the queen's youth.

John Trelawny, father of the celebrated Jonathan, Bishop of Bristol, was committed to the Tower in 1627[Pg 152] by the House of Commons. As he was popular in the county the Cornish were greatly exercised, and it is said that the old ballad sung riotously by his compatriots:

"And shall Trelawny die?
Here's twenty thousand Cornishmen
Will know the reason why—"

was instrumental in procuring his release. Be that as it may, he was set free by order of the King and shortly after made a baronet. The ballad composed for the misfortunes of the father survived to be made of use when his son, one of the seven bishops who presented the petition to James II., was imprisoned and tried for seditious libel by that most worthless of the Stuarts. The verses were subsequently lost, the Rev. Robert Hawker, always ready to make good any little deficiency of the kind having composed the present version.

The Giant's Hedge

A model of Bishop Trelawny's pastoral staff, made of gilt wood with ornaments of copper, is preserved in Pelynt Church, where he was buried; but the most interesting thing in this neighbourhood, as well as the most puzzling, is that great earthwork the Giant's Hedge, which, stretching from Lerrin to Looe, a matter of seven miles, passes through this parish.

"One day the devil having nothing to do
Built a great hedge from Lerrin to Looe."

There is no evidence to say by whom this earthwork, which in parts is 7 ft. high and 20 ft. wide, was built. Once more let us pray for a Passmore Edwards to supply us with this evidence—by judicious excavation.[Pg 153]


By way of Lanreath Church with its painted mediæval rood screen we come to the manor of Boconnoc. This house has seen a succession of noble owners and some interesting visitors. Charles I. spent nearly the whole of the cold and rainy August during which he was in Cornwall under its hospitable roof, and Pitt, Governor of Madras, purchased the place with part of the proceeds of the "Pitt" diamond. The wing in which the King slept was pulled down by Pitt; and the house, which is built on rising ground in a lawn of a hundred acres, remodelled. It was here that his son, the famous statesman, was born. An obelisk has been set up in the midst of the entrenchments made during the Civil Wars—a piece of curious taste, as the man commemorated by it had nothing to do with either king or parliament, living indeed long after both were dust!

Between this obelisk and Bradock Church was fought the battle of Bradock Downs. The Royalists who had marched from Bodmin slept all night under the hedges in Boconnoc Park. Next morning, January 19, 1643, they found the Parliamentarians awaiting them on the rising ground of the common. After keeping up a fire of small arms for some two hours, the Royalists were led forward by Sir Beville Grenville in one of his dashing charges. Their opponents broke and ran, fleeing to Liskeard with great loss of arms and men. Their stay there, however, was but brief, for the Cavaliers pursued them—across the downs, by the main road, and by St. Pinnoc—and so took the town without a blow.[Pg 155][Pg 154]



[Pg 156]

King Dungarth and King Alfred: Menheniot: St. Keyne: Looe: A Cage for Scolds: Looe Island and the Smugglers: The Armada: Sheviock: The Eddystone: Mount Edgcumbe: The Tamar: Trematon Castle: Markets: Saltash: Moditonham: Paleologus: Pentillie: Cotehele: Hingston Down: Polyfant: Launceston.

[Pg 157]

King Dungarth and King Alfred

It is pleasant, after following the footsteps of an English king so foolish that his people out of sheer exasperation presently rose up and slew him, to come upon traces of one whom the nation, from his day even until now, has blessed and called great. To the north of Liskeard lies the big parish of St. Neot, once called Gueryr, and St. Neot, 'tis said, was a near relative of King Alfred, a relative noted for sanctity and of whom many wonderful stories are told. He appears to have been on friendly terms with Dungarth, King of Cornwall, who lived at Liskeard, and at whose palace Alfred stayed in order to hunt the red deer on the surrounding moors. Nor was it only for the hunting that Alfred came to Liskeard. Gueryr, St. Neot's fellow saint, was supposed to have had some medical knowledge, and the King, delicate from boyhood, was in bad health. He went across the moors to pray, and possibly to bathe in the spring of clear water, still known as the well of St. Neot; and as faith in the doctor is half the battle we may hope his ills were alleviated. Dungarth—a fine monarch we must believe or else no friend to Alfred—was drowned in the River Fowey when hunting near Redgate, 875. In the parish of St. Cleer is a fractured granite pillar about 8 ft. high, and in digging near, a second fragment was found, inscribed in Latin, "Doniert (possibly Dungarth) asks you to pray for his soul."

To think that a thousand and odd years ago, Alfred was staying in this little old market town with a friend; that they were planning hunting expeditions; and that Dungarth was recommending his own doctor—"just like any other man." How queer it all is and how little human nature changes.

The corporation at Liskeard has some interesting[Pg 158] silver, and in the church is a monument to Joseph Wadham said to have been "the last of that family whose ancestors were the founders of Wadham College, Oxford." This church is unique in Cornwall in having thirteen fifteenth-century consecration crosses cut on the north and south aisles. In the town is Stuart House, where Charles I. stayed for about a week in 1644.

A little south of Liskeard, on the way to Menheniot, is Clicker Tor, a mass of serpentine rock resembling the rocks of the Lizard. That beautiful heath (Erica vagans) that grows on the serpentine is found here.


Until the introduction—at the wish of the Cornish—of the English liturgy during the reign of Henry VIII., the ancient tongue was the language of the county. Dr. Mooreman, Vicar of Menheniot from 1530 to 1554, was the first parson in Cornwall to teach his parishioners the Lord's Prayer, the Belief and the Commandments in English. Nowadays, while it is not uncommon in Wales—which had only the Welsh liturgy—to hear the "Dim Sassenach," which means that some old person is unable or unwilling to speak English, the Cornish equivalent, "Mee a navidra cowza Sawzneck," has been entirely forgotten.

Menheniot (after St. Columb Major) is the most valuable benefice in the county, and the church possesses two interesting flagons of sixteenth-century Lambeth stoneware, with lid and collar of silver dated 1578 and 1581.

St. Keyne

On the other side of the valley, not far from the famous old mine of Herodsfoot, is the Well of St. Keyne. Over it, in an astonishingly small space, are five trees, oak, elm, and ash, and although these were planted in 1750,[Pg 159] it was only in the place of older trees mentioned in 1602. Concerning the water of this celebrated well, it is fabled that if after marriage the wife should drink of its waters before her husband she shall have the mastery and vice-versa. Southey's ballad tells us of a bride who took some to church with her in a bottle and drank it while her husband was running to the well.

At Duloe is a circle which probably encloses a burial place. The stones are all of quartz, which is unusual, and they are large, the biggest being 8 ft. high and 7 ft. wide. In this church lies gallant old Sir John Arundell, the defender of Pendennis Castle.


East and West Looe are two quaint fishing-villages divided by the estuary and joined by a bridge. They are, as usual, huddled together as near the bottom of their hills as possible and consist of a few crooked and narrow streets, with houses built anyhow and anywhere. Like Fowey, they look as if presently they might slip a little, make a tiny splash, and disappear into the water, to be talked of by succeeding generations as a "great city of seven churches and thousands of inhabitants that for some forgotten crime on the part of its people had been overwhelmed by a sea wave," and to prove this thing they would quote from the Chronicle (not the Saxon this time but the Daily), "in this year came that great sea flood, widely through this land, and it ran up so far as never at any time before, and it drowned many towns and mankind too innumerable to be computed."

A Cage for Scolds

Meanwhile East and West Looe still lie poised insecurely above the tide, while donkeys laden with panniers[Pg 160] scramble up the precipitous streets, and in this way your groceries and so forth come to your door. It is thoroughly in keeping with the place that the old ducking stool and they say the cage for scolds should still exist. About the latter Mr. Bond tells the following appropriate story:

"At East Looe Hannah Whit and Bessy Niles, two women of fluent tongue, having exerted their oratory on each other, at last thought it prudent to leave the matter in dispute to be settled by the Mayor. Away they posted to his worship. The first who arrived had scarce begun her tale when the other bounced in, in full rage, and began hers likewise, and abuse commenced with redoubled vigour. His worship, Mr. John Chubb, ordered the constable to be called and each of the combatants thought her antagonist was going to be punished, and each thought right. When the constable arrived, his worship pronounced to him the following command: 'Take these women to the cage, and there keep them till they have settled their dispute.' They were immediately conveyed thither, and after a few hours' confinement became as quiet and inoffensive beings as ever breathed, and were then liberated to beg Mr. Mayor's pardon."

Looe Island and the Smugglers

Except the Scillies, the only inhabited island of Cornwall is St. George (or Looe Island). It measures fourteen acres and was once exceedingly useful to smugglers. Not many years since, the floor of a respectable looking building gave way, and the reason thereof became apparent when it was found that it had been hollowed underneath to form a receptacle for those good spirits which came[Pg 161] from France by way of the Looe galleys. The most wonderful hiding-place in this part of the country is the now well-known duckpond, said to have been at Lansallos, near Polperro. This swung on a pivot, and when moved disclosed a cavity. At all other times it presented an innocently rural appearance, so much so that the preventive officers often sat, all unsuspiciously, within a few feet of it.

East of East Looe is the little hamlet of Crafthole, with two crosses, one known locally as "Stump Cross," a fine specimen of a plain Latin cross with chamfered angles, and another of earlier date with a broken top. This bay, which stretches from Looe to Penlee, was once a valley filled with trees, but, as Florence of Worcester says, "The sea comes out upon the shore and buries towns and men very many, oxen and sheep innumerable."

The Armada

It is a quiet strip of coast, yet it was here between Rame Head and the Dodman, that on a breezy Sunday morning the Spaniards of the Armada first caught sight of the English fleet under Lord Howard of Effingham, and the volunteer flotilla that was led by Francis Drake. The Spanish plan was to divide fleet from flotilla, but as the light English boats could sail closer to the wind and were generally more easy to handle, it met with little success. The Spanish admiral was soon to discover that his little enemy's guns could carry further than his own, thus enabling the English to remain out of reach and yet pour in their raking broadsides. The light winds blew from the east, and the opposing navies fired and drifted and fired again, passing the Rame, passing Plymouth, and drifting up the coast. The engagement lasted till late on that Sunday afternoon, and later still[Pg 162] the Capitana, first fruits of the demoralising tactics of the English, was towed into Dartmouth harbour.

"Keepe then the sea, about in special,
Which of England is the towne wall,
Keepe then the sea that is the wall of England,
And then is England kept by Goddes hand...."

In other words: "God helps those who help themselves."


Above Crafthole lies Sheviock, on one of the creeks of the Lynher, with a good fourteenth-century church. The Dawneys were lords of Sheviock, and we have it from Carew that while the husband was building the church, his more practical wife was erecting a barn. When they came to compare accounts it was found that the lady's expenditure had exceeded her lord's by three half-pence, "and so it might well fall, for it is a great barn and a very little church."

The Eddystone

Henry VII., when Earl of Richmond, is said to have landed near Rame Head, and seeing that he had in his train such energetic Cornishmen as Sir Richard Edgcumbe and Sir Hugh Trevanion, men who could help him to a good few of their relatives and retainers, no doubt he was well advised. From the headland can be seen the Eddystone, which is nine miles south. This ridge of rocks is a mile long, but has only one small rock appearing above the water and has for ages been the terror of seamen. The first lighthouse was built in 1699, and four years later was swept away by a storm. A second, built in 1708, was burnt in 1755. The third, built by Smeaton in 1759, resisted the wind and weather for over a hundred years. The rocks on which it was[Pg 163] built were then found to be giving way, and it was removed to Plymouth Hoe, and a new and higher lighthouse built on another part of the ridge.

Mount Edgcumbe

The Rame forms the outer boundary of Plymouth Harbour; Penlee Point the western boundary of the sound; and a little to the north lies Mount Edgcumbe, which, though few people seem to know it, is in Cornwall. This interesting house was built in the time of Mary, but the park dates from Henry VIII., when the property came to the Edgcumbes by marriage. The grounds contain a great number of fortifications, from the battery and blockhouse built to oppose the Spanish Armada to more modern defences. The second Lord Edgcumbe, when a boy, was the friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a friendship which has resulted in the family portraits of three generations being painted by that artist. The house is as beautifully situated as the grounds are worth seeing and is on the end of a promontory several miles long and three wide.

The Tamar

The Tamar and Torridge spring from a rushy knoll on the eastern wilds of Morwenstow, three miles from the sea. From that, practically the most northern spot in the county, the larger river with some windings flows south, forming the eastern boundary of the county. It finally widens into the Hamoaze and, by way of Plymouth Sound, finds its way into the sea. Many are the bridges and ferries from the one county to the other, and every army that has come to invade, to subjugate, or even to punish the insurgent west, must have come by way of this peaceful stream. The first ferry is at Tor Point, where the Tamar is about a mile wide. It[Pg 164] was the old coach route and thither came the people who would catch the packet at Falmouth, thither also in yet earlier times came the Cornish pack-horses, laden with tin at their going and merchandise on their return. It was the highway when roads were only tracks and the boats in which men voyaged were of wattle covered with hide. Now it is crossed by a "steam bridge" which starts every quarter of an hour!

Where another ferry crosses the estuary of the Lynher is the church and village of Antony East. Carew, whose amusing Survey supplies us with so many stories of old Cornwall, is buried here, the doggerel verses on his monument having been found in his pocket, after his sudden death when at prayer in his study. There is also a memorial to Margery Arundell, which is of interest, as it is the only example in the county of a canopied brass.

Trematon Castle

When Robert, Duke of Normandy, died, Arlette, the tanner's daughter, was sought in wedlock by one Herlwin, and in due course she bore him two sons, Odo, afterwards Bishop of Bayeux, and Robert, whom she named after the unforgotten lover of her youth. These twain, worthy half-brothers of the stern and rigorous Bastard, rode one on each side of him at the battle of Hastings—that fatal battle which delayed for so many years the consummation of our English liberties! Over against the Normans were the equally loyal brethren of Harold, the King. But William's star was in the ascendant, and two at least of the sons of Godwin and Gytha were among the slain. As soon as the Conqueror was firmly settled on the throne that he had seized, he bethought him of his favourite brother and added to Robert's earldom by the Breton march the more famous[Pg 165] earldom of the kindred land of Cornwall. Robert of Mortain, riding gaily down to the west, found a wealth of manors awaiting him and two castles—afterwards to be mentioned in Domesday—those of Launceston and Trematon.

Trematon is on the Lynher which, rising near Five Lanes towards the centre of the county, flows steadily south until it is joined by the Tidy near Ince Castle, (the only sixteenth-century brick house in the county), and with a sharp easterly turn flows broadly and genially into the Tamar below Saltash. Above its placid waters rises the old keep, the keep that was built to keep the unruly Cornish in order. Tintagel, Restormel, and Launceston are ruinous, but Trematon is still in fairly good repair. The wall crossing the motte is of early date, probably thirteenth century, while the archway of the square entrance tower carries portcullis grooves, and the keep, once 70 ft. by 50 ft., is still about 30 ft. in height. The castle with its park and manor and the borough of Saltash was granted by Edward III. to the Dukes of Cornwall for ever. It is not generally known that in some respects this dukedom differs from all others. The eldest son of the reigning sovereign is the duke, and he comes of age as soon as he is born and preserves all the rights of the dukedom without patent of creation; the essential difference between this and the princedom of Wales being that the latter is specially conferred by the sovereign.

St. Germans

Not far from Trematon is St. Germans, birthplace of the famous Sir John Eliot, after whom Port Eliot was called. This worthy, though consistently loyal to Charles I., opposed that monarch's illegalities and died in the prison to which he was consequently consigned.[Pg 166] He was one of the noblest of the fine band of Cornishmen who came to the front at that period of the nation's history, an honest, just, and fearless man. Port Eliot, though charmingly situated where the Tidy widens into a lake, is otherwise only interesting on account of its pictures, of which there are several by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

St. Germans is thought to have been the seat of the ancient bishopric of Cornwall, but there is no evidence in support of the theory. The "see," or bishop-stool as it was called by our fathers, was nothing more than the seat of the bishop, the church in which it rested being his cathedral church. In early times the bishop was generally attached to some monastery or else he moved from place to place, taking his "seat" with him. In course of time, a suitable place being found, the see would become fixed, but there is no evidence of any fixed see in this county until 1877, when it was placed at Truro.


The following entry in the exchequer book at the time of the Domesday survey marks one of the contrasts between then and now: "In this manor there is a market on Sunday, but it is reduced to nothing on account of the Earl of Mortain's market, which is very near thereto." Robert, Earl of Mortain and Cornwall, held his market by his Castle of Trematon, and so we are confronted with two markets on a Sunday in Sabbatarian Cornwall! The boldness of the folk, with all those petrified pipers and fiddlers and merry maidens to point a moral! And to think that nothing happened.

A good deal of water has flowed under Tamar bridges since those days. In the reign of Henry VIII. Andrew Furlong, priest and schoolmaster at Saltash, was imprisoned[Pg 167] for having a Bible in his possession—and this is the tercentenary of that Bible's translation into the vulgar tongue. Verily times have changed.


From the Hoe to Saltash, low hills flank an estuary of great width which narrows sharply where Brunel's triumph, the Royal Albert Bridge, spans the flood. This great railway bridge, which was opened by the Prince Consort in 1859, cost over three-quarters of a million and is still one of the wonders of engineering.

Saltash suffered considerably during the wars between King and Parliament. It was taken and retaken any number of times, occupied by first one party and then the other, fortified, attacked, and generally treated with scant courtesy. It has several points of interest; an old shop dated 1584, fine corporation regalia, a church containing a very ancient font bowl (brought from Wadgworthy), and an exquisite silver vessel of 1624 now used as a communion cup.


This part of the county is noted for its strawberries, its gooseberries, and for a sweet kind of small cherry called mazzards.

"Let Uter Pendragon do what he can
The Tamar water will run as it ran,"

says the Celtic proverb, embodying no doubt some forgotten story. It is certainly a fine sheet of water above Saltash and he would be a bold man who would seek to divert its flow. Not far from the town is the manor of Moditonham, which was built not long after the Restoration by Colonel Waddon, who, from long residence[Pg 168] abroad, had gathered a love of foreign architecture, and who chose for his model a French château. John Grenville, Sir Beville's son (who attended Charles II. in all his wanderings, was sent by him to negotiate with Monk, and was King's messenger with his letter to the Parliament), had been made Earl of Bath and Governor of both Pendennis and Plymouth. He was the most loyal of Charles's subjects, but under James II. his long faith wavered, and it was at Moditonham that, with Colonel Waddon, the Deputy Governor of Pendennis, he treated with the commissioner of the Prince of Orange. His brother, Denis Grenville, Dean of Durham, less wise, but more loyal, followed James over seas and died in exile.


The river winds in such deep curves above Botus-fleming that Landulph is almost surrounded by its waters. In the quiet churchyard lies Theodore Paleologus, the last descendant of the Christian emperors of the east. Some years ago the vault in which he lies was accidentally opened and it was seen that he had been a tall man with a long head and a beard of unusual dimensions. During his lifetime this man, who might have been an emperor, had been reduced to such straits of poverty, that he had written to that soldier of fortune, the first Duke of Buckingham, praying to be taken into his service. In the letter, which has been preserved, he pathetically describes himself as a gentleman, born of a good house, a soldier from his birth, accomplished and worthy of the name he bears, but unfortunate in the reverse of fortune.


Above Landulph the curving flood gradually narrows into the semblance of an ordinary river and goes softly[Pg 169] between woods and orchards and farmlands till the finely placed grey towers of Pentillie, built by that eccentric charlatan, Sir William Tillie, come into view. It is a mistake to hurry through this scenery in the bustling steamer that ploughs up from Plymouth, gives you barely time to swallow a fine strawberry at Calstock and rushes back again. The Tamar, with its forest-clad declivities, its rocks and crags and cliffs, its long reaches of shining water fringed with deep green meadows and woodland, is essentially a river for the man with leisure. In the opinion of those who have seen both, the scenery far surpasses that of the belauded Dart. The production of arsenic has discoloured the water in parts, as the mine shafts have destroyed the sylvan charm of the shore, but this is only for a short distance above New Bridge, the New Bridge over which Essex so foolishly led his troops in 1644.


The Tamar is navigable for good sized vessels as far as the Weir Head, but that is away beyond first Cotehele and then Calstock, past Harewood, the most easterly part of the county, a peninsula which, like Landulph, is nearly an island, and even past the craggy Morwell Rocks.

Cotehele, a Tudor mansion, "antient, large, strong, and fayre," was once the chief seat of the Edgcumbe family. On the cliff can be seen the little chapel built by Richard Edgcumbe in gratitude for his escape from the myrmidons of Richard III. (see page 136). The chestnut trees in these woods are large and of great age, but suffered severely from the blizzard of 1891. Within the house is an interesting chapel with, under the pulpit, a small apartment, known as "the Leper's Room." In the vault, the mother of the first baron[Pg 170] was buried (1742) while in a trance. "The knave of a sexton, the night after the funeral, broke open the coffin with intent to steal the rings which adorned the body, when, to his utter alarm, she who was thought to be dead opened her eyes and began to move; thereat the thief fled amain as though chased by the awakened spirit, leaving his lanthorn behind him, which served to light the lady out of the vault."

The simple brevity of the account is delightful. No nerves on the part of the dame, whose motto must have been "noblesse oblige." We picture her stepping gracefully out of her narrow bed, taking that lanthorn, so conveniently left, and in her white shroud making her way to the supper-room, where no doubt her sorrow-stricken descendants were sustaining life with beef and beer and bread. Were they really and truly glad to see her? She must have been a woman, not only of great presence of mind, but of strong character, and we, at this distance, can look back admiringly; but as to her dutiful and obedient children—well, one wonders.

Hingston Down

The New Bridge leads directly out to the high land of Hingston Down, where before stannary laws were enacted and coinage towns assigned, the tinners of Devon and Cornwall met on Kit Hill and held their parliament. During the fourteenth century difficulties arose, and after that only the Cornish came to the old earthwork for their debates. An interesting light is shed, by a speech of Sir Walter Raleigh's in Parliament, when Lord Warden of the Stannaries, on the men and their earnings. In those days it would appear that the pay of a working tinner was 4s. a week, finding himself. Of this Sir Walter boasts as a great change for the better inasmuch as previously the tinner had received but half that amount.[Pg 171]

These hills used to be famous for their tin, hence the saying:

"Hingston Down well wrought
Is worth London Town, dear bought."

In 835 the Cornish were defeated by the men of Devon on this open ground, and some centuries later Charles I. crossed it on his way to try conclusions with Lord Essex. A little beyond Callington is St. Ive, one of the most lovely churches in the duchy. The east end and north side are fourteenth-century work of great merit, and the remainder is fifteenth century. The beautiful tower has clustered pinnacles, but the chief interest lies in the chancel window with its fine tracery, and the ogee-headed niches in the jambs of the scoinson arch, while some of the glass in the east window is of the same date as the tracery.

The river no longer curves in upon itself so frequently, but the landscape, deeply wooded and with the fine Carthamartha Rocks above the junction of the Inny with the Tamar, is softly beautiful. Greston Bridge crosses the river between Lezant and Lawhitton, and at Trecarrel House in the former, Charles I., with his army sleeping round him in the fields, lay on the night of August 1, 1644. At Lewannick, west of Lezant, a cresset stone has been preserved. This structure resembles a font, but with the top hollowed out into a number of bowls to contain oil and floating wicks. Before the days of matches, a light was kept perpetually burning in the church in order that the parishioners might resort to it, if by any chance their hearth-fires, always carefully sodded up, should be extinguished. Cresset stones are now rare. The one at Calder Abbey has sixteen bowls, but that at Furness resembles the one at Lewannick in having only five.[Pg 172]


In this parish, at a little distance from the church town, is the famous stone quarry of Polyfant. The greater number of the Norman arches in this part of the county are made from this stone, the quarry having been worked for over a thousand years. There are three old crosses in this neighbourhood, the one at Holloway being of unusual design, while the "four-holed" cross at Trelaske has projections at the neck. Trelaske is a well-wooded and picturesque country-place, and contains the remains of an encampment, while the view from Trelaske Beacon is extensive. A couple of miles above Greston Bridge the river takes a bend almost at right angles to its former course, and runs east and west until it reaches Poulston Bridge, across which Charles I. led his army that never-to-be-forgotten August and marched on Launceston.[Pg 173]



[Pg 174]

The Upper Reaches of the Tamar: Launceston: The Old Highways: St. Clether: Altarnun: Trebartha: The Trethevy Dolmen: The Cheesewring: St. Cleer: St. Neot: Dozmaré: Tregeagle: Lake Dwellings.

[Pg 175]

The Upper Reaches of the Tamar

Above Launceston, the Tamar soon has a companion in the shape of the Bude Canal, which was built at great cost, but is no longer worked. At Werrington, the river of that name joins the mother stream, after forming an artificial lake, and Werrington is also interesting as a place to which several bequests were made for the benefit of the poor and the support of a school. Many years ago the parish chest, which contained the donation deeds of these charities, was stolen from the church. After a long time and great hue and cry it was discovered built up into the wall of one of the houses and, of course, empty.

Boyton, a little north, is divided by the Tamar between Devon and Cornwall. Here lived Agnes Brest, brought to the stake 1557, the only one among the Cornish Protestants who was actually burnt. North Tamarton, like Boyton, has a piece of land on the other side of the river, but, unlike its neighbour, this portion was returned to Cornwall by an Act of Parliament in 1832. The church of St. Denis is worth a visit for the sake of the beautiful carving of the pulpit.


These upper reaches of the Tamar are well stocked with trout, and Launceston which, though not on the river, has a stream of its own, not to speak of a special and personal canal, is a good centre for anglers as well as a most interesting old ruin of a place. Its ancient name was Dunheved, and a castle of some sort was crowning this great hill when William the Conqueror gave Cornwall to his half-brother, Robert of Mortain. The most noticeable thing about these Cornish fortifications[Pg 176] is the frequency and ease with which they fell into a ruinous condition. Seeing that the walls are at their thinnest 3 ft. thick and elsewhere 10, one would have thought them capable of withstanding a little wind and weather. But the contrary was the case. The present ruins are mostly late Norman and Transition Norman of Henry III.'s time, but already in 1312, not a hundred years after they had replaced the older building, we find them calling urgently for repair; while, when the Black Prince came down to Cornwall in 1353 to make acquaintance with his duchy, for he took that as seriously and conscientiously as everything else, the stronghold was in a parlous condition. Yet it occupies a commanding position and was evidently a place of considerable strength. No doubt the good young Prince restored this Castle Terrible with its great wall—the base court—containing three gateways, one of which is still standing, and its dungeon of Doomsdale; this castle to which "the vill of Truro yearly rendered one laburnum bow and the manor of Scilly three hundred puffins!"

Imagine the arrival at the buttery hatch of those three hundred puffins! We think them a leathery, fishy kind of food, and nowadays the servants would leave in a body if required to eat them. But those were the good old times, and in guardroom and kitchen no doubt they had puffin roasted and puffin boiled and puffins in their pasties until the lady of the castle said to her lord: "My love, in this weather, of course, you can't expect those puffins to keep; really the Scillies are most inconsiderate, one hundred at a time would have been sufficient!" and then they had puffins potted and variously preserved until the garrison groaned in chorus the old grace:[Pg 177]

"Puffins young and puffins old,
Puffins hot and puffins cold,
Puffins tender and puffins tough,
I thank the Lord I've had enough."

At the time of the Civil Wars the Castle, nodding in age-long sleep and slow decay, was restored and fortified. Charles I. and his troops passed through the town in August 1644; and Richard Grenville, new-made Lord of Lostwithiel, was imprisoned here, when his turbulence had exhausted the royal patience. Now the county gaol is at Bodmin; but in those days of dungeons and fetters the folk were incarcerated in the fortress—what is now a playground being the place of execution.

The ruins are certainly the most interesting part of Launceston, and it has ruins not only of the ivy-grown castle, but of a priory founded in 1126. Its faint remains, with the exception of a doorway built into the White Hart Hotel, lie in a valley between the town and St. Stephen's. When the privilege of sanctuary was abolished except in churches and churchyards, Launceston was one of the seven towns that were made sanctuaries for life, except for heinous crimes. The result, however, was not altogether pleasant for the aforesaid towns, which, much to their dismay, presently found themselves harbouring all the criminals and rapscallions of the country. Preferring the room of these would-be citizens to their company, the towns petitioned James I. for "desecration" and the right of sanctuary was finally abolished.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene was built by Sir Henry Trecarrel in 1524 on the death of his only child. It is of granite, and has the peculiarity of being worked all over with picks instead of chisels. The ornamentation is florid and excessive. A granite carving of the Crucifixion, however, and other interesting monuments[Pg 178] form part of the churchyard wall. The vestry was once a shop that separated the tower from the church, which though it seems strange to our modern notions was by no means unusual in olden days.

The Old Highways

The oldest road in the county is no doubt the one that runs from Tor Point by way of the principal towns to the Land's End, but a great part of this ground has already been trodden. Another ancient road leaving Launceston goes via Bodmin Moors to Bodmin, branching off right and left at Altarnon. It then crosses Tregoss Moor, passes St. Enoder and Mitchell, and joins the first near Redruth. This road, running as it does like a backbone down the centre of the county, we propose to take. Egloskerry, Treneglos, and Trewen have churches which are mildly interesting. In the first are two good Norman tympana, one over the north doorway, representing a dragon, and one, now placed over the interior of the south doorway, carved with the Agnus Dei. Here also is a mutilated stone figure supposed to represent one of the Blanchminster (anglice, Blackmonster) family. At Treneglos is another fine Norman tympanum, having cut on it the tree of life with a lion on each side; and Trewen has a good mediæval bell inscribed, "St. Michael, pray for us!"

At Lancast J. C. Adams, the discoverer of the planet Neptune, was born. He was also the Senior Wrangler of his year at Cambridge, and one of the exceptions to the old rule that Senior Wranglers never distinguish themselves after leaving college. Another Cornish Senior Wrangler was Henry Martyn, the missionary, to whose memory the baptistery in Truro Cathedral is dedicated.[Pg 179]

St. Clether

Basil or Trebasil, in the parish of St. Clether, was for long the seat of the Trevelyans. Among the ruins of the house is a large moorstone oven, now used as a pigstye, while in the immediate neighbourhood are four granite crosses in a good state of preservation. The Trevelyans, like most of the Cornish gentry, were Cavaliers, and on one occasion a party of Roundheads made shift to seize the squire in his own house.

"If you come on," said he, "I will send out my spearmen against you."

As there seemed nothing at the back of this threat, come on they did. Whereupon he up with a teeming beehive and threw it among them. Not a man-jack waited for the onslaught of those spearmen.


At the junction of this northerly road with those running south to Liskeard and west to Bodmin, lies Altarnon, the largest parish in Cornwall. The patron saint is Non, the mother of St. David, and her church is full of interesting memorials of the past. It possesses not only an exceptionally large collection of sixteenth-century bench-ends, but an oak rood screen, which antiquarians declare to be "by far the finest specimen of fifteenth-century woodwork in Cornwall and one of the very best existing examples of perpendicular oak-work in England." There are also two paintings on wood (date 1620), a fragment of ancient glass in the east window, locally supposed to contain a portrait of St. Non, a communion rail of 1684, and other objects of interest. On several of the bench-ends may be seen carvings of the little corn man or "neck," that is to say, the figure that is plaited out of the heads of wheat[Pg 180] in the last sheaf at a harvest, and which is sometimes to be seen preserved over the winter in a cottage.

Nor is the carefully restored church all that Altarnon has to show. St. Non's Well was celebrated for the cure of lunacy, and Carew gives a startling account of the proceedings. "In our forefather's days, when devotion as much exceeded knowledge as knowledge now cometh short of devotion, there were many bowsening places for curing madmen; and amongst the rest one at Altarnunne, called St. Nunne's Pool, which saint's altar it may be, pars pro toto, gave name to the church. And because the manner of this bowsening is not so unpleasing to hear as it was uneasy to feel, I will deliver you the practice as I received it from the beholder.

"The water running from St. Nunne's Well fell into a square and close-walled plot which might be filled at what depth they listed. Upon this wall was the frantic person set to stand, his back towards the pool, where a strong fellow, provided for the nonce, took him and tossed him, and tossed him up and down, along and athwart the water, until the patient, by foregoing his strength, had somewhat forgotten his fury. Then was he conveyed to the church and certain masses sung over him; upon which handling, if his right wits returned, St. Nunne had the thanks, but if there appeared small amendment, he was bowsened again and again, while there remained in him any hope of life or recovery."

The well is now dry, and the "square and close-walled plot" in ruins, for which—lest it should occur to our medical men to try these old remedies—thanks be to whom thanks are due.


The Lynher which rises in Altarnon flows southward to Trebartha, where it forms a fine cascade and is crossed[Pg 181] by the road to Liskeard. Not far from this bridge is the manor of Treveniel, whose lord claimed the right, whenever the Mayor of Launceston mounted his horse on the occasion of the duke coming into Cornwall, of holding the stirrup. It seems strange that any gentleman should set store by this right, which is, after all, a relic of some forgotten form of tenure. What elderly children we remain, squabbling over our foolish plays, in spite of the twentieth century, the new humanitarianism, and all the other solemnities!

The Trethevy Dolmen

Before marching on Liskeard, Charles I. drew up his troops on the north side of Caradon Hill. The copper mines on the south-west of this moorland eminence have yielded ore to the value of several millions of money, but are no longer worked. Near them is the Trethevy dolmen, the largest in Cornwall, the cover stone being 14 ft. long and 9 ft. wide. An old writer described it as "a little house raised of mighty stone, standing on a little hill within a field." In comparison with some of the foreign dolmens, however, it is but small. Several of the French cromlechs are large enough to be converted into chapels, while one at Copenhagen, called the "Chamber of Giants," will allow of twenty people walking about in it.

The Cheesewring

To the north of Caradon Down are three stone circles known as the Hurlers and not far from them the remarkable granite stone known as the Cheesewring. This curious natural phenomenon stands on the side of a hill, the summit of which is encircled by a large entrenchment of unhewn stones, while over against it is Kilmar Tor[Pg 182] (1297 ft.), third highest peak in Cornwall. It looks like large blocks of tabular granite poised on smaller ones till the base of the Cheesewring is only about half the size of what it supports, this irregularity being due to weathering. A part of the top is broken. In consequence of careless quarrying close by, the pile has had to be artificially supported.

Antiquaries once thought the Cheesewring a memorial to the dead, from which in the course of centuries the covering earth had been washed away. In this neighbourhood there are many such cairns and monuments. A barrow near by was opened in 1818 and in it an extended skeleton and a gold cup were found. This cup was of Scandinavian type, 3½ in. high, and weighed nearly three ounces, which suggests that some sea rover found his last resting-place in these heathy solitudes.

St. Cleer

From near the Cheesewring a moorland road leads down to St. Cleer, which is divided from St. Neot by the lovely valley of the River Fowey. This parish contains a number of antiquities of varying ages, in fact, as has been said, "dead faiths and dead beliefs lie about this countryside like withered leaves in autumn." At Trewartha Marsh is a prehistoric settlement which probably belongs to the early iron age. Some of the oblong huts are small, but others are fully 50 ft. long, while in the group is what was possibly a public hall with stone benches along its sides, and at the end a chair with arms. A few hut circles and an ancient circular pound are also to be seen.

Doniert's stone, supposed to have been raised in memory of King Alfred's friend, Dungarth of Cornwall, is near Redgate; and in the village of St. Cleer is a Latin cross which stands beside a holy well reputed[Pg 183] to have been used like that at Altarnun for the "bowsening" or cure of maniacs. This well has a beautiful little chapel built over the clear spring.

"Tell me the street to Heaven.
This? Or that? Oh, which?
What webs of streets!"


The fifteenth-century tower of St. Cleer is unusually fine, and the church contains a Norman north doorway, and an early English font of great beauty.

St. Neot

To the north of both St. Cleer and St. Neot lie the wild and uncultivated moors, and the saints must have been brave men who sought the solitude of this granite strewn district. It is little wonder that strange, and to our thinking, absurd legends, should have grown up about them. St. Neot, as has been already said, was a cousin of King Alfred, and it appears that in those days even minor royalties worked for their living. The saint's oxen were stolen—he evidently farmed the land—so the stags of the neighbouring forest performed all the necessary labour, and for this good deed were endowed with a white mark wherever the yoke of labour had touched their brown hides! This and similar stories are depicted on one of the beautiful stained glass windows of the church.

This parish, like so many others in Cornwall, is rich in ancient crosses, there being no less than three, all having incised crosses on them, in the vicarage garden. In the churchyard is one on which is quite the finest interlaced work on granite in the county. It has been mounted on the stone, on which legend says St. Neot, who was a small man, stood in order to unlock the[Pg 184] church door. From which story it appears that in those days the churches were kept locked!

Little St. Neot must have been glad to welcome his great kinsman, when as the Book of Hyde (1200 a.d.) says: "Alfred went to Cornwall and repaired to the Church of St. Gueryr, where St. Neot reposes, for the purpose of alleviating his illness." Let us hope Neot was not too saintly to feel a cousinly interest in the King's health and that the two compared their widely differing lives and asked after old friends and what had been the history of this one and that; and that they ate in peace of the wheaten bread which St. Neot, after his farming operations, would be able to offer, and the fish with which another legend daily provided him, and so parted, the one to his burden of life, the other staying on, content with uneventful peace.

The glory of St. Neot's Church is its collection of stained glass. It dates from 1528, and though not quite the oldest in the county, it is said that none comparable with it for beauty and richness exist either in Cornwall or Devon.

The old road from Bodmin to Plymouth, that interesting prehistoric highway by which the early Cornish probably sent their tin for shipment abroad, runs through the village. Long before Alfred came to hob-nob with his cousin, before the Romans so much as knew that Britain existed, and while the mammoth in the valley of the Thames was still shaking his great hairy sides over the littleness of man, the rough stuggy ponies, whose descendants still feed on Goonhilly Downs, were carrying their heavy packs along this track, over the old clapper bridges, past heath, morass, forest, and settlement, at the call of need.[Pg 185]


On the high land north of St. Neot and a little beyond Brown Gilly (1058 ft.) lies Dozmaré, the only inland lake of Cornwall. This tarn, which by old writers was called the Dead Sea from the lifeless appearance of its waters, lies on an elevated plateau in a dreary sad-coloured region. It is nearly square and in circumference about a mile. Tennyson told Mr. J. J. Rogers that the Loe Pool was where he pictured the throwing away of the sword Excalibur. His description suits that and does not suit Dozmaré, while the moormen talk only of "Jan Tergeagle," that unjust steward who does penance for his evil deeds in so many parts of Cornwall. It is said that he has been set to bale Dozmaré—supposed to be bottomless—dry, and has been given to aid him in his task a limpet shell pierced with a hole through which the water drips as he lifts it.

It is perhaps "flogging a dead horse" to mention that in the hot summer of 1869 Dozmaré dried up, thus proving that it was far from bottomless. By disclosing a number of unfortunate trout and eels, it also showed it was by no means "dead." To a moorman the suggestion that Tregeagle has evidently accomplished his task, however, has but little weight. His imagination overleaps the trifling fact of the dry summer and its consequences, and only looks before and after. The pool seems mysterious, it has a healthy legend, and to that legend any one hearing the wind howl over these wastes on a December night may well give credence.

What was the origin of the moated grange? In Dozmaré is a subaqueous pile of stones on which once stood a crannog or lake dwelling, while many arrow heads and worked flints have been found in the neighbourhood. Did the folk who built their homes over a pool find the water so great a protection that their children going[Pg 186] east and west, and being unable to discover any more convenient lakes, built a stockaded house, and for its greater safety must by their personal labour surround it with the element in which they had always trusted? Is the moated grange then only the direct descendant of the lake dwelling?[Pg 187]



[Pg 188]

Brown Willy and Row Tor: Michaelstow, St. Tudy and St. Mabyn: St. Breward and Blisland: Helland: Bodmin: Lanivet: Mitchell: Cornish Names: Blackwater and Illogan: Redruth and St. Day: Carn Brea: Camborne: A Word in Farewell.

[Pg 189]

Brown Willy and Row Tor

Dozmaré Pool is only a short distance from the main road on the further side of which lie the chief heights of this moorland district, Row Tor (1296 ft.) and Brown Willy (1375 ft.). From Tintagel these hills look like gently rounded brown masses on the skyline, but on nearer approach the scene changes from cultivation to a waste of rock and bog and heath. Rowtor, which is the northernmost of the two peaks, is covered with masses of granite which have been weathered into fantastic shapes. It was looked upon by the ancients as a sacred hill, probably on this account, and there are remains of a stone circle on the slope and of other prehistoric monuments. In 1371 Sir Hugh Peverell had licence for a chapel of St. Michael at "Rogh-torre," of which the foundations can be traced, while the stone arch of the doorway is to be seen built into the Britannia Inn, near Camelford. This chapel was probably built on the site of an earlier edifice not necessarily Christian.

Brown Willy (Cornish, bron welli, the highest hill) is a beautiful conical hill rising from the Bodmin mass of granite. The beacon of loose stones on the summit was raised by the ordnance surveyors, and it is said that on a fine day the peak of Snowdon can be seen through field glasses. The Fowey rises at the foot of this hill and flowing through the moorlands between St. Cleer and St. Neot is, in spite of its beauty, most unkindly called the Dranes.

In the immediate neighbourhood of Brown Willy and Row Tor are several other tors and heights; Brê Down, to the north, 1125 ft.; Garrah, south of Brown Willy, 1086 ft., with hut-circles and other prehistoric remains. Not far from it is King Arthur's Hall (see[Pg 190] page 41). Catshole Tor is 1133 ft. and Toborough 1143 ft., while the beacon above Tresilon rises to 1174 ft.

Michaelstow, St. Tudy and St. Mabyn

To westward of these hills, on a good road leading down to Bodmin, are the parishes of Michaelstow, St. Tudy, and St. Mabyn, each of which possesses some interesting church silver, the last mentioned having, in particular, a standing vessel dated 1576, which is surmounted by a statuette and now used as a communion cup. This little place is situated amid romantic sylvan and river scenery, while its church on the top of a hill serves as a waymark. At Michaelstow, on the north of the church, are traces of a lean-to building with an opening into the chancel, and it has been suggested that this was an anchor hold. Near by is Helsbury Beacon, 700 ft. above sea-level, and crowned with a fine circular earthwork which has a barbican on the east.

St. Breward and Blisland

Over St. Breward Church antiquarians are in dispute, for some of them think it shows traces of an original cruciform Saxon church altered by a Norman arcade. It is not otherwise interesting; while Blisland, to the south, has a beautiful modern screen, some fine slate monuments, and good woodwork. To reach it the traveller passes Pendrief, a logan-stone, once so finely balanced that it was rocked by the wind. It is now immovable. The royal arms and the arms of Cornwall were engraved on it to commemorate the jubilee of George III. This neighbourhood is particularly rich in that puzzling antiquity, the stone circle. At Carwen there is not only one—and it might have been thought one would have[Pg 191] been enough for a place—but several, also others at Kerrowe Down, Challowater, and on Hawks Tor, the last-named example being 152 ft. in diameter.


Of Helland, principally known for its two circular earthworks called "The Castles," is told this story. The vicar being called away unexpectedly, left his neighbour of Blisland to make arrangements for the customary services. He did so with the Archdeacon, and in due course the Vicar of Helland received the following telegram:

"The Archdeacon of Cornwall is going to hell, and you need not return."


These moorland parishes cover about ten square miles. They are not entirely sterile, some parts being capable of cultivation and others giving good pasture for cattle; but, on the whole, the impression left is of a bracing and breezy waste, one of the happy spaces not yet brought under the dominion of man. And with never a turn the broad white road runs uphill and down dale and so to Bod Mynydd, the dwelling under the hill, the only name that appears on the earliest maps.

In Domesday Bodmin was the largest town in Cornwall, having actually sixty-eight houses, not to speak of a market. Curfew is still rung in Bodmin Church at 8 p.m., and being situated conveniently in the centre of the county the hilly, straggling town has gradually increased in importance. The Cornish were such an unruly folk, so fond of rebellion and blood-letting, that no town of theirs but had its vicissitudes; nor were the troubles of Bodmin only due to their restless energy. In 1348 certain carriers brought a string of pack mules laden[Pg 192] with rich merchandise into the town. The bales contained embroidered robes of velvet and satin, pearl-sewn gloves, plumed hats and silken hose, all at a reasonable price. Bodmin folk were used to smuggled goods, had even had the treasures of wrecked ships hawked through their streets. They saw no reason therefore to be cautious; and the goods were purchased, the carriers paid; and forthwith the men led their mules out of the little town and took the road back to Plymouth. The silver pennies were safe in their pouches, and it would be better not to wait.

Before long a sickness broke out among the people of Bodmin, a sickness unlike any that they had known before, which was not strange when we consider that the fine clothes had belonged to Londoners who had perished in the Black Death. News travelled slowly in those days and Bodmin had not known. But whereas when the carriers came there had been three thousand people in the town, when the sickness passed there were but half that number.

Bodmin suffered again after the religious rising of the people in Edward VI.'s reign. According to fact, Sir Anthony Kingston, Provost-Marshal, was sent down from London to punish the rebels. According to tradition he is said to have carried out his instructions with a grim pleasantry all his own. "Boyer, Mayor of Bodmin," runs the story, "had been amongst the rebels against his will; to him the Provost sent word that he would dine with him; therefore the Mayor made great preparations. A little before dinner the Provost took the Mayor aside and whispered him in the ear that an execution must be done in the town that day, and desired that a gallows might be set by the time dinner was over. Presently, when the meal was at an end, the Provost, taking the Mayor by the hand, asked to be led to the[Pg 193] place where the gallows was, and looking at it asked the Mayor if he thought it strong enough.

"'Doubtless,' said the Mayor.

"'Come then, my friend,' said the Provost with a bitter grin, 'get thee up speedily, for thou hast prepared it for thyself.'

"Whereat the Mayor, quivering with fear, cried: 'Surely, good sir, thou dost not mean what thou speakest?'

"'In faith,' said the Provost, 'I speak what I mean, for thou hast been a busy rebel.'

"So he was hanged to death."

Near Bodmin lived a miller who had been active in this same rebellion, and he, getting wind of these proceedings, told a sturdy fellow, his servant, that he had occasion to go from home; and therefore bid him to take his place for a time, and if any did come to inquire for the miller he should say that he was the miller and had been so for three years. In course of time the Provost came and was met by the servant, who said with consequence: "I am the master and have been so these three years."

"Lay hold on him, my men," cried the Provost, "and hang him on this tree."

At this the fellow, sore amazed, cried out the truth. "Nay, nay, my good friend," said the Provost, "I'll take thee at thy word, and if thou be-est the miller thou knowest thou art a rebel and if thou be-est the miller's man, thou art a lying knave; and howsoever thou canst never do thy master better service than to hang for him."

And so, without more ado, he was despatched.

During the Civil War Bodmin suffered so greatly that Charles II., passing through, said it was "the politest town he had ever seen, as one half of the houses appeared to be bowing and the other half uncovered." Hardly[Pg 194] the sort of comment that might have been expected, when it was owing to a kindness for him and his that the town was in so ruinous a condition, but if Charles's wit was in the right place the same can hardly have been said of his heart!

When Perkin Warbeck entrenched himself at Castle Kynock, an ancient camp on Bodmin Downs, his horse was said to have extended from Cardinham to Lanhydrock; and it was to Glynn, a place between those two, that Charles I. fled one night, when it had been borne in upon him that he and he alone stood between his people and peace; and that even the loyal and devoted were considering whether it would not be better to have him as a prisoner than as a leader. "Character is Fate" should have been the motto of the Stuarts, a family that acted foolishly because it was their nature so to act and to whom not the most terrible lesson of all could teach wisdom.

To the south of Bodmin is St. Lawrence, a place with gruesome associations. There were a fair number of leper hospitals in Cornwall, but it brings the fell disease near to us when we reflect that the last inmate of St. Lawrence only died (though not from leprosy) in 1800.


At Lanivet Church the communion plate is kept in a rare antique pyx of "cuir bouilli," said to be of the fourteenth century. In the churchyard is a Saxon tomb and a yet older inscribed stone; also a remarkable wheel cross, a four-holed cross with interlaced and scroll work, and a curious stone slab. St. Benet's, once a seat of the Courtenays, is built on the site of a reputed Benedictine monastery, the greater part of the front having belonged to the original building. The walls are about 4 ft. thick. Unfortunately the stones of the[Pg 195] cloisters, as well as the upper part of the tower, were used some years ago for building a farmhouse!


Near St. Enoder, not in itself interesting, is the old borough of Mitchell (formerly written Modeshole), which in the time of Edward I. was the property of Sir Walter de Raleigh. Though now an inconsiderable village it was said in Saxon days to have been a fair-sized town, and as a borough its reputation for corruption and quarrelling is black even compared with the other rotten boroughs of the county. Sir Walter Raleigh was member for Mitchell when he carried his motion for war against Spain; and in 1807 it was represented by Sir Arthur Wellesley, afterwards Duke of Wellington.

Cornish Names

Some of the Cornish saints have very curious names. On the Tamar is a church sacred to St. Dilp, but more remarkable is that of St. Erme, sacred to—Hermes. Saint Hermes, too! The god of thieves, that little old ancient run-about! 'Tis said the early Christians made good use of all existing material, such as the Venus month for the Virgin Mary and so forth, but—Saint Hermes! In this church is an interesting brass, with kneeling effigies and seven-quartered shield of arms, to Robert Trencreeke, "counseler at lawe," 1594.

Blackwater and Illogan

The long western road is approaching the busiest, greyest, and most populous part of the county—the mining district. Camborne and Redruth are the principal towns and in a sense rivals. Each has a school of mining, though Camborne's is now the school of the county and the great mine, the greatest and the oldest of all,[Pg 196] Dolcoath—where, in lively contrast with his work of the moment, Raspe wrote "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen"—belongs to the former. Before the road reaches either of these towns, however, it passes Blackwater, the birthplace of Passmore Edwards (1823). Though he was a well-known journalist as well as the owner of the Echo newspaper, he is most likely to be remembered as the donor of a large number of philanthropic institutions, beginning with the reading room which he built for his native village in 1889.

Not far south-west of Blackwater is Illogan, where the engineer Trevithick made the first steam carriage, known locally as "Cap'n Dick's Puffer."

Redruth and St. Day

A little north of Redruth lies St. Day, of the growth of which Norden, in the sixteenth century, left a charming description. "There was sometime a chappell now decayde, called Trinitye, to which men and women came in times past from far in pilgrimage: the resort was so great, as it made the people of the Countrye bringe all kind of provision to that place; and so long it continued with increase, that it grew to a kind of market and by that means it grew and continued a kind of market to this day, without further charter."

Of Redruth itself there is little to be said. Like so many Cornish towns, it consists of a chief street that is wearisomely long: it had its famous man, Murdock, who first used gas as an illuminant; and the first railway in Cornwall ran from Redruth to Hayle, being opened in 1835. To the east is Carnmarth, 750 ft. high, with a wide view, and on one side the Gwennap Pit, a mine subsidence, in which John Wesley often preached and in which the members of his denomination assemble in their thousands every Whit Monday.[Pg 197]

"Why," asked a "foreigner" of a Redruth man, "are the Cornish, and especially the miners, called Cousin Jacks?"

"Spoase Adam gave it out when he named t'other animals."

But Camborne asks the sister town a less civil question. "Who was it crowned the donkey?" And this had its origin in a certain playful disloyalty on the accession of George IV. Cornwall, as it might say of itself, has "never taken much stock in kings." It cropped the ears of Edward IV.'s pursuivant, killed Edward VI.'s commissioner, and crowned a donkey as George IV. Inconsistent county! For the Stuarts it must needs pour out blood like water and impoverish itself for generations!

Carn Brea

Between Redruth and Camborne is the rocky hill of Carn Brea (740 ft.). It consists of a rugged mass of granite crowned with huge piles of weathered rocks. In neolithic times it was undoubtedly a military station, large remains of the enclosing walls as well as many hut circles having been found. This hill has three summits, with the remains of an old castle on that towards the east, which castle is mentioned by William of Worcester in 1478. On the central peak is an ugly granite cross erected in 1836 by the county to the memory of their very good friend, Francis, Lord de Dunstanville and Basset. In one of the hut circles on the top of Carn Brea was found a cooking hearth now in the Truro Museum, whither went many of the old British and Roman coins, stone weapons, and tools, flint and quartzite spear heads, and socketed bronze celts unearthed on the hill. St. Ewny's Well is a romantic spot of repute for sanctity, while the "Giant's Well" halfway down the hill was said to be bottomless.[Pg 198]


Camborne Church is interesting for its carvings, those of the animals being comparable with the exquisite heads at Newlyn East. Near the porch is an ancient cross and below the communion table an early altar slab, formerly built into the exterior wall of the transept, but now restored. It is inscribed "Leviut jusit hec altare pro anima sua."

It is not easy to obtain permission to see more than the surface workings of the venerable Dolcoath, and even for them, in spite of the present-day harem skirt, the dress provided creates some disturbance in the mind of the average woman. She had not thought to see herself wearing the breeches—at least in public!

A Word in Farewell

Round this wonderfully indented coast, up the winding Tamar, and across the moors! You who have gone with me on this delightful journey, can you think of any county with a greater variety, historical, antiquarian, natural, to offer you for the good and bracing time of a holiday? And if in the years to come you find time to look back and in thought travel over the self-same ground, will you be able to do it without the longing—put into words by the poet who spent so much of his time at Camborne:

"To sleep and to take my rest,
The old sea here at my door,
The grey hills there in the West—
What can a man want more?"

[Pg 199]


The Green Book of St. Columb

In olden days the parish as distinct from the church was an entity with the power not only of appointing a sort of select vestry of twelve (was this number chosen because of the Apostles?) with wardens for the parish, for the poor, for the coffer, and for the pews, but of holding property such as sheep, cattle, and land. It lent money, sometimes at interest, sometimes gratis, it kept ladders, charging for their hire, and, above all, it encouraged Morris dancing and Robin Hood entertainments.

For instance, in 1616, we find in the Green Book, "The young men of the parish wh: played a stage-play, 3s. 4d."

In the list of parish goods set down in 1585 we have: "Ladder. Five coats for dancers. A Friar's Coat. Twenty-four dancing bells. A streamer of red moccado and locram. Six yards of white woollen cloth."

In most places the Morris dance was part of the pageant of Robin Hood, and that this was the case at St. Columb is shown by the "Friar's Coat." The bells were worn on a band at the knee, and the streamer or flag was of two materials, no longer known under those names, the moccado resembling coarse velvet, and the locram an equally coarse linen.

In many parishes a special collection for the "Robin Hood" penny is recorded, and in the Green Book we have:[Pg 200]

"Richard Beard oweth to be paid at Lady Day in Lent 10s. of Robin Hood's money; Robert Calwye oweth for the same 2s. 8d."

Hurling also received its due meed of parochial attention. In 1593 is an entry; "John Menheere and wife for a silver ball delivered to Tobye at his instance and upon his word 10s." But in those days the ball differed from that now in use inasmuch as it was gilt, and a year later we find that "Tobye" pays the 10s. for his "silver ball gilt."[Pg 201]


St. Michael's Mount

It is a place of historic and prehistoric interest. Here is the well by which

"Jack the valiant Cornishman
Did slay the giant Cormoran."

Jack being the Cornish variant of the better known Peredur of Wales and Ian MacAnnheil of Ireland.

Here, too, are the "Giants' Graves" which cover the victims of Jack's valour; and on the beach at the foot of the hill is the Chapel Rock, whereon once stood an oratory of which Leland speaks as "a little chapel yn the sande nere by the towne toward the Mount," and where it is said the pilgrims were wont to halt before making the ascent. But the Chapel Rock has a legend older than those connected with the building which once stood upon it. Cormoran having already carried off the top of the neighbouring hill of Trencrom to make the Mount itself, was in want of further stones wherewith to build his castle, and sent his wife to fetch them. She thinking any stone would do as well, fetched this from the nearer hill of Ludgvan-Lees. Angry at her conduct, the monster slew her with his mighty foot, and the great rock, rolling from her apron, fell where we now see it—a silent witness to the lady's strength and to the truth of the narrative.[Pg 202]

St. Keyne is said to have conferred on St. Michael's Chair the power of giving to that one of a married couple who first sits therein domestic mastery; such as can also be obtained by drinking from her more celebrated well near Liskeard. Curiously enough, legend and name have been transferred from the real chair of St. Michael on the western side of the hill to the ruined lanthorn of moorstone on the chapel tower, the lanthorn which in olden days was probably used as a lighthouse, as the grooves for the sheltering horn or glass can still be seen.

The little old church has a beautiful rose window at the east, and a yet more beautiful one let into the western wall; this latter was until recently hidden by the organ pipes. Some interesting alabaster bas-reliefs are also to be seen. The roof timbers of the refectory are very old, but the carving on them is modern, and the frieze Elizabethan. The place contains many interesting curios such as the clock from Godolphin House, a Jacobean bed, the Glastonbury chair, and a pair of silver candlesticks in which the prickets have given place to sockets, and which Lord St. Levan believes to be unique.

These details have been taken from a paper on St. Michael's Mount by Mr. Thurstan Peter.[Pg 203]


Adams, J. C., 178
Agnes, St., Beacon, 75
Agnes, St. (island), 102
Alfred, King, 138, 157, 183
Allen, Ralph, 141
Altarnon, 179
Antony East, 164
Arthur, King, 22, 37, 41, 67
Arundell, Humfrey, 67
Arundell, John, 74, 122-123
Margery, 164
Arwenack, 121, 126
Athelstane, 92, 105
Austell, St., 109, 139

Bacon, 97
Balfour, Sir Wm., 144
Ballowal, 84
Barras Head, 39
Bartine, 86
Basil, 179
Basset of Tehidy, Francis, 25, 76-77
Basset's Cove, 76
Bath, Earls of, 22
Beacon Cove, 64
Benet's, St., 194
Berkeley, Sir John, 137
Black Head, 137
Black Prince, The, 38, 148, 176
Blackwater, 196
Blake, Admiral, 105
Blazey, St., 141
Blisland, 190
Boconnoc, 153
Bodmin, 50, 177, 191
Bodrugan, 135
Bolleit, 84, 92
Bolster, 75
Boscastle, 34-35
Boscawen-Un, 84
Bosporthennis, 84
Bossiney, 36
Boswavas Moor, 86
Botallack Mine, 91
Botreaux Castle, 34
Boyton, 175
Bradock Downs, 153
Bray Hill, 50
Breage, 108
Brê Down, 189
Breock, St., 52
Breward, St., 41, 190
Bridge, Royal Albert, 167
Brown Gilly, 185
Brown Willy, 41, 189
Bryher, 102
Brunel, 167
Buckingham, first Duke of, 168
Bude, 21, 27
Bude Canal, 175
Budock, 121
Burngullow, 139
Buryan, St., 92
Buttris, 117

Cadgwith, 116, 117
Caerhayes Castle, 135
Callington, 171
Calstock, 169
Cambeak, 22, 33
Camborne, 195, 198
Camelford, 41
Cape Cornwall, 84
Carantocus, St., 72
Carbis Bay, 78
Carglaze Mine, 140
Carminows, The, 43
Carnanton, 63
Carn Brea, 197
Carne, 134
Cammarth, 196
Carthamartha Rocks, 171
Carwen, 190
Castle-an-Dinas, 67
Castle Dor, 144
Castle Goff, 42
Castle Killibury, 51
Castle Point, 33
Catshole Tor, 190
Challowater, 191
Chapel Carn Brea, 86
Charles I., 69, 78, 117, 142, 171, 177
II., 69, 105, 117, 122, 125, 193
Charlestown, 139
Cheesewring, The, 134, 181
Chûn, 84
Clarendon, Lord, 51
Cleer, St., 157, 182
Clether, St., 179
Clicker Tor, 158
Cligga Head, 75
Clovelly Dykes, 21
Colan, 68
Colenso, the fighting Bishop, 139
Columb Major, St., 51, 67
Minor, St., 67, 69
Porth, St., 70
Condora, 118
Constantine Bay, 54, 59-61
Cookworthy, Wm., 109
Coombe Valley, 24
Cotehele, 136, 169
Couch, 150
Coverack, 117
Crackington Cove, 33
Crafthole, 161
Crantock, 71-72
Cromwell, Oliver, 26, 51
Cruel Coppinger, 48
Cubert, St., 71, 73
Cuby, 75

Davy, Sir H., 129
Dawney, 162
Dawns Maen, 84
Day, St., 196
Delabole, 37, 43
Dennis, St., 140
Digby, Lord, 147
Ding Dong Mine, 106
Dingerein, 133
Dizzard, 22, 33
Dodman, The, 137, 161
Dolcoath, 196
Dolphin Town, 104
Doom Bar, 54
Dozmaré, 185-186
Drake, Sir F., 37, 161
Dranes, The, 189
Druid's Hill, 147
Duloe, 159
Dungarth, King of Cornwall, 157, 182

Eddystone, The, 162
Edgcumbe, Mount, 163
Edgcumbe, Sir Rd., 136, 169
Edward the Confessor, 72
Edward I., 134
III., 148, 165
IV., 51, 148
VI., 67, 192
VII., 91
Edwards, Passmore, 101, 196
Egbert, 92, 138
Egloshayle, 52
Egloskerry, 178
Eliot, Port, 165
Sir John, 165
Elizabeth, Queen, 121, 149
Endellion, St., 50
Enoder, St., 195
Enodoc, St., 49
Epitaphs, 44, 68, 115, 117
Essex, Lord, 26, 121, 142, 169
Eval, St., 62

Fairfax, Sir T., 26, 122
Fal, The, 117, 127
Falmouth, 121-126
Feock, 127
Flushing, 125
Foote, Samuel, 129
Forrabury, 35
Fowey, 121, 139, 142
The, 189
Furlong, Andrew, 166

Gafulford, 41
Gannel, The, 71
Garrah Tor, 189
Genys, St., 33
George, St., 160
Germans, St., 165-166
Germoe, 109
Gerrans, 133
Giant's Hedge, The, 152
Glasney College, 126
Glendorgal, 70
Godolphin, 104, 108
Francis, 69, 96
Godrevy, 77
Golant, 147-149
Golden, 134
Goonhilly Downs, 113, 116, 184
Goring, 143
Goran, 137
Goss Moors, 68
Greenamore, 28
Grenville, Sir B., 21, 153
Denis, 168
Sir J., 26, 105, 168
Sir R., 21, 38
Sir R., Jr., 26, 51, 142-145, 177
Greston Bridge, 172
Gribben Head, 142
Gueryr, St., 157
Gulf Stream, 103
Gunwalloe, 113-114, 117
Gwallen Downs, 141
Gweek, 117
Gwennap Pit, 196
Gwithian, 75, 86

Hall House, 143, 149
Halsetown, 90
Halzaphron Cliffs, 114
Hamoaze, 163
Harewood, 169
Harlyn Bay, 56
Hartland, 48
Hawker, Rev. Robert, 22, 23, 27, 37, 152
Hawks Tor, 191
Hayle, 78, 83
Helford River, The, 117
Heligan House, 138
Helland, 191
Helsbury Beacon, 190
Helston (North Cornwall), 42
(South Cornwall), 110-112, 124
Henna Cliff, 22
Henry VII., 136
VIII., 107, 121, 135, 163, 166
Hensbarrow, 139, 140
Hermes, St., 195
Herodsfoot, 158
High Cliff, The, 33
Hingston Down, 170
Hobby Horse, The, 54
Hoe, The, 167
Holloway, 172
Holywell Bay, 72
Hopton, Sir Ralph, 25, 26
Housman, Clemence, 39
Howard of Effingham, Lord, 161
Hurlers, The, 181

Illogan, 196
Ince Castle, 165
Inscribed stones, 40, 106, 198
Irving, Sir Henry, 90
Ives, St., 77, 79, 88, 89, 90, 110
Ive, St., 171

James I., 177
II., 152, 168
Jordans, 34
Just, St., 91

Kea Bridge, 43
Keigwin Arms, 97
Kelly Rounds, 51
Kelsey Head, 73
Kenidjack Cliff, 91
Kennack, 117
Kerrowe Down, 191
Keverne, St., 111, 117
Kew, St., 50
Keyne, St., Well of, 158-159
Kieve, St. Nechtan's, 37
Kilkhampton, 21-22
Killigarth, 151
Killigrews, The, 115, 121-26
Kilmar Tor, 181-182
Kingsley, Charles, 24, 112
Kingston, Sir A., 67, 192-193
Kit Hill, 170
Knill's Monument, 83
Kynance, 114

Lady Nance's Well, 69
Lambrenny, 36
Landewednack, 116
Land's End, 93, 94
Landulph, 168
Laneast, 178
Langarrow, 72
Lanherne, Vale of, 62, 67
Lanhydrock, 142, 145
Lanivet, 194
Lanreath, 153
Lansallos, 150, 161
Lansdowne, 26
Lanteglos, 42, 150
Lanyon Quoit, 86
Launcells, 28
Launceston, 175-178
Lawhitton, 171
Lawrence, St., 194
Lelant, 83
Lerrin (or Lerryn), 147, 152
Levan, St., 95
Levant Mine, 91
Lewannick, 171
Lezant, 171
Liskeard, 157
Little Petherick, 53
Lizard, 113
Loe Pool, 111, 112
Longships Lighthouse, 93
Looe, 152, 159-60
Looe Island, 160
Lostwithiel, 144-145
Lovebond, 51, 52
Lowry, H. D., 79, 94, 129, 146, 198
Luxulyan, 141
Lynher, The, 164, 180
Lyonesse, 101

Mabyn, St., 190
Madron, 98
Marazion, 83, 101
Marhamchurch, 22, 28
Marsland Mouth, 21, 22, 33
Martin's, St., 102
Martyn, Henry, 178
Mary's, St., 102
Maurice, Prince, 142
Mawes, St., 121, 133
Mawgan (Meneage), 117
(Pydar), 63
Porth, 62
Mayne, Cuthbert, 134
Menacuddle, 141
Menagew, The, 139
Meneage, 113
Menheniot, 158
Merlin, 96
Merryn, St., 60-61
Mevagissey, 138
Michael's Mount, St., 97, 101, 107-108, 201-202
Michaelstow, 190
Minster, 21, 35
Minver, St., 50
Mitchell, 178, 195
Moditonham, 167-168
Morth, 151
Morwell Rocks, 169
Morwenstow, 22-24, 27
Mount's Bay, 106
Mousehole, 95-97
Mulfra Quoit, 86
Mullion, 109, 113-115
Murdock, 196

Nare Point, 117
Navax Point, 77
Neot, St., 157, 183-184
New Bridge, 169
Newlyn, 97-98
Newlyn East, 198
Newquay, 71
North Tamarton, 175

Olaf of Norway, 105
Opie, John, 75, 129
Otterham, 35

Padstow, 48, 53, 54-55
Paleologus, Theodore, 168
Par, 139, 142, 143
Park Head, 62
Pawton, 53
Payne, Anthony, 22, 24, 26
Pelynt, 152
Pencarrow Head, 33
Pencarne, 138
Pendeen, 84
Pendennis Castle, 121
Pendower, 133
Pendrief, 190
Pengersick Castle, 110
Penhale Point, 73
Penlee, 161
Penolver Point, 116
Penrose, 112
Penryn, 126
Creek, 125
Pentewan, 138
Pentillie, 168-169
Pentire, 22, 48-49
Pentreath, Dolly, 95-97
Penwith, 94
Penzance, 98, 113
Perran, 86
Perranporth, 75
Perranuthnow, 101
Perranzabuloe, 73
Phillack, 78
Pinnoc, St., 153
Piran, St., 73-74
Pitt, 153
Place House, 149
Poldhu, 115
Polperro, 150, 161
Polruan, 143, 149
Polyfant, 172
Pope, Alexander, 141
Pordenack Rock, 94
Port Gaverne, 47
Porthalla, 117
Porthcothan, 62
Porthcurnow, 86, 95
Porthgwarra, 94
Porthmear, 62
Porthoustock, 117
Porthpean, 141
Port Isaac, 47
Port Quin, 47
Portreath, 76
Poughill, 25, 28
Poulston Bridge, 172

Raleigh, Sir W., 124, 170, 195
Rame, The, 161, 163
Head, 136, 161-162
Redgate, 157
Redruth, 195-197
Restormel Castle, 144, 145-146
Reynolds, Sir J., 163, 166
Rialton, 69
Richard III., 135
Robartes, Lord, 142
Robert of Mortain, 164, 166, 175
Roche Rock, 140
Rockferry, 55
Rocky Valley, 37
Round, The, 74
Row Tor, 189
Rye, 147

Saltash, 165, 167
Sancreed, 92
Scilly Isles, 92, 93, 101, 106
Sennen Cove, 93
Seven Stones Lightship, 93
Sheviock, 162
Skippon, Maj.-Gen., 144
Smith, Mr., 104
Stamford Hill, Battle of, 24-25
Stannary Courts, 127-128
Stephen's, St., 139, 177
Stepper Point, 55
Stowe, 21, 24-26, 54
Stratton, 22, 24-26, 28, 29
Straughan, Col., 147
Swan Pool, 112

Talland, 150, 151
Tamar, The, 21. 163 et seq.
Teath, St., 43
Tehidy, 76
Tennyson, Lord, 27, 94
Tidy, The, 165
Tillie, Sir Wm., 169
Ting Tang Mine, 106
Tintagel, 22, 37-40
Toborough, 190
Tol-Pedn, 94
Tonacombe, 24
Tor Point, 163
Torridge, The, 163
Trebartha, 180
Trebarwith, 41
Trecarrel, Sir Henry, 177
House, 171
Treffry, 121, 149
Treffry, Elizabeth, 149
Treffry's Aqueduct, 141
Tregarrick, 140
Tregeagle, John, 52, 185
Tregian, Francis, 134-135
Tregony, 134
Tregoss Moor, 178
Tregothnan, 127
Trelaske Beacon, 172
Trelawney, John, 151
Jonathan, 151
Trelowarren, 117
Trematon Castle, 164
Treneglos, 178
Trerice, 71, 74-75
Treryn Dinas, 84, 86
Tresco, 102
Tresco Abbey, 104-105
Tresillian Bridge, 52
Tresparret Down, 33
Trethevy Dolmen, 181
Trevalga, 36
Trevalgue, 70
Trevanion, Hugh, 136
Trevellick, 104
Trevelyan, 101, 179
Trevemper, 72
Treveniel, 181
Trevethan, 62
Trevose Head, 33, 48, 58-59
Trewartha Marsh, 182
Trewen, 178
Trewhiddle, 138
Trewithian, 133
Trewoofe, 84
Truro, 125, 127-129, 166
Tudy, St., 190
Turner, 94

Veep, St., 147
Veryan Beacon, 133
Victoria, Queen, 127

Waddon, Col., 167-168
Wadebridge, 26, 51, 52
Wadgworthy, 167
Wadham College, 158
Warbstow Barrows, 35
Wardour Castle, 63
Warna, St., Well of, 102-103
Waterpit Downs, 35
Wedgwood, 139
Week St. Mary, 28
Weir Head 169
Wellington, Duke of, 141, 195
Werrington, 175
Wesley, John, 89, 196
Wheal Owles, 91
Whitesand Bay, 93
Widemouth Bay, 33
Willapark Head, 36
Winchelsea, 147
Winnow's Down, St., 143, 147
Wolf Rock Lighthouse, 93
Wolveden, 134
Woolley Downs, 21
Worwas Hill, 83

Zennor, 85, 90, 110


[1] The fairies seem to be identical with the Tuatha da Danaan of Ireland.

[2] Appendix A. See pp. 199-200.

[3] Dinsul. There is good reason to think Sul = the Sul of Bath "Aquæ Sulis," and this again the "Sally, Sally Waters" of our nursery game. Many of her attributes have been taken over by St. Keyne.

[4] Appendix B. See pp. 201-2.

[5] Mary Mowes, i.e. the Virgin.