Mousehole, Cornwall

Mousehole,  Cornwall

Mousehole is three miles west of Penzance. Pronounced Mouzell, it is another village with a long and colourful history, full of narrow lanes and granite cottages. Mousehole in the middle ages was a departure point for pilgrims to the Holy Land and to Santiago di Compostella. Today the village is a well preserved gaggle of granite and slate cottages, and cobbled, winding, narrow street. Parking is limited and visitors are asked to park on the edge of the village and to walk in.

Mousehole was raided and sacked by the Spanish in 1595. Four galleys with 200 Spanish soldiers, burned the village to the ground, with only the 15th century Keigwin Arms (no longer a pub) surviving. Outside the Keigwin Arms is a plaque with the wording. "Squire Jenkyn Keigwin was killed here 23RD July 1595 defending this house against the Spaniards."

The local culinary specialty is Stargazy Pie, where the heads of the fish stick out from the pie. The pie is eaten on Tom Bawcock's Eve, which falls on the day before Christmas Eve. The story is that once upon a time the sea was too rough for a long period for any of the local fishing boats to put out to fish, and the people of the village faced starvation. Tom Bawcock took his boat out in spite of the weather and caught enough fish to feed the village. The catch was made into Stargazy Pie, where the fish are cooked heads and all, with the heads placed so that they look up (or starwards)

Dolly Pentreath, died here in 1777, and is reputed to be the last person to speak nothing but Cornish. There is a memorial to her in the Paul churchyard (Paul's church of St Pol de Leon dominates the surrounding countryside), a small village near Mousehole. Recently the ancient Celtic language of Cornish has enjoyed somewhat of a revival.

The small village had the Mousehole Lifeboat disaster in 1981 when the local lifeboat, the Solomon Browne, was sunk while trying to rescue the crew of the Union Star. Both lifeboat crew and coaster crew were lost with all hands in the hurricane force winds. The lifeboat-men were giving assistance to Union Star whose crew reported engine failure eight miles east of Wolf Rock Lighthouse, south-west Cornwall.

The nearly circular harbour is protected from the sea by two breakwaters. In winter, the harbour entrance can be closed by wooden beams to keep tidal surges out, and prevent the village being flooded.One of the breakwaters was constructed in 1393, and the south arm of the harbour is believed to date from 400AD. Just outside the harbour entrance is St Clement's Isle - a small rocky island, once the home of a hermit.

Dylan Thomas spent his honeymoon here in 1938, and Mousehole is thought to be Llareggub in Under Milk Wood.

Mouosehole Cat

The Mousehole Cat . The author Antonia Barber tells the story about Fisherman Tom Bawcock and his cat Mowzer and how they save their Cornish village from starvation. From the picture book by Antonia Barber and Nicola Bayley.


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