Cornwall’s Connections to the Crew of the Mary Rose

mary rose

On 19th July 1545 the Mary Rose, the pride and joy of King Henry VIII and the flagship of the Royal Navy, sank during the Battle of the Solent. Of the roughly 500 crew on board only 34 would survive. It was a national disaster and a serious embrassment for the Crown. It is said […]

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Napoleon Bonaparte in Cawsand Bay

In July 1815 the captured Napoleon Bonaparte was waiting to hear his fate on board HMS Bellerophon. After his escape from Elba the previous year and subsequent defeat at Waterloo the British Government was debating what should be done with the ex-emperor. He had arrived at Plymouth Sound on the 26th July but his presence […]

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Hunting for Cornish Sea Monsters – the Legend of the Morgawr

Legends of sea serpents and strange creatures from the deep are found across the globe. In Cornwall, a region surrounded by water, those stories of sea monsters date back hundreds of years. But it appears that there have been certain periods in history and certain locations where sightings have been much more frequent. This article […]

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St Nonna’s Well & a 17th century Cure for Madness

“Once upon a time, as all good stories begin, St Nonna, the reputed mother of St David happened upon this pleasant place . . .” The Cornwall Village Book, Cornwall W.I., 1991 The moorland village of Altarnun nestles in a river valley. Idyllic, secluded and peaceful. The ancient church, often called ‘the cathedral of the […]

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Building the Royal Albert Bridge

The opening of Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge in May 1859 marked a turning point in Cornwall’s history. No longer cut off from the rest of the country by the wide, watery barrier of the River Tamar, from that moment on travel to the region became quicker and easier than ever before. Within just a few […]

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Mary Newman of Saltash – Wife of Sir Francis Drake

On 4th July 1569 St Francis Drake married his young sweetheart Mary Newman in St Budeaux Church on the Tamar estuary. While Drake was to become a household name and the greatest seaman of the Elizabethan Age his Cornish wife remains an obscure figure. Something I hope to rectify that a little here. Mary Newman […]

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The Disastrous Final Voyage of the Cromdale


Imagine yourself standing on the clifftop at Bass Point, not far from the Lizard Lighthouse. It’s May, the sea is smooth, you can hear gentle waves flopping onto the rocks below. But it’s not a clear night. There is a thick, damp mist hanging in the almost still air. Then, quite suddenly, a ship in […]

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‘Jack the Ripper’ in Cornwall

In the Whitechapel district of London in 1888 a series of grisly murders were terrorising the population and confounding the police. Far from the capital the ripples of those terrifying events were making themselves felt in the most unlikely of places – the quiet towns and villages of Cornwall. The fear was palpable – could […]

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Saints, Kings & Mermaids – Discovering Breage’s Medieval Wall Paintings


In medieval Cornwall, as in the rest of Britain, the majority of ordinary folk were unable to read and write. Bible stories and Christian teachings were learnt and understood through oral repetition in church services, watching religious plays such as the Ordinalia and through colourful, attention-grabbing wall paintings. While most of these ancient murals have […]

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