‘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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Anne Basset – Mistress of Henry VIII & Almost Queen of England

In 1528 Honor Basset found herself in need of a husband. John Basset had just died at the age of 66 and Honor, an ambitious woman from an ancient Cornish family, knew only too well the advantages that a good marriage could bring, not just for her but for her children too. It is unlikely […]

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Burial Place of Theodore Paleologus – Soldier, Assassin & Descendant of the Last Byzantine Emperor

On the 29th May 1453 the last emperor of Byzantium fell in battle at Constantinople. Emperor Constantine Paleologus had been fighting the Turkish army led by Mehmet the Conqueror and his death marked the end of an ancient Royal Dynasty, of an empire that had lasted a thousand years and it forced his surviving family […]

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The Mystery of the Gold Bars of Pentreath Beach


This story is part recorded fact and part local legend. And what makes it all the more fascinating is that this tale of buried treasure didn’t happen back in the mists of time. It happened only around 50 years ago. On the 15th November 1973 the West Briton newspaper ran a front page story about […]

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The Cornish Statue Menhir – a Scilly Oddity

In 1944 the Reverend Henry Ardern Lewis arrived on St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly and alongside his duties for his new congregation, like so many clergymen of that time, he began dabbling in archaeology. And he was certainly spoilt for choice, St Martin’s is peppered with prehistoric remains, from standing stones to chambered cairns. During […]

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A Penzance Ghost Story – Skeleton under the floor

“murder cannot be hid long . . . the truth will out.” Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1596 In October 1813 a group of workmen were employed to take down a derelict building near the old quay in Penzance. As they began lifting the stone slabs covering the ground floor they made a grisly discovery. […]

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The Daymark & the Grave of an African Boy, St Martin’s

Clearly visible for miles around the Daymark is undoubtedly the most iconic structure on St Martin’s. Wherever you are on the island somehow it feels like it is drawing you towards it. Despite the Scillonian boatman trying to convince gullible visitors that the stripped tower is the cone of a rocket it is in fact […]

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Electric Cornwall – Street Lighting Powered by Pilchards


According to local legend in 1895 Mevagissey became the first place in Cornwall, maybe even one of the first places in the UK, to have electric street lighting. Amazingly the harbour’s new power station was run entirely on pilchard oil. But this innovation is actually less surprising once you learn that this small fishing community […]

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The Ruin of Berry Tower, Bodmin

berry tower

Bodmin is one of the oldest settlements in Cornwall and the only Cornish town of any size to be mentioned in the Domesday Book. This ancient settlement is said to have been founded by two saints. The first, St Guron built a hermit’s cell in the valley sometime in the early 6th century and then […]

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