Captain James Williams – a Daring Smuggler of St Ives.

Today the small fishing port of St Ives is best known for its beaches, its vibrant art scene and its ice cream but in the 18th and 19th centuries it was something of a smuggler’s paradise. And as was so often the case in Cornwall it seems the whole community was in on the enterprise […]

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The Keigwin Arms, Mousehole – ghosts, smuggling & bad behaviour!


The Keigwin Arms, once known as Keigwin Manor, stands in the heart of Mousehole and is reputedly the oldest building in this historic fishing village. It is much photographed because of its age and elegant fa├žade but this particular house also has many interesting tales to tell. It has seen a great deal over the […]

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Gurnard’s Head – Ancient Stronghold & Medieval Hermitage

gurnard's head

The jutting, rugged finger of rock known as Gurnard’s Head has to be one of my favourite places in Penwith. From its dramatic heights I have watched gannets diving for fish and seen sleepy seals bottling; sometimes I have picnicked on warm grass in golden, evening sunshine and sometimes hidden behind rocks slick with rain […]

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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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S. J. ‘Lamorna’ Birch & the Artists At Lamorna Cove

When we imagine the Penwith peninsula in the 19th century it can seem almost as if the cliff tops, beaches and harbours must have been overrun with artists at their easels. So many were attracted here by the mild climate, the beautiful landscapes and that famous ethereal light that Cornwall, especially the far west, developed […]

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The Hayle to Marazion Canal

Hayle marazion canal

“The two seas, the waters of St Ives Bay separated only by a narrow stretch of land from the ocean where St Michael’s Mount guards Marazion. Cut a canal and western Cornwall is an island.” Claud Williamson shaw, The Cornishman, 20th September 1906 For a number of years during the late 19th and early 20th […]

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The Ordinalia at St Just 2021 – Plen an Gwari hosts Britain’s Oldest Plays

This autumn something really rather special is happening down west. A trilogy of six hundred year old Cornish ‘Mystery Plays’, known as The Ordinalia, will be performed in St Just in Penwith. These three powerful, biblical plays are the oldest surviving plays in Britain and will appropriately be performed in arguably the country’s oldest working […]

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Legends of Land’s End – Dr. Syntax, Dr. Johnson, Lyonesse & the Armed Knight

The legendary headland now known as Land’s End is probably Cornwall’s most famous landmark. Whether you love or hate the recent development there no visit to the area is complete without standing on that towering cliff top at the very tip of mainland Britain. For hundreds of years ‘Pilgrims’ have flocked to here for the […]

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The Mysterious Disappearance of John Davidson

A strange thing happened to me a couple of years ago, I bought a secondhand book exactly 110 years to the day that a man mentioned in it had died – the 23rd March. The book was The Oxford Literary Guide to the British Isles, published in 1977. I had started leafing through it in […]

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Mulfra Quoit

mulfra quoit

You can find Mulfra Quoit in ‘the land of granite and gorse’, high up on a hill overlooking the wide sweep of Mounts Bay. On a clear, bright day a finer location would be hard to imagine. Of the quoits found in Penwith this is one of the smallest but what it lacks in size […]

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