Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Poperro Feast of St Peter

Image courtesy of Polperro News

Jonathan Couch describes the traditional midsummer festivities and the harbour beach fire in his 'History of Polperro'

"On the eve of the fair is the prefatory ceremony of a bonfire. The young fishermen go from house to house and beg money to defray the expenses. At night-fall a large pile of faggots and tar-barrels is built on the beach, and amid the cheers of a congregated crowd of men, women and children, (for it is a favour never denied to children to stay up and see the bonfire), the pile is lighted. The fire blazes up, and men and boys dance merrily round it, and keep up the sport till the fire burns low enough, then they venturously leap through the flames. It is a most animated scene; the whole valley lit up by the bright red glow, bringing into strong relief front and gable of picturesque old houses, each window crowded with eager and delighted faces; while around the fire is a crowd of ruddy lookers-on, shutting in a circle of impish figures leaping like salamanders through the flames. The fire was no doubt, originally intended to celebrate the solstitial feast, but was in later times, deferred until the festival of St Peter".

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Devil in Polperro

Robert Hunt recorded the following about the Devil in Polperro:

In the slate (Killas) formations behind Polperro is a good example of a fault. The geologist, in the pride of his knowledge, refers this to some movement of the solid mass–a rending of the rocks, produced either by the action of some subterranean force lifting the earth-crust, or by a depression of one division of the rocks.

The grey-bearded wisdom of our grandfathers led them to a conclusion widely different from this. The mighty ruler of the realms of darkness, who is known to have an especial fondness for rides at midnight, “to see how his little ones thrive,” ascending from his subterranean country, chose this spot as his point of egress. As he rose from below in his fiery car, drawn by a gigantic jet black steed, the rocks gave way before him, and the rent at Polperro remains to this day to convince all unbelievers.

Not only this, as his Satanic majesty burst through the slate rocks, his horse, delighted with the airs of this upper world, reared in wild triumph, and, planting again his hoof upon the ground, made these islands shake as with an earthquake; and he left the deep impression of his burning foot behind. There, any unbeliever may see the hoof-shaped pool, unmistakable evidence of the wisdom of the days gone by.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Tintagel Sea Serpent

Above: Looking towards Barras Nose and Gullastem, from Tintagel Island

In September 1907 the Aberdeen Journal reported a sighting of a sea serpent by the Rev. T. C. Davies of Sheffield and Mr E Dodgson, Chaplain at Jesus College Oxford. They first sighted the creature about 11.45.am on September 12th. The report came in a letter to the Western Morning News. They were seated on the edge of the cliff at Gullastem, close to Tintagel, when their attention was drawn to a black object moving very quickly along the surface about 200 yards away towards Tintagel Island. In view for about a minute, the serpent was at least twenty-foot-long, and was holding its head above the water which appeared to have a large mane upon it. The two witnesses rued that they had neither a telescope or a "Kodak to take its likeness”.