FOLKLORE-L Archives

Archiver > FOLKLORE > 2000-07 > 0963009894


From: Kath <>
Subject: [FOLKLORE] Cornish Ghost Stories
Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 15:44:54 -0700


Cornish Ghost Stories

>Cornwall has been described as the most haunted place in the British
> Isles, and for good reason! Stories of hauntings abound and most
>towns and villages have had more than their fair share.


At the famous old coaching hostelry Jamaica Inn (made famous by Daphne
Du Maurier's Novel) at Bolventor, near Bodmin, the ghost of a murdered
sailor returning to finish his last drink has been seen by many visitors
sitting on a wall outside.

Customers at The Dolphin Inn at Penzance have witnessed the sight, and
in recent years, the sound of an old sea captain dressed in tricorn hat
and laced ruffles paying them an unwelcome visit. It is believed he may
have been a victim of Judge Jeffries (1648-89), the famous "Hanging
Judge" who is reputed to have held an Assizes in what is now the dining
room of the inn, or possibly an old smuggler returning to claim the
casks of brandy recently found hidden away in the cellar during
renovations.

>From the Punch Bowl Inn at Lanreath, near Lostwithiel, comes the tale of
a demonic black cockerel believed to have been the angry sole of an old
rector of the parish who fell to his death down the stairs to his cellar
whilst fetching a bottle of wine. His guest for dinner that night was
the new young curate who had fallen in love with the rector's young and
beautiful wife. Did he fall or was he pushed? We'll never know, but
the very next day a large black cockerel suddenly appeared and began
attacking everyone in sight.
Eventually the bird flew in through the window of The Punch Bowl Inn and
straight into an old earthenware oven. A quick thinking kitchen maid
imprisoned him inside it and a mason was duly called to cement it up for
all eternity.

The Wellington Hotel, Boscastle's famous old coaching inn, has more than
it's fair share of ghostly inhabitants. Some years ago the Hotel's
owner, Victor Tobutt, was working at the reception desk when the figure
of a man drifted silently past him. Looking up, he was surprised to see
that the man wore leather gaiters and boots, a frock coat and a frilled
shirt, such as might have been worn by an 18th century coachman, and his
hair tied back in the old fashioned style. "There was nothing
insubstantial about him", Victor told, "he looked remarkably solid. "To
his shock, the apparition disappeared through the wall, but when he
began to describe what he had seen to one of his employees, the man
completed the description for him. Apparently he too had seen the
ghostly visitor on more than one occasion.

Another employee at The Wellington Hotel, retired policeman Bill Searle
has twice witnessed a misty shape wearing what appears to be a cloak
drift across the landing and disappear through the wall of a guest
room. It is thought to be the spirit of a young girl who, crossed in
love, flung herself in despair from the ramparts of the hotel's tower.
Victor also believes that another part of the building is haunted by a
murdered man, and there is also an "animal friendl " spirit, which was
eagerly pursued by the small dog belonging to the writer of ghost
stories who stayed in the hotel. Ironically, the writer himself didn't
see it, but his wife witnessed a shape move across the room, followed by
the dog excitedly wagging his tail!

Several of the staff and customers have also witnessed a dark shape
float down the stairs and disappear into the cellar late at night.
Curiously, the two oldest hostelries in Boscastle bear the names of two
of history's most famous adversaries. At the top of Boscastle's steep
"corkscre " hill, high above The Wellington Hotel stands The Napoleon
Inn. It is said that the inn served as a recruiting office in the
Napoleonic Wars, but the sympathies and interests of many Cornish
smugglers lay more with their French suppliers than with King and
Country. Legend has it that The Napoleon Inn was so named because it
was actually used to recruit volunteers for the enemy!

The Ghost of Charlotte Dymond One of Cornwall's most celebrated ghosts
is that of Charlotte Dymond, who was found murdered on the slopes of
Roughtor, near Camelford on Sunday 14th April 1844. Her lover, a
crippled farmhand called Matthew Weeks was later hanged at Bodmin Goal
for the crime, though it is doubtful that he committed it. Since that
time, and especially on the anniversary of her death, Charlotte has been
seen walking in the area, clad in a gown, a red shawl and a silk
bonnet. Sentries of the Old Volunteers stationed in Roughtor were very
reluctant to stand duty there, so convinced were they of her ghostly
presence. A memorial stone marks the site of her murder, and the story
has been immortalised too in "The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond", by
Cornish poet Charles Causley.

Duporth Manor The ancient manor house at Duporth was said to have been
haunted by the ghost of a nun known affectionately as "Flo". A century
ago she could be heard striking matches in adjoining rooms and at the
same time almost every night someone - or something? - would click open
the lock on the cabinet in the drawing rooms. The manor has now been
demolished and the sight has become Duporth Holiday Village, but
according to a night security guard "Flo" hasn't gone away. Many
strange happenings have been witnessed in recent years. The roundabout
in the children's playground has been seen to turn by itself, first one
way then the next without a breath of wind in the air. A kettle boiled
itself in a locked an unattended room and a sewing machine which whirred
into life without human assistance abruptly stopped when a member of
staff said "no thanks Flo -I don't need you today". People claim to be
aware of an invisible presence near the old Farm house. An elderly lady
staying at the village with her 5 year old granddaughter heard the child
talking to someone on the landing one afternoon. On investigating the
grandmother could see no one, and when questioned the child said she had
been chatting to a nice old lady in a black dress!

The Legend of Blackways Cove Backways Cove is an isolated inlet just
along the coast from the golden North Cornwall beach of Trebarwith
Strand. It is said to be haunted, but no one really knows by whom.
Could it be the ghosts of shipwrecked sailors drowned when their vessels
were torn apart on the treacherous rocks nearby? Or it could be the
restless spirit of a local man doomed to haunt the scene of his crime -
a crime with a curious twist in the tale? Many years ago a man with two
sons farmed in the vicinity, and on his death left his entire estate to
his eldest son, cutting out the younger one without a penny. The
younger son went away wracked with jealousy that fomented over time to
be an obsession until, convinced that he had been cheated of his
birthright he set out to wreak revenge on his elder brother. One night
he crept onto the farm and set fire to the buildings. The blaze took
hold and the entire property was razed to the ground. The ruins of this
once prosperous farm may still be seen near Backways - a few stones from
the farmhouse and outbuildings were all that remained. Only in the
morning did he discover that his brother had died the day before - and
left the entire estate to him.

The Talland Ghost Hunter Talland is a small village on Cornwall's East
coast not far from the fishing villages of Looe and Polperro. Once an
area notorious for smuggling, its worthy vicar, Parson Richard Dodge who
served the church between 1713 and 1747 acquired a reputation as a Ghost
hunter and Exorcist, almost certainly a convenient cover to disguise his
smuggling activities! Dodge claimed the power to drive away the Devil
and spread the story of having met The Devil himself driving a sable
coach drawn by two headless horses. He spoke of demons on nearby Bridle
Lane, a path that leads down to the beach, thereby ensuring that
God-fearing folk would steer clear of the area at night and not disturb
his illegal trade!

He also let it be known that on his approach evil spirits would cry out
"Dodge is come! I must be gone!" and so his reputation as the scourge
of evil spread far and wide in the county. Legend also has it that the
original Church was to have been constructed at nearby Pulpit and work
had actually commenced, but each following day the stones that had been
laid had been mysteriously transported over to the present sight. Then,
a chilling voice is said to have been heard, commanding "if you would my
wish fulfil build the church on Talland Hill". The superstitious masons
duly acquiesced, and there it stands to this day.

The Phantom Coach A lonely drive through quiet country lanes one wet
November afternoon led to an extraordinary encounter for Mr Cliff Hockin
of Mevagissey.

He was driving from Mevagissey to Truro to visit his wife in hospital
when, to his shock and amazement he rounded a round bend and without
warning was suddenly confronted with an old fashioned stagecoach
thundering along the road towards him, drawn by four horses galloping at
full speed. At the reigns sat a coachman in a greatcoat with wide blue
lapels, whipping the horses into a frenzy of speed. Beside the driver
blowing a posthorn sat the guard, clad in a scarlet coat and black hat.
Horrified, Mr Hocking stamped on his brakes, stalling the car and
throwing his hands up over his face. As the mysterious coach bore down
on him, the thundering wheels, galloping hooves and urgent blast of the
horn rising to a crescendo, he sat helplessly awaiting the imminent
collision. Nothing happened.
Instead, the terrifying sounds of the coach ceased abruptly and all was
quiet again. When he looked up it had literally disappeared into thin
air.The road was empty.

The phenomenon of phantom coaches drawn by ghostly horses is not an
uncommon one, especially in the uncommonly haunted county of Cornwall,
but to Mr Hocking this vision was a very real one. He remembers quite
clearly that the coach was painted bright red, low bodied with small
doors and windows and a sloping rear. Such a coach would once have
carried the mail to towns and villages in the vicinity - some two
hundred years ago.
Why was the driver in such a hurry? Well perhaps he was late with the
post - or maybe he had a rendezvous to meet. After all, Walter Cross -
the Mevagissey man who had introduced the stagecoach service into
Cornwall in 1796 was, among other things, a smuggler. Was it him at the
reigns.

This thread: