Wednesday, 12 January 2011

MOUSEHOLE

Mousehole (or Muzzle as the locals call it) is a place close to my heart – or rather my genes, because many of my ancestors were from this charming little fishing village. My mother grew up in a harbourside cottage literally feet from the harbour’s edge, the sort of place which would fetch a King’s ransom in holiday rentals today. The cottage is visible in the photograph below, just to the right of the little beach. I often wonder what it must have been like to grow up in a place like that, it must have been every child’s dream. The family did not own the cottage, my grandfather being a fisherman of modest means - it was rented. As a sign of the times, that very cottage not so long ago was featured in the Telegraph as property of the week. In fact, Mousehole ranks among the half dozen locations in Cornwall with the highest number of second homes. A far cry from the close-knit local community which my mother grew up in.

Going back in time, Mousehole's darkest hour in history came in 1595, when four Spanish galleons from the Spanish Armada landed at Mousehole, and their occupants ran amok and all but burned the village to the ground.  An equally dark time in modern times occurred on 19th December 1981 when eight incredibly brave lifeboat men from the Solomon Browne lifeboat, based at nearby Penlee Point, died trying to rescue the crew of the Union Star coaster.  I spent Christmas with my family in nearby Penzance that year, and I still remember the sombre mood hanging over the whole area following this awful tragedy.

One of the nicest times of year to visit Mousehole is after dark at Christmas, when the harbour is adorned with festive lights. I still remember the lovely Christmassy feeling I used to get as a child when I was taken to see the Muzzle lights, and hear Christmas carols being sung by the harbourside. Just before Christmas, on the eve of Christmas Eve, is Tom Bawcocks’s Eve, named after a resident who saved the village from a famine. This event spawned an unusual culinary delicacy, not for the faint-hearted, called Stargazy Pie, a pilchard pie which has the heads of the pilchards poking out through the pastry. I can’t say I’ve tried it myself; I would be interested to hear from anyone who has!

Map of the area.


File:Mousehole from west.JPG
Photo by N p Holmes, via Wikimedia Commons

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