In early 2004 Boscastle reached our TV screens with the launch of A Seaside Parish, a series documenting the everyday life of this coastal village, with the lady vicar the star of the show. The village was portrayed as a close-knit community which, with its scenic location set among the dramatic cliffs of North Cornwall, appeared an idyllic place to live. Then in August the same year, while the series was still being filmed, all hell let loose with the onset of the great 2004 floods. Suddenly it was a very different Boscastle filling our screens, with people clinging desperately to roofs waiting to be rescued, cars being carried helplessly down the valley towards the sea and people’s homes, gardens, businesses and lives being ripped apart by the merciless flood waters. The series gave a sensitive portrayal of the heartrending aftermath of this disaster, which bore an uncanny resemblance to the 1952 Lynmouth flood.
Today this terrible event is firmly in the past, though undoubtedly not forgotten. Boscastle’s harbour was once a busy commercial port, with coal and timber coming in and slate and china clay going out. Though this activity has now disappeared, the harbour continues to provide a much-needed shelter for boats on this wild stretch of coastline. The lively nature of the sea beyond the harbour can be seen in the plumes of spray coming out of a blowhole in the outer harbour. The village itself has a range of accommodation, including a hotel, the ‘Wellie’, (Wellington) which featured regularly in A Seaside Parish, a small number of shops and eateries, and a Museum of Witchcraft. I remember visiting the latter as a child and being fascinated by the exhibits. The museum’s website warns that children of a sensitive disposition may find some of the exhibits ‘controversial’, but I seem to have come out of the experience unscathed!
There is a lovely walk from Boscastle leading up to the Valency Valley and St Juliot’s Church, where Thomas Hardy met Emma, his future wife, while he was working on the church as an architect. Hardy’s novel ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’ was set in the area.
Map of the area.
|Photo by JUweL, via Wikimedia Commons|