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Cornish Ghost Stories
Short stories for Halloween
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.
The Legend of Blackways Cove
Blackways 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 Blackways - 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 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.
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!
Creeping Lane, Newlyn, Cornwall
There is a narrow lane, between Lidden hill, Alverton and Tolcarne, Newlyn, which seems to have a very creepy atmosphere, especially at night, It runs parallel to a very dark wood, which could be the reason for the eerie sensation, but there are a few stories about the road, that could explain this could be perhaps more than just a feeling.
Many years a go a small baby was found, lifeless and without any clue to who it belonged to. Also the lane runs past the now overgrown, entrance to Devil's Rock, a large slab of rock overlooking a sheer drop to Newyln Coombe, It is said that the devil made an appearance here, and local fishermen say that the devil was once caught in the nets. The fishermen said the Lords Prayer and the devil stamped his foot in anger and vanished. Never to be seen again.
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?
Haunted Pubs and Inns
At the famous old coaching hostelry Jamaica Inn (made famous by Daphne Du Maurier's Novel) in Bolventor, near Bodmin, the ghost of a murdered sailor returning to finish his last drink has been seen by many visitors.
Customers at The Dolphin Inn in Penzance have witnessed the sight, and in recent years the sound, of an old sea captain dressed in a tricorn hat and laced ruffles. It is thought 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 soul 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 its 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. Another part of the building is thought to be haunted by a murdered man, and there is also an "animal friendly" 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 "corkscrew " 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 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.
White Horse - St Ives Cornwall
There's a beach in St Ives, thats said to be haunted by a White horse.
The story goes that a man rode his horse every day on the beach, at the same spot he would dismount, and go for a swim, but one day tragedy struck and he was washed out to sea and drowned. The horse was found, still on the beach staring out to sea.
A few years later the horse also died and it is said in that area that the horse can still be seen waiting for his master and sometimes at certain times of the year a man and horse can be seen riding along the beach.