It goes without saying that Cornwall is full to the brim with history. However, with Halloween creeping just around the corner, here are five places tinted with the darker side of the county’s history, myth and legend.
Within the towering walls of this former prison, keep your wits about you and prepare to be spooked! Bodmin Jail allows visitors to immerse themselves in Cornwall’s fascinating history of imprisonment, crime and punishment, and to get a sense of what life was like for those locked up inside long ago. The original hanging pit, last used in the early 1900s, provides a chilling reminder of how times have changed.
For those looking for an extra dose of the spooks, Bodmin Jail has weekly ‘Scary Cinema’ showings, ghost walks, and paranormal tours. Bear in mind any age restrictions listed on the website! If that isn’t enough, the ‘After Dark Experience’ gives visitors the opportunity to stay overnight in the prison, walking the echoing hallways in the dark, and learning from experts on paranormal interaction.
Famously home to the legendary King Arthur, Tintagel Castle is associated with many stories and folklore. There have been several reports of ghostly sightings at the castle and village nearby, but two of these tales are particularly spooky!
Legend has it that Merlin, King Arthur’s wizard sidekick, called the cavernous cave below the castle his home. Today, it is said that his voice can still be heard murmuring the words of his magical spells, and it echoes across the cliffs.
The second tale is about one of the many shipwrecks off the Cornish coast. A ship named The Golden Fleece was to make the delivery of the Bells of Bottreux; a magnificent set of bells destined for the church at Boscastle. However, The Golden Fleece never made it to its destination safely, sinking just before she reached the shore. It is believed that the bells rang as the ship disappeared beneath the waves and can still be heard echoing off the cliffs of Tintagel today.
Situated on the bleak and eery Bodmin Moor, Jamaica Inn is famous for being the location for Daphne Du Maurier’s iconic novel of the same name - inspired by her stay in 1930.
An episode of ‘Most Haunted’ was also filmed here with numerous rooms throughout the inn reputed to be hotspots for the paranormal. If you’re feeling brave, haunted rooms are bookable, and you can even join a ghost tour.
Nestled into the wild and misty depths of Bodmin Moor, Dozmary Pool is the subject of several legends. Most famously, a man named Jan Tregeagle bargained with the devil for a life filled with wealth and power, and after death was faced with the eternal task of emptying Dozmary Pool armed with nothing but a limpet shell with a hole in the bottom. It is said that his screams of anguish can still be heard in the wind today.
St. Sanara’s Church
St Sanara’s Church is home to the Mermaid of Zennor; an intricate carving on the end of a wooden pew. According to folklore, the mermaid of Zennor fell in love with a man named Mathey Trewella when she heard him sing in the church. She came onto the land in human disguise in order to attend services where she could listen to Mathey’s beautiful voice. When this was no longer enough, she sang with a voice so enticing that she lured him into the sea, and Mathey was never seen again.
The landscape surrounding Zennor is utterly breath-taking, and we recommend exploring the surrounding coastline on your journey.