What is Cornwall Famous For?
June 21st, 2021
Cornwall is celebrated for many reasons; the gorgeous coastline, the incredible ales and locally produced foods and the welcoming feeling you get when you arrive. There are a number of things that Cornwall is famous for – we take a look at what puts Cornwall on the map!
If you’re feeling inspired for a stay at our luxury accommodation in Cornwall by the end of this post, then The Valley is the perfect place to make your base for visiting all that Cornwall has to offer!
For many, Cornish Pasties will be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the coastal county.
The reliable and delicious pasty and all its glorious variations have been part of the British diet for hundreds of years. With fillings to suit all tastes, seasons and locations, the pasty is, for many, a true and unique taste of Cornwall.
What are the Origins of the Cornish Pasty?
During the 17th century, miner’s wives in Cornwall would send their husbands off to work and wanted to provide a filling and practical bite to eat, which was when the beloved pasty became popular in the area. A hot filling, with vegetables, meat and a delicious gravy, all wrapped in crumbly pastry, was the perfect option for a long, hard day at work.
Some of the mines in Cornwall even installed pasty ovens, so the workers could bring their raw pasties down, and cook them fresh on their lunch.
Cornwall is famous for delicious short-crust pastry pies. Family recipes that have been passed down through generations, with variations in each family, offer an authentic taste of Cornwall.
What is Stargazy Pie?
The Stargazy pie is the most recognisable by the smell and sight, with the heads of pilchards that poke their way through the pastry being not easily forgotten. The heads mimic the idea of staring up at the night’s sky, with the fish admiring the stars.
The creation supposedly began in Mousehole and was a tradition which celebrates the fisherman Tom Bawcock, who, as legend has you believe, braved a ferocious sea in the hope of bringing back a large catch to feed his starving village. When the catch was brought back, it was made into the famous Stargazy pie.
This celebration still takes place around Cornwall on the 23rd of December every year.
While the books were first published back in 1945, it has been the most recent BBC interpretation of Poldark that has truly put Cornwall on the map.
The series has formed a whole new tourism spin for the county, with fans of the show flocking to Cornwall to head off on tours to see the gorgeous landscapes that make up the filming sites for the show for themselves.
With over 300 beaches across 300 miles of coastline in this coastal county, it is no surprise that there are some incredible seaside spots to visit.
From the tropical feel of lying on the sand in the sun to catching some waves from some of the best surf in the country, the beaches in Cornwall provide something for everyone and are beautiful all year round.
The Cornish Bagpipes have been used as part of ceremonies and celebrations as early as the 14th century. The instruments take true craftsmanship to create, which very few people today can still accomplish.
The recognisable Cornish sound, which is pitched in a low D, is made by the two long chanters, which can be played independently to produce a pleasant harmony.
Kilts and Tartan
Each colour and pattern of tartan have an important meaning, with each Kilt worn for a variety of reasons. Tartans can be worn as a representation of a family, special occasions such as the Cornish National Day or hunting expeditions, in combat, and others represented a specific location within Cornwall.
One of the earliest records of tartan and kilts being worn is from the early 19th century, although it is believed they have been worn for much longer.
Cornish wedding traditions consist of unique, bizarre and, in some cases, completely odd practices. One of the many historical customs was the ‘giving pepper.’
A complete gorse bush would be placed in the bed of the newlyweds, and once they had reached the room and settled, the guest would rush in and beat the couple with an array of apparatuses that were all intended to cause pain.
It was said that this ritual had to take place before midnight to avoid any bad luck that could curse the marriage.
Gorse was often the primary plant used for the decoration of chapels, houses and bouquets for wedding ceremonies. The flower represented bountiful times to come, and the attractive bright yellow flowers and the summery scent was perfect for such a special occasion.
Handfasting is another Cornish wedding tradition; the couple holds hands and makes a pledge to one another, then a cord or ribbon is tied around their hands to represent the bond of their declaration to one another. Handfasting is still popular today among many Cornish couples and other newlyweds in search of an alternative wedding ceremony.
A 17th-century recipe and name that is recognised worldwide – Yarg, a sumptuous lemony cheese wrapped in nettles (don’t worry, they won’t sting) that is produced in the heart of the Cornish countryside.
The recipe was found by a Cornish farmer named Alan Gray, which is where the origin of the name of the cheese comes from, contrary to common belief that it is a word from the Cornish language; Gray spelt backwards is Yarg.
The cheese continues to win awards for taste, appearance and the traditional methods used to make it.
The Cornish language originates from the Celtic races that occupied parts of England and Europe. The language is said to be similar to Welsh, and both of the languages date to pre-Roman periods.
The Cornish language is now being promoted, and many individuals and communities are being encouraged to learn it, to keep the history and tradition alive.
One of the most famous Cornish legends is that the birthplace of King Arthur was the picturesque and postcard village of Tintagel. The remains of the powerful and breath-taking castle also remain on the coastline of the village, with folklore claiming that the cave below is Merlin’s.
Cornwall has an endless supply of myths and legends, from mermaids to giants! You can read about more of these tales on our blog.
There have been several famous people who have grown up and lived in the beautiful part of the country, Cornwall.
Mick Fleetwood from the world-famous band Fleetwood Mac was born and raised in Redruth. Roger Taylor, the drummer from the band Queen, went to school in Truro and now lives near the beautiful town of Falmouth. The famous actor, Robert Shaw, from the films ‘Jaws’ and ‘From Russia With Love’, spent much of his childhood growing up in Truro.
Your Cornish holiday would not be complete without trying a Cornish pie or pasty or visiting one of the magical places that are immersed in folklore. Where will you head on your holiday?
5 Fascinating Facts About the Lizard Peninsula
October 19th, 2020
The Lizard Peninsula is the most southern part of the UK, standing out for its unique geology and rock formations. Its rugged, rocky coastline is believed to contain rock which dates to over 500 million years old!
What is the Lizard Peninsula?
Almost an island of its own, the Lizard Peninsula is an impressive rocky headland surrounded by ocean on three of its sides with the Helford River to the North.
Situated on the South West Coast Path, it is a popular spot for walkers who come to marvel at its beauty as they enjoy a spot of adventure during their Cornwall short breaks.
It’s beautiful landscape not only attracts the attention of visitors, but the unique area is a hot spot for scientists as well! We explore its incredible history and offerings with our top selection of fascinating facts!
The Origins of Its Name is Not What You Assume
Despite its mysterious title, the name ‘Lizard’ unfortunately doesn’t derive from mystical origins.
Neither does the name come from the Serpentine rock which the area is renowned for. The surface of Serpentine transforms into a snake and scaly like surface once polished.
The roots of its name are relatively ambivalent, but one proposal is that it comes from the Cornish term ‘Lys Ardh’ which means ‘high court’.
Another suggestion is that the name has connections to the Cornish word ‘lezou’ which is translated to ‘headland’.
Image Credit: Visit Cornwall
Home to the UK’s Most Southerly Lighthouse
As the most southerly point in the UK, it comes as little surprise that it also boasts the UK’s most southerly lighthouse.
Previous to the lighthouse’s construction in 1752, the coast of the Lizard was a dangerous area for ships and was titled the ‘Graveyard of Ships’. The spot is now home to the Lizard Lifeboat Station.
Mainland Britain’s Largest Outcrop of Serpentine
As mentioned, the Lizard Peninsula has been a point of interest for scientists and geologists.
It isn’t uncommon to see many university students visit the area as the rocks here are not found in nearby locations.
One distinct rock is Serpentine. The Lizard Peninsula is mainland Britain’s most significant outcrop of the rock. It’s striking appearance was reportedly favoured by Queen Victoria which heightened the industry in the 19th-century.
Best Preserved Exposed Ophiolite in the UK
Another area of geological interest at the Lizard Peninsula is the ophiolite.
The Lizard Peninsula is heralded as UK’s top spot to see the best-preserved source of exposed ophiolite.
An ophiolite is a unique form of rock formation which is produced from the Earth’s oceanic crust pushed onto the continental crust. It is often green in colour.
The parts of ophiolite include:
• The serpentinites
• The ‘oceanic complex’
• The metamorphic basement
An ophiolite can be found in the mountain belts of locations such as the Himalayas and the Alps, and amazingly you can also see it in Cornwall!
Image Credit: Visit Cornwall
It’s an Area of Outstanding Beauty
The Lizard Peninsula has received many awards for its stunning landscape and is a heavily protected area. It is largely recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as well as providing eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest. These awards and sites are specifically bestowed to protect the geology and wildlife of the area.
The Lizard Peninsula is cared for and under the ownership of a variety of organisations including the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Natural England.
Off land, the surrounding ocean at the Manacles has been awarded as a Marine Conservation Zone which is rich in marine biodiversity.
The Lizard Peninsula is a stunning, natural and protected area, providing the ultimate location for wildlife to blossom. What are your favourite facts about the Lizard Peninsula? Which has not been covered in our blog? Why not share your thoughts on our social media channels; we would love to know!
8 Facts About Cornish Mining
September 10th, 2018
Mining in Cornwall has a rich history that can still be seen across the landscapes, with historic engine houses still standing along the cliffs and moorlands. Mining was such an integral part of Cornwall that part of the county is now known as the ‘Tin Coast’, and includes some of the most impressive mines, such as Levant Mine and Botallack Mine. Here are eight facts you may not know about mining!
Tin mining in Cornwall has a long history
With evidence of Cornish tin being traded across Britain for approximately 4,000 years, it is clear that mining has long been a part of Cornish heritage. By the mid-1700s, Cornwall was producing around 12,000 tons of copper ore a year! During the 19th Century, mining in Cornwall reached its peak, with around 2,000 mines in action across the county.
Tin miners had specific rights
Mining was considered important enough that miners had the right to look for tin in any open land, as laid out in the Charter of Liberties to the Tinners of Devon and Cornwall that was formed in 1201. The same Charter also allowed miners to be exempt from military service, granted them lower taxes, and even meant that they could ignore certain laws!
There were high levels of arsenic
During the late 19th century, a few of Cornwall’s mines were producing more than half of the arsenic in the world. Created as a by-product during the processing of copper and tin, the arsenic was used as an insecticide, and in paint. As arsenic is an incredibly poisonous substance, mining was a dangerous profession, and workers needed to keep their mouth, nose and skin covered at all times! Clay was used as a protective layer to cover the skin while at work.
Women were miners
While mining is often thought of as a male-dominated job, women and girls played their part in the mining process too in Cornwall. While they didn’t go underground, they were an essential part of the mining industry. Known as ‘Bal Maidens’, these women would help to separate the tin from any other mined substances.
Children were miners too
Mining also wasn’t a profession for only the adults! By 1839, around 7000 children were working in the Cornish mines and would be put to work as soon as they were old enough. While the girls remained above ground with the Bal Maidens, boys were sent underground to help out with the mining. One particularly bad job was also left for the children, which involved sweeping the arsenic out of the flues!
The Cornish word for tin is ‘sten’
Originating from the Latin term ‘stannum’, which was adopted as the word for tin when Romans arrived in Cornwall to trade for tin.
Some mines were underwater
With so much coastline in Cornwall, it is no surprise that some of the mines stretched out beyond the land and under the waves. Levant Mine, for example, extends for over 2.5km under the sea. While the mine was 640m deep under the sea, workers could still hear the waves crashing above them. Steam engines were bought into these underwater mines to help pump out the seawater, making them more accessible for mining!
Cornish mines have World Heritage Status
Mines in Cornwall were awarded this impressive status back in 2006, marking the area as being a place of significance with outstanding value, and is recognised by UNESCO. While we know how impressive the mines in Cornwall are, to put this in context, this status puts Cornish mines on a par with Stonehenge, the pyramids in Egypt and Machu Picchu!
If you would like to see these beautiful areas, filled with the rich history of the Cornish mining community for yourself, then come and stay with us at The Valley, a 5 star luxury holiday park in Cornwall.
Image Credit: John McKindland