Mermaids of Cornwall

June 25th, 2018

In recent years the interest in mermaids has exploded around the world, with the rise in so-called professional mermaids taking to the waves to swim around in a tail and coated in glitter! With the summer sun bringing plenty of people to the seaside, mermaid tail-wearing swimmers have been heading to Cornish beaches to splash around in the crystal clear waters. As the sea is such an essential part of life in Cornwall, the connection between the county and mermaids has been long-running, with several mermaid-themed tales passed down the generations. Here are some of our favourites.


Mermaid of Zennor

Perhaps the most famous Cornish mermaid story is that of the Mermaid of Zennor. As legend goes, a beautiful woman in incredible attire occasionally went to church in Zennor, a small village near St Ives. No one knew who she was, but they were in awe of her beauty and delightful voice. Many local men attempted to win the affections of the beautiful stranger. After many years she became interested in a young man called Mathew Trewella, who had the best singing voice in the village. He followed her home and was never seen again.


Years later, a boat cast its anchor a mile out from the village. A mermaid then appeared, asking the ship’s captain to move the anchor, as it was blocking the entrance to her home where her children were. Returning to the shore, the sailors told the villagers, who were certain that it was the mysterious lady and Mathew Trewella. To both commemorate the story and to warn the young men of the village about the mermaids, one of the benches at St Senara’s Church had a mermaid carved into the side.


Mermaid of Padstow

Cornish folklore explains the formation of the Doom Bar in Padstow with a tale of a mermaid seeking revenge. Lying on the estuary of the River Camel, the Doom Bar is a sandbar that has been responsible for many a shipwreck. When a local sailor came across a beautiful woman while out hunting for seals, he begged her to be his wife. As she was a mermaid, she rejected his proposal, which deeply hurt him, leading him to shoot her. In her final moments, she placed a curse on the harbour, stating that it will be unusable from then on. Within moments a terrible storm arose, and a sandbar was formed across it, wrecking a number of ships. Since that day, the Doom Bar has proved a hazard for all sailors.



Mermaid of Lamorna

The mermaid of Lamorna is like a typical mermaid tale. Sitting on Mermaid’s Rock, the tailed lady combs her hair and sings, luring in sailors and fishermen with her sirens song. Each time, seven days from the day she was heard, a terrible storm would occur, causing a shipwreck. It was unclear whether she was wreaking havoc and causing the ships to sink herself, or was there to warn them of the dangers to come through her song.


Mermaid of Seaton

Seaton was once a large and busy fishing port, with houses and businesses along the seafront. Seeing a shoal of pilchards close to the harbour, local fishermen got in their boats to grab a great catch. A mermaid approaches one of the boats and begins to flirt with one of the young fishermen. Busy with the job at hand, the sailors pay more attention to the fish, and the mermaid accidentally becomes trapped in the net too. The young man freed her, but she was angry and insulted at being caught up in the net and decided to take revenge. Cursing the village, she created a massive sandstorm, making so much sand fall upon the harbour and town that it was completely covered, destroying the buildings. From then on, Seaton was simply a beautiful beach, found between Looe and Downderry.


Will you spot a mermaid off the Cornish coast? If you come and stay at our holiday cottages in Cornwall, there are a number of mermaiding courses and sessions available at many beaches around the coast, teaching you how to swim like a mermaid!