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 family-friendly holiday 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!

Freshly cooked Cornish pasties

Pasties

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.

Pies

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.

Poldark

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.

Beaches

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.

Bagpipes

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.

Wedding Traditions

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 slice of Cornish Yarg cheese on a table
Image Credit: Tristan Ferne under CC 2.0

Yarg

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.

Language

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.

Folklore

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.

the ultimate guide to Cornish folklore blog banner

Celebrities

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?

Feature Image Credit: @Official_Poldark | Instagram