• Jem Roberts

Zennor's Woman Of The Sea

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Happy oceanic Folklore Thursday, all! 299 backers! How exciting! Who wants to be the next...?

And this week's Maritime theme has suggested quite a rarity for us of late – a very simple tale, with no need for updates, switched genders or altered angles, and with an extremely solid location where the story took place centuries ago, unquestionably worth a visit – THE MERMAID OF ZENNOR!

There's no glut of mermaid stories to be found in our 77 tales, no matter how our island's singular attachment to the sea makes the fishy species a British institution all around the world. You will discover a Welsh prince who dallies with a mermaid, and then there are the Silkies, who are were-seals, but the Mermaid of Zennor is absolutely our go-to girl for piscine sirens in Tales Of Britain, as indeed she is the ultimate paragon of mermaids in history, the world over. 

The vision of a mermaid carved into this seat at the village's church, St. Senara's (St Senara being synonymous with 'Zennor') is several centuries old, and all-but gave us the idea of what a mermaid looks like, holding her mirror and combing her luscious locks, with all below the belly button being scales. And it's rare that any clear memorial to one of our stories is right there, at the scene of the narrative, in such a neat package.

The legend runs, in short, that a villager called Matthew Trewhella (imagine Poldark, but prettier) had the most beautiful singing voice, that HE unsuspectingly lured this mermaid – a princess of the ocean, no doubt closely related to Neptune himself – up onto dry land, and won her heart. And it was in St Senara's one Sunday that the two of them duetted, and the beautiful music they made confirmed to them that they were meant to be together – under the sea. Although much loved in the village, Matthew escorted the beautiful stranger to the shore, and plunged into the Atlantic with her, where they lived long and happy lives, singing in coves and raising a family of fishy children. Long after folk believed Matthew drowned, a sailor docked nearby to reassure everyone that mermaid and Matthew had been seen, and the most beautiful singer ever to sing in St. Senara's was alive and well.

The folk of Zennor should mark the event with an annual singing contest really, but in lieu of that, Zennor itself may only be a small locality, not offering a week's worth of activity, just peace and beauty for holidaymakers – but luckily that corner of Cornwall is so packed with stories and locations, certainly those who drive will be able to cover two or three tale locations in one day. 

We have yet to book a TALES OF BRITAIN LIVE event for Cornwall, but will be down that way in early June, and hope to update you soon with details of what we can arrange – but as you will see from OUR LIVE PAGE HERE, we will be presenting some of the funniest tales in our book as part of the Bath Comedy Festival this Saturday at 4pm at Widcombe Social Club, so we dearly hope to make some of you laugh there! Mermaid should be advised that the club is only yards from the River Avon, so you should be able to make it.

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Publication date: January 2019
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