Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Sea Maidens at Durdle Door

Lulworth Castle, the magnificent home 
of the Weld family, was destroyed by fire in 1929 and amidst the tales of woe from the inhabitants came another strange 
story, that all the  maidservants had mysteriously disappeared. 
They were never seen again after the 
night of the fire and the local story has 
it that  all twelve of the young girls had 
gone for a walk along the cliff path to 
Durdle Door and had been washed 
into the sea from the forty foot high arch 
of the rock.

A former naval commander living in retirement at Poole recounted his 
experience back in the 1930's off the coast of Lulworth when a wild crescendo 
of screams tore the night air. 
" I leapt up the companion ladder, my throat scalding with fear. Desperately I sought to
penetrate the wall of darkness to the north, frantically searching to divide water from shore as the shrieking inferno raged about me. Then the screaming stopped as abruptly as if the waters had quenched it for ever and a small evanescent form rose on what I could just distinguish as the foreshore, not two hundred yards from my boat. It was the figure of a child. As it developed substance I saw it was a young girl. Her white expressionless face jerked awkwardly in a macabre dance, soon she was joined by another, and another. At once the foreshore was peopled with ten or a dozen girlish wraiths prancing and leaping in a mournful travesty of a childhood game. They were a ghastly spectacle and utterly joyless. Suddenly the figures were still as if restrained by a noiseless command, grew faint and were gone. I forced my eyes to stare harder but the curved foreshore was empty."

There are many legends of strange sea creatures along the coast of the South West of England such as the Veasta. This is a  large sea creature, part seahorse, part fish.
It has been spotted swimming off Chesil Beach near Portland numerous times. The first documented report was in 1457, it was seen again by the historian Rev John Hutchens in 1757,and was seen again in Church Ope Cove on Portland in 1965.
The remains of a strange creature was washed up on Burton Bradstock beach just a few miles down the coast in the 1980's and it was believed at the time to be the Veasta.

Another strange oddity found around the Cornish coast is the Whooper of Sennen Cove 
which makes a whooping sound from inside a thick cloud of mist. It would 
appear in clear weather over the cove signifying a severe storm was approaching.
It had the power to stop any fisherman from passing through the cloud of mist to 
the sea when a storm was imminent.
The Whooper deserted the cove when two fishermen, determined to get to the fishing 
grounds, beat their way through the mist with flails. They should have
heeded the whooper’s warning  because neither were seen again!

Falmouth has  its own resident sea monster called Morgawr ( Cornish for Sea Monster).

There have been many sightings since 1926 and is  described as having  a  stout body with a very long neck and black smooth skin like a seal lion. The local fishermen always blame a poor catch and bad weather on sightings of the monster.
 Locals believe that the monster only appeared after a German submarine U28 torpedoed a British merchant ship during W WI with loss of all on board. The creature was reported to have been at least 60 feet long shaped like a crocodile with webbed feet and a powerful tail.
There have been numerous sighting since and one man claimed to have taken a photo of the Morgawr lying in the water off Mawnan. The stretch of coastline between Rosemullion Head and Toll Point is known  as Morgawr’s Point due to the many sightings along this stretch of the coast.

A skeleton of what some people believe to be a Mawgawr was found washed up on  Charlestown beach near St Austell in 2017.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

The old saying ‘ an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ shows that our forbears knew 
what they were doing as the apple is a natural remedy for the stomach; aiding digestion 
and keeping the bowels regular! It is also good for the heart.
The bark can be used as a tonic and a stimulant, it will also help reduce fever.
To use the bark strip a small piece of bark from an apple tree,but  be careful not to 
ring the tree as you might kill it.
Boil the bark in water for 15 minutes and leave to infuse overnight. 
Take 1-4 fl oz 100-150 ml of the infusion daily. 
Boiled or roasted fruit will help with burn marks and it can be applied to sore eyes.

There are many superstitions 
surrounding apples and orchards, 
these beliefs were taken 
seriously in earlier days: felling 
an apple tree would bring the death
 penalty as it was believed to bring 
bad luck.
Apple blossom must not be brought 
into the house as it will bring 
sickness and the evil influence, 
and if blossom appears on a 
tree late in the season it 
foretells a death in the family.

‘A bloom on the tree when the apples are ripe,
Is a sure termination of some ones life.

The apple symbolises fruitfulness so barren women would roll on the 
ground in orchards in an effort to conceive, 
they also believed that wearing pieces 
of bark pinned to their clothes would 
bring them a child, and if it 
was good year for apples then 
they could expect to have twins.
The main tradition of the orchard is the 
custom of wassailing the apple trees 
during the winter months. 
This is still prevalent today and has been revived in many 
country areas.

The owner of the orchard, along with friends,  gather in the orchard singing, firing shotguns into the branches and beating the trunks with sticks to drive out the evil spirits to ensure a good crop for the coming year.
Cider is drunk from the wassailing bowl which contains hot spiced cider, lumps of apple and pieces of toast.
The remains from the bowl is poured over the roots as an offering to the Apple Tree Man, and the cider soaked toast is placed in the forks of the trees.

‘Old Apple Tree we wassail thee, and happily thou wilt bear,
For the Lord knows where we shall be,
Till apples another year’