Cornwall news Mermaid who has kept generations of Cornish people staring out to sea UK news
MetiNews.Com - Cornish legend that has made it to pop songs, opera, poetry and art
Breaking News ! It’s one of Cornwall’s most famous legends – the tale of a mermaid enticing a handsome Cornish lad to live with her beneath the ocean forever and ever. I have to admit to always having a deep fascination with the Mermaid of Zennor – I’m not calling it a myth, as it could be true … couldn’t it? The squire’s son and “best singer in the parish” who left solid West Cornwall ground for a life in the briny was called Matthew Trewhella, or Mathey Trewella. As a Trewhela (my lot dropped the extra l and changed the pronunciation somewhere along the line), it’s always been a source of pride that my ancestor fell in love with a mermaid. I’m not the only one endlessly fascinated by the story – since Cornish folklorist William Bottrell first recorded the mermaid’s tale/tail in 1873 there have been constant homages to the legend, from operas to poems and indie pop and folk songs. The Mermaid of Zennor story centres on St Senara’s Church in the village, which is worth a visit in its own right. Senara is thought to have been a Breton princess named Asenora, a devout Christian, who was married to a king called Goello. When Senara became pregnant, the king’s mother falsely accused her of infidelity and the king cast her into the sea. The church of St Senara (Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images) She was put in a barrel, which was then nailed shut and cast out on the waves. The barrel found its way to Ireland and she was rescued by an angel, which tended to happen a lot back then. When her son Budoc grew up they both set out to convert the people of Cornwall to Christianity. Alternative tales say she washed up in Zennor and founded the church before heading to Ireland. Either way, it’s fitting that the legend of a mermaid has grown from a church which was supposedly founded by a woman who emerged from the sea. The legend of the fish-tailed beauty stems from a piece of furniture in the church. The Mermaid’s Chair, which is thought to be over 600 years old, features a carving of a mermaid holding a mirror and a comb. Some would think a mermaid, often seen as the epitome of sin in history, shouldn't be celebrated in a church, but in medieval times they were used to explain the human and divine nature of God. Medieval wall paintings of mermaids can still be seen in other Cornish churches, such as Altarnun and Breage. The Mermaid of Zennor by John Reinhard Weguelin In Bottrell’s An Vorvoren a Senar (that’s The Mermaid of Zennor in Cornish if you hadn’t already translated / worked it out) a choir boy and local squire’s son called Matthew Trewhella would sing in St Senara’s church every Sunday.
. Initially, she didn’t dare get any closer than the rocks at Pendour Cove near the village, but as the week’s went on she grew bolder and finally became so brave she dressed as a noblewoman and attended a church service. It appears young Mathey was the Harry Styles of his day.
Straw Dogs made a village in Cornwall the most controversial place on the planet
Haunted bridge in Cornwall where the devil will possess you unless you hold your breath
Every week she would leave the depths of the sea to listen to the lad, who finally fell for her scaly ways with a mermaidy flick of her tail and an equally alluring song. He became so smitten that he left the church and plunged into the ocean for a life of love beneath the waves, never to be seen again. Or he drowned. The legend goes that their voices can still be heard and Matthew would warn sailors of rough seas by singing low. When he went falsetto they knew it was safe to set sail.
The 600-year-old Mermaid Chair in St Senara's Church in Zennor
(Image: August Schwerdfeger / Wikipedia Commons)
It’s also said that the mermaid was seen several years later by a fisherman, who had inadvertently dropped anchor in front of the door to her house. Not being able to return to Matthew and her children, she wasn’t best pleased. The legend lives on – one of Cornwall’s most famous literary sons, Charles Causley wrote the poem, The Mermaid of Zennor, and everyone from Brenda Wootton and Seth Lakeman to Martha Tilston and Hazel Simmons have sung folk versions of the tale. You can stay up-to-date on the top news near you with CornwallLive's FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page. In 2014 indie band The Hit Parade released the rather excellent album Cornish Pop Songs featuring the song, Zennor Mermaid. As stated on Wikipedia: “In a curious twist, the local arts writer who interviewed Hit Parade founder Julian Henry for The Cornishman was named Lee Trewhela.” Despite every mermaid’s attempt you can’t keep a good Trewhella, Trewella or Trewhela down. Thanks to Wikipedia, Britain Express and Cornish Story websites for details.
Source = MetiNews.Com - Cornwall