Morwenstow

The Ghosts of Morwenstow

 

As I stood on these very steps looking out to sea on a bleak, brooding day, it was easy to imagine the cries of help from men out at sea. The cracking and groaning of a ship losing her battle against the ferocious and unforgiving rocks. The beautiful landscape is tainted with a very present feeling of sadness.

For the amount of tragedy and loss of life that has occurred around Morwenstow, there is no surprise in the belief that the area is haunted. Many believe that the ghost of Hawker is still present in his church and the surrounding land. Does he still walk the cliff tops in search of ships in distress? It is hardly surprising for a man that was so dedicated to his cause in life. 

Across the road from the church is the 13th Century Bush Inn. The low beams and open fires provide a cosy and welcoming environment to visitors, especially on wild and stormy night. The inn is apparently home to the ghost of a sailor, one of the many to lose his life at Morwenstow. His footsteps have been heard many times walking around the inn. How many more seamen walk the area still, searching for a vessel to take them home?

The steps leading from the church yard and across the fields to the sea, the route that Hawker would have walked in perilous conditions. 

The History of Morwenstow

 

Like much of Cornwall, the area around Morwenstow is a hazard for ships, the coastline littered with jutting, craggy rocks. 'Sharpnose Point' off of the Morwenstow coast has taken down many vessels over the years. Hawker was an incredibly selfless character who spent many an evening walking the coastline by his parish, looking out for ships in distress. If he found a wrecked ship, he brought the victims, dead or alive, back up to his churchyard. Those that unfortunately passed away, were buried in the churchyard. Perhaps the most well known of wrecks was that of The Caledonia. The 200 ton brig had sailed a year long journey from Odessa and Rio, and was only two days away from her destination of Gloucester when her journey ended prematurely. She was wrecked off of Morwenstow and all but one of her crew perished. Hawker painstakingly brought each and every body back up to the church and laid them to rest. The figurehead from the ship was also salvaged and can be found mounted on the wall inside the church (see image). A replica now stands in the graveyard, acting as a mourning figure, marking the site of the buried seamen. 

   

There have been numerous wrecks recorded around Morwenstow dating back to the 1700s.

       A few of those are as follows;

   

  • 7 Sept 1842 - The Caledonia - Loss of all crew except one

  • 10 Jan 1843 - St. Ives schooner - All crew lost 

  • 15 Jan 1843 - The Phoenix - St. Ives schooner - All crew lost

  • 28 Oct 1843 - The Alonzo - South Wales to Hamburg - All crew lost 

  • 19 Feb 1868 - Jeune Joseph - France - All 6 crew lost 

  • 1869 - Avonmore - Cardiff to Montevideo - 7 out of 22 crew lost