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A small Cornish fishing village named after a cave just along the coast, which resembled a mouse's home

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Mousehole Harbour
Colourful Cottages
Christmas Lights
The name of this small Cornish fishing village apparently came from a cave just along the coast, which resembled a mouse's home. It's quite a big cavern though, so its unclear what size of mouse was meant to live there! Be careful with the pronunciation, because it's a little unusual. Rather than the expected "mouse-hole", it is actually pronounced as "mow-zel".
There are quite a few old fishing villages in Cornwall, and many of these have become popular tourist destinations. Mousehole is no different, but it is one of the few places that hasn't let this attention go to its head. The town has kept hold of the appearance and atmosphere of a traditional fishing port.

Mousehole Harbour
Photo unloveablesteve
In its heyday, this was arguably one of the most important harbours in the county. Its history goes back a long way, with records dating back to at least as early as the 13th century. Parts of the pier were erected in 1390, making it quite possibly the oldest in Cornwall.
The village suffered a severe setback in the late 16th century, when it became a victim of a marauding fleet of Spanish ships. Every single building was left in ruins, aside from one. This was a pub called the Keigwin Arms, which is now a private residence. A plaque outside commemorates "Squire Jenkyn Keigwin", who was killed defending the house against the Spaniards.
Mousehole was rebuilt, but it never managed to regain its former size or status. The fishing fleet is also much smaller now than it was in the village's past, although there are still some working fishermen. Despite this, the harbour isn't empty and abandoned. It is still a busy place, full of leisure craft of all sizes and styles. Mousehole has many fans and admirers that eagerly proclaim this to be the most attractive harbour in the country. Its most famous features are the harbour walls, which come together to form a narrow opening that only admits small-sized boats. Funnily enough, this shape could be said to resemble a mousehole!
One of the town's most famous mariners was named Tom Bawcock. His story takes place one winter, many years ago, when the seas had become too stormy to navigate. The fishermen couldn't make their catches, and the town was slowly running out of food. Only Tom Bawcock was brave enough to pack his nets, and set sail. He returned some time later with enough fish to feed the whole of Mousehole. They baked a huge dish called Stargazy pie, and all tucked in. This tale is still remembered every December, when the locals all cook Stargazy pie together. It is also immortalised in the beautiful story of "The Mousehole Cat"
The harbour may be its most celebrated feature, but the buildings in the interior of the village are just as attractive. Several houses are painted in a variety of pastel colours, and many other buildings are made of a gentle yellow stone called Lamorna granite, which is sourced from a nearby Cornish quarry.

Cottages built from Lamorna Granite in Mousehole
Photo Dick Penn
Mousehole really becomes a spectacular sight at Christmas time, when they turn on the lights. The village's decorations are renowned throughout Cornwall. The harbour is covered with bright signs, and all of the local residents decorate their houses with strings of bulbs. All together they use miles and miles of wiring, joining together hundreds and thousands of lights.
The poet Dylan Thomas was a frequent visitor to Mousehole, once describing it as "the loveliest village in England". There are undoubtedly dozens of villages across the country that would dispute this claim, but at Christmas, amongst the colourful decorations, it gets much easier to agree with him.

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