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A remote village with legends of mermaids and located on high rocky cliffs


Wayside Folk Museum
Zennon Quoit
Zennor Head
Zennor lies on the high rocky cliffs between St Ives and St Just. It is a rugged village that once had a stone quarry and much of St Ives and Falmouth harbour were built with its stone. A local legend claims that the name Zennor originates from the name of a saint who was thrown off a headland in Brittany in a barrel after being falsely accused of adultery by her husband and washed up on the Cornish coast, founding Zennor, before continuing to Ireland.

The centre of the village
Photo Sarah Smith
DH Lawrence spent 1915-17 in the village of Zennor with his wife Frieda, he loved 'the high shaggy moor hills and big sweep of lovely sea'. However, they were forced to leave Cornwall and return to London after the locals became hostile, believing they were German Spies.
Situated within the village is the small and privately run Wayside Folk Museum. This internationally renowned museum houses an extensive collection of over 5000 artefacts which reflect the lives of the people who have lived in the local ancient landscape dating from 3000 B.C. to the 1950s.

The Wayside Folk Museum
Photo Pauline Eccles

Tinners Arms

Photo Trish Steel
Everything a country pub should be, log fires, stone floors, this timeless pub was built in 1271 to house the Mason's who constructed nearby St Senara's church. Serving lunch and supper menus throughout the week. Tel: 01736 796927

The Legend of the Zennor Mermaid

Matthew Trewhella was a good-looking young man with a good voice. Each evening Matthew would sing the closing hymn at the church in Zennor, solo. A mermaid living in neighbouring Pendour Cove was enchanted by the music. She dressed in a long dress to hide her long tail and walked a bit awkwardly to the church. Initially, she just marvelled at Matthew's singing before slipping away to return to the sea. She came every day, and eventually became bolder, staying longer. It was on one of these visits that her gaze met Matthew's, and they fell in love. However, the mermaid knew she had to go back to the sea or die. As she prepared to leave, Matthew said, "Please do not leave, who are you, where are you from?" The mermaid told him that she was a creature from the sea and that she must go back. Matthew was so love-struck that he swore he would follow her wherever she went. Matthew carried her to the cove and followed her beneath the waves, never to be seen again. It is said that if you sit above Pendour Cove at sunset on a fine summer evening you might hear Matthew singing faintly in the breeze.
You might wish to explore the nearby landscape, as it is littered with ancient sites; for example, on the moors a mile east of the village is Zennon Quoit, a ruined megalithic burial chamber, which dates from about 2,000 BC, and the chamber stone is reputed to be the largest in the world.

Zennon Quoit
Photo David Kernow
Zennor Head, north of the village, is a rocky outcrop, where the towering cliffs rise steeply over 200 feet (60m) from the sea. Taking the coast path eastwards from here to St Ives (6 miles) takes you along some the most rugged and remote costline in Cornwall.

Zennor Head
Photo Tony Atkin
Visitor Information
The Wayside Folk Musuem is open daily, April to October, 11am to 5pm. Small entry charge. Zennor, TR26 3DA. Tel: 01736 796945

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