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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 1

by William Bottrell


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In the 19th century William Bottrell compiled three volumes of Cornish folklore, legends and historical tales. This is the first book in that series. Bottrell tells stories of giants, mermaids, and a gallery of Cornish fairies including the spriggan, bucca, and the knackers, the earth elementals who live in the tin-mines. He also describes Cornish folk magic, and folklore about witches. The style is idiomatic, and the episodic stories are told with touches of dialect and localized in specific places in Cornwall. Attentive readers will notice an incredibly politically incorrect passage where he uses language about Muslims and Africans which will leave most shaking their heads. As per our policy the book is presented uncut and unedited. However, the bulk of the stories here are great fun to read and dimensionalize this little-known Celtic byway.

PRODUCTION NOTES: Because a first edition was unavailable at this time, I used the reset Frank Graham edition of 1970. I quote the preface to that edition: 'We have not reproduced Bottrell's book in facsimile, although it would have been considerably less expensive...but we have included the whole work, except the List of Subscribers.' The pagination matches this edition, not the original. There were numerous typographic errors. It is unknown whether they were in the first edition, or introduced in the modern typesetting. Bottrell used creative spelling to reproduce Cornish dialect, including multiple variants of the apostrophe (ca'nt, can't etc.); these I have left intact. I hope to obtain a first edition at some point and redo the pagination. --John Bruno Hare, 11/6/2008.

Title Page

Legends of the West-Country Giants

The Giants of Towednack
The Giants of Carn Galva
The Giants of Trecrobben and the Mount
The Giant Wrath of Portreath
The Giant Bolster, of Saint Ann's


The Piskey-Led Commercial Traveller's Ride over the Hills
Uter Bosence and the Piskey
The Old Wandering Droll-Teller of the Lizard, and his Story of the Mermaid and the Man of Cury

The White Witch, or Charmer of Zennor

Part First
Part Second
The Sailors History


Annual Visit of the West-Country Folks to the Pellar of Helston, to have their Protection Renewed
The Pellar and Tom Treva's Cows
The Ghost of Stythians
The Ghost-Layer
Betty Toddy and her Gown; A St. Just Droll

Sketches In Penzance

The Old Market-House, and its Surroundings
The Self-Taught Architect of the Land's-End
The School-Days and Home of Pellew
Parson Spry and his Wooden Horse
Cornish Pulpit Retorts, Forty Years Ago
The Ghosts of Chapel-Street and St. Mary's Chapel-Yard


A Legend of Tolcarn
Newlyn; Our Jan's Brath; and the Particular Lodger


Part I
Part II

Nancy Trenoweth, the Fair Daughter of the Miller of Alsia

Part I
Part II


Sarah Polgrain

The Dwelling of Chenance

Lamorna Cove: The Dwelling of Chenance: Joan's Trip to Penzance on Christmas Eve
The Dwelling of Chenance, Part II


Bosava: The Demon Mason; and Lenine the Cobbler
Trewoof and the Old Mansion of the Levelis
The Haunted Chamber and the Maltsman
The Gardens of Trewoof
The Haunted Mill-Pool of Trove; and the Crusaders