March 6th 2021

What a week!

You might have realised that it was World Book Day on Thursday, or even noted St Piran’s Day yesterday, but did you know that this Sunday it is the 205th birthday of William Bottrell, a collector and writer of Cornish folk stories? In honour of all three, here is a short retelling of “The Mermaid of Zennor,” which Bottrell first recorded in his compilation of folktales, Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, in 1873.

According to Bottrell’s tale (or tail), “hundreds of years ago” a richly-dressed lady with an otherworldly voice used to sing in St Senara’s Church, Zennor, until one day, she mysteriously disappeared. Perplexed by her absence, Zennor folk began to believe she was a mermaid, and they carved a depiction of her into the wooden bench on which she used to sit during the services. This “mermaid chair” can still be seen today! Versions of this story have since been recorded by writers such as Eileen Molony and Charles Causley, and so the Zennor siren continues to capture the minds of generations!

Today, we invite you to read our adapted version of Bottrell’s text, and to try your hand at our mermaid or ship bookmark make. Whatever you go on to read this weekend, we hope you mark March in style!

Happy crafting!

Bethany Howell

Saturday Activities Coordinator