St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall

St. Michael’s Mount is a sacred site in Cornwall about ninety miles from King Arthur’s Castle in Tintagel.  It is a small island accessible on foot when the tide is out and has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. In 495 it is said hermit monks or local fishermen saw a vision of St. Michael standing on a ledge of rock on the island.

Step foot in a land where giants once walked. Legend says that a mythical giant named Cormoran once lived on the Mount, and he used to wade ashore and steal cows and sheep from the villagers to feed his gargantuan appetite. One night, a local boy called Jack rowed out to the island and dug a deep pit while the giant was asleep. As the sun rose, Jack blew a horn to wake the angry giant who staggered down from the summit and – blinded by the sunlight – fell into the pit and died.—Legends.aspx

Buy Emily’s Shadow, a fantasy novel set in Tintagel, Cornwall

Home Sweet Home

This is a stone cottage up for sale in Cornwall. Needs a little work, wouldn’t you say?

A few years back, my brother bought a cottage in Cornwall. His was not in such a state of disrepair, but had been modernized to some extent. He ripped out a wall and found a large walk-in fireplace. Alas his house had no central heating, as many houses did not. He had returned to England from Australia with plans to remain in his natal country, but he discovered his Cornish house was in the rainiest place in England. To make matters worse, the winter he spent in Cornwall was the coldest on record. He took his wife and new baby back to Australia.

Still, the idea of the village with a pub where locals hang out, a church where people congregate and sing hymns together, and a gardening club has appeal to me. I recently checked out housing prices in Cornwall. Looks like I’ll be staying home in Kentucky where the weather is warm, the houses are affordable, and people are friendly. No local pub though.


A Guide to the Female Sex, from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty

In the Old Post Office in Tintagel, Cornwall, there are Victorian samplers on display.  I couldn’t locate any images of the actual ones you can see there, but this mid-eighteenth century English sampler is rather interesting:

The words embroidered at the bottom: Behold the Daughter of Innocence how beauti-ful is the mildness of her, was apparently taken from “The Whole Duty of a Woman; or, A Guide to the Female Sex, from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty,” first published in 1753 (1).

At the time the author was listed as “A Lady,” but it turns out “the Lady” was in fact author William Kenrick, English novelist, playwright, and founder of the book review digest, The London Review.

His “The Whole Duty of a Woman” was his most successful work, reprinted in over 20 editions. The “Lady” who is writing is a fallen woman, now reformed, who wants to persuade other women to live a life of virtue. 

Ironic, considering Kenrick, the actual writer, has been described as one of London’s most despised, drunken, and morally degenerate hack writers in the later eighteenth century (2).

Emily Nobile, in Emily’s Shadow, admired her mother’s knitting, and kept a sweater she’d long outgrown to comfort herself over the death of her mother in the London Blitz, but personally she did not enjoy needlework, preferring instead a life of the mind.




Bodmin Moor: King Arthur’s Hall

Emily and her brother Byron, in Emily’s Shadow, mistakenly call the moor Bodwin rather than Bodmin, because many signs had been removed during war time to thwart the Nazis should they ever invade Britain. The map their father had was an old one and difficult to decipher; perhaps that’s why he got lost on his so-called short cut, much to his bride Carole’s irritation.

In the British sitcom, Doc Martin, to go Bod means to go insane.  Imagine walking around lost on a foggy day in this barren place where Druids once gathered, perhaps offering sacrifices to pagan gods beneath the monument now called King Arthur’s Hall.

King Arthur’s Hall (1) is …thought to be a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age ceremonial site.[1]

The monument consists of fifty-six stones arranged in a rectangle with a bank of earth around them and measures approximately 20m by 47m. The interior fills with water and a contemporary ground level has not been established.[2] It has suffered damage by cattle in the past and is now protected by a gated fence. It can be reached by footpaths east of St Breward.

Reference: (1)ttp://


The Old Post Office in Tintagel, Cornwall

The old post office in Tintagel is a 14th-century yeoman’s farmhouse. It was called the post office because during the Victorian period, for fifty years it held a license to be the letter-receiving station for the district.

The old decaying building was bought in 1903 by the National Trust from Catherine Johns, a local artist, who tried to save the building. She kept it up through sales of prints by local artists. She sold it to the National Trust for £200.

It is a place now open to visitors. Inside, you will find Victorian postal memorabilia and 19th-century samplers (embroidery much like cross-stitching). There is also a fire in the hearth for cold winter days when the wind howls in from the sea.

In Emily’s Shadow, the post office had crooked roofs, thatched rather than slate, and it was also a working post office.

A pretty cottage garden full of flowers is in the back rather than the bench where Emily and her brothers went to eat their fish and chips, but I caution you if you visit, you may well sense the mystery of Merlin’s magic floating through the ether, giving you goose bumps.