Quaint fishing village



Situated two miles west along the coast from Newlyn, past Penlee quarries and Penlee Point, where a large lifeboat was installed in 1960. Mousehole is another of the many quaint little fishing villages scattered round the Cornish Coast. Its oldest building, the former Keigwin Arms, now divided into flats, is a fine example of Elizabethan domestic architecture, despite modernisation in 1946 and 1947. The cannon ball that killed the owner, John Keigwin, in the Spanish raid of 1595 was found in the house and his sword is on display in Penzance Museum. St. Clement's Isle provides a fine natural breakwater for the tiny harbour. Mousehole was formerly called Porth Enys (Island Port) as a result. The population of the village was 697 in the 2011 Census.

The extent of smuggling in the area was once so great that a force of revenue officers was stationed here. Stories abound of Cornish wreckers luring shipping onto rocks with false navigational lighting, with the survivors on reaching the shore being set upon and killed.

Everything is centred around the tiny harbour like an open-air theatre. The narrow alleyways between small houses, arranged higgledy-piggledy fashion, tempt the inquisitive to explore. Small galleries and craft shops offer a delightful diversion.

A small and very safe beach is located in a sheltered part of the harbour which is popular with families. An islet called St. Clement's Isle lies about 380 yards offshore from the harbour entrance.

On 19th December 1981 hurricane force winds had blown the cargo ship 'Union Star' off course after it suffered engine failure. The lifeboat 'Solomon Browne' launched from Penlee Lifeboat Station, into very difficult waters, so rough, that the crew of the Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose were unable to lift any of the eight crew from Union Star. Coxswain Trevelyan Richards made several attempts to get alongside and managed to rescue four people who jumped from the Union Star's wheelhouse onto the lifeboat. The lifeboat made a further attempt to rescue the remaining four when radio contact was lost. Her last message was: 'We've got four off at the moment'. Ten minutes later her lights disappeared. The lifeboat had been completely wrecked with the loss of her crew of eight. There were no survivors from the 'Union Star'. In total there were sixteen casualties. The lifeboat was moved to Newlyn in 1983 but continues to be known as the 'Penlee Lifeboat'.

Penlee has a remarkable history of bravery with the lifeboat crews being presented with forty four awards for gallantry during its 200-year history. The station has also witnessed tragedy with nine lifeboat crew losing their lives saving others at sea.

The steep Raginnis Hill leads to the Mousehole Bird Hospital and Sanctuary where injured wild birds of many species have been cared for over the years.

On the 15th December 1989 a major storm damaged most of the Christmas illuminations around Mousehole harbour but they were repaired by the fishermen in time for the celebrations.

Notable Residents

Dolly Pentreath, a Mousehole fishwife, who died here in 1777, and is buried in nearby Paul Churchyard, is reputed to have been the last person to speak nothing but the Cornish language. A plaque marks the site of her cottage. There is a monument to her at the boundary wall of the parish church of Paul. Inside the church, the Penlee lifeboatmen who died in the tragedy of the 'Solomon Browne' in 1981, have a unique memorial.

John Keigwin (1641–1716), a scholar in the Cornish language.

William Carvosso (1750–1834), the Methodist.

Admiral of the fleet Sir Caspar John GCB (1903–1984) lived in Mousehole in retirement.

The artist Jack Pender (1918–1998) was born in Mousehole and spent most of his career there.

English writer and illustrator Michelle Cartlidge (1950-) lives in Mousehole.

Joseph Trewavas VC, CGM (1835–1905) was a Royal Navy sailor and a recipient of the Victoria Cross who was born in Mousehole.


Mousehole stages spectacular Christmas illuminations around the harbour in December and thousands come to see the magical displays.

Tom Bawcock's Eve on December 23rd is celebrated with fish lantern procession and Star-Gazey Pies.

Every other year in July the Sea Salts and Sail Festival is held. Scores of historic vessels assemble in and around the picturesque harbour to celebrate Cornwall's rich maritime heritage.


Rock Pool Cafe

Jessie's Dairy

The Old Pilchard Press Cafe

Four Teas Cafe

Hole Foods

2 Fore Street Restaurant


The Ship Inn

The Old Coastguard

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