a picture my son drew of a wave on a beach


Tagged with: #stories
Jan Tregeagle
The man, the legend… Jan Tregeagle

On the original version of my website I wrote a long blether about Tregeagle. My version of his story, much of it inspired no doubt by that early Kneehigh Theatre production I saw at the Minack. Like much from back then it has been lost on a rusty hard-drive somewhere. Not even the Internet Archive managed to save it. I remember being so despondent when I lost it I just pasted this old story into notepad and stuck it on my crappy site.

Tregeagle , the Cornish Bluebeard, was popularly supposed to have sold his soul to the devil that his wishes might be granted for a certain number of years. He is supposed to have married and murdered several heiresses for their money. One day, just before his death, Tregeagle was present when one man lent another a large sum of money without receipt or security on the behalf of Tregeagle. Soon after Tregeagle’s death the borrower denied he ever had the money. He was taken to court and there said “If Tregeagle ever saw it I wish to God that Tregeagle may come into court and declare it.” As soon as the words were spoken Tregeagle appeared and gave witness for the plaintiff against the man saying that he could not speak falsely “but he who had found it so easy to raise him would find it difficult to lay him.” The money was paid, but Tregeagle’s spirit followed the man day and night. Finally the Parson was able to exorcise the spirit from the man with great difficulty. There are variations on this story, including that Tregeagle himself received the money but failed to enter it in his books. His ghost was doomed to do many impossible things, such as to empty Dosmery Pool, near Bodmin Moor, with a shell with a hole in the bottom. This pool had the reputation of being bottomless. Strange tales are told of Tregeagle appearance to people and his dismal howls at not being able to fulfill his tasks. Mothers say in Cornwall of their crying children “He is wailing louder than Tregeagle!” Other stories have ghosts on the shore of this lonely pool trying to bind sand into bundles with bands of sand. Tregeagle had to remove sand from one cove to another only to have the sea return it. On one of these sand hauling expeditions he is supposed to have dropped a bag of sand at the mouth of Loe-pool, near Helston. Now, in the wet seasons, the waters of this pool rise and obstruct the workings of the mills on its banks and heavy seas silt up the mouth of the pool. At these times the mayor of Helston by ancient custom presents two leather purses with three halfpence each as his dues to the Lord of Penrose who owns the pool and asks for permission to cut a path through the sand to the sea. Another task for Tregeagle is to make and carry away a bundle of sand tied with a rope of sand near a cove at Land’s End. But the spirit never rests with these never-ending tasks and the devil haunts the spirit until it hides for refuge in a hermit’s ruined chapel on St. Roche’s rocks. Near Land’s End, when the sea roars before a storm, people say “Tregeagle is calling!” and his voice can be heard around Loe-pool.

”Robert Hunt”, Popular Romances of the West of England.

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