I’ll admit it, the main reason I wanted to stay in Penzance was the pirates. Maybe Penzance never had any more pirates than the rest of the Cornish coast but it inspires me to hum Gilbert and Sullivan and I think that is a good thing. Glorious, even. It is, it is a glorious thing to be a Pirate King!
OK, right. Penzance did have pirates, and smugglers too, and it has some very old and colorful pubs that celebrate that history. Alekka and I went on a research expedition to the Turk’s Head (established 1233!)
and to the Admiral Benbow, which has been in existence since the 1600s and used to be part of an elaborate system of tunnels and escape hatches for smugglers
Penzance is a colorful place
Alekka and I decided to commemorate our visit to pirate-land with some piercings
One day we took a long walk to St. Michael’s Mount. It’s a castle on a tidal island that was a monastery in the 8th century, although the oldest buildings still standing now are from the 1300s. A Colonel St. John Aubyn bought the island in 1659 and his descendants, the Lords St. Levan, still live there.
Visiting hours are over at 5 pm. We got the feeling that the family were upstairs just waiting for the tourists to leave so they could come out. It’s not easy being a lord these days. Up on one of the terraces Alekka and I looked into a window of a storage room and saw two skateboards. The teenage sons of the current lord must skate on the terrace after the last visitors go home. There was a voyeuristic appeal to the experience. I’m not sure whether to feel privileged to have a glimpse into lives lived in this rarified atmosphere or to feel sorry for people who have to put themselves on display for the paying public.
As we were walking home, I thought I had somehow entered a mythological scene when I saw beasts emerging from the sea. It’s easy to make that mistake when you are in Cornwall.
Just horses. Back to reality, and back to Penzance.