If you haven’t seen to see the Christmas lights in Mousehole you haven’t done Cornwall. The world famous display has been produced every year since 1963 and now contains an amazing 7,000 bulbs.
Whales and sea monsters appear from beneath the waters, Santa rides his sleigh pulled by reindeers – as the Mousehole Cat sits proudly on the sand.
A dish unique to Mousehole – Stargazy Pie – lights up beneath the Ship Inn pub, where it is prepared and eaten on 23rd December, Tom Bawcock’s Eve.
Legend has it that residents were starved of fish because of a stormy winter and no fisherman had been out. Two nights before Christmas, Tom Bawcock, a local fisherman, braved the storm and through some miracle caught seven types of different fish to feed the village.
Every year he is honoured on the 23rd December, when the Stargazy Pie is cooked at The Ship Inn and brought out at midnight.
The Christmas lights were started in 1963 by Mousehole-based artist, Joan Gillchrest, when a string of coloured bulbs was put along both quays to make the village a bit brighter. From those early days the displays grew very quickly having caught the imagination of a couple of village carpenters. Some of their designs, like the sea serpent, are still featured at Christmas although they are not the original pieces. The sea serpent has been remade several times as the weather in December and January can badly affect the displays.
Whilst the lights are a celebration of the season there is also a time of remembrance for the village. On the 19th December the lights are turned off for an hour between 8 and 9pm in memory of the crew of the Solomon Browne, the Penlee lifeboat that was lost with all hands in 1981, whilst attempting to rescue the crew of the Union Star off Lamorna. Nearly all the crew of the lifeboat were from Mousehole including the pub landlord, Charles Greenhaugh, to whom there is a plaque on the wall of the Ship Inn.