Our Spooky History
According to local legend, a wealthy family incurred the wrath of local white witch ‘Mother Ivey’ over their refusal to help starving local villagers.
The family from Harlyn Bay ran a highly lucrative pilchard processing business where pilchards were caught, salted and packed into barrels, then shipped to Italy.
‘Profit Smells Sweet’
At the time, impoverished villagers were struggling to make ends meet. The motto carved into the granite lintel of the old fish cellars stands testament to the business owner’s approach and as an ironic reminder of the plight of those impoverished pilchard harvesters – ‘Dulcis Lucri Odor’, meaning ‘Profit Smells Sweet’.
One fateful day in the sixteenth century, when nearby Padstow was an important fishing town, a large cargo of pilchards returned from Italy, unsold. Though past their best, the fish would have been a blessing for starving villagers.
Despite requests to the business owner from local white witch and healer, Mother Ivey, the villagers were denied the fish and instead the pilchards were ploughed into a field as fertilizer.
If ever its soil was broken, death would follow
In anger, Mother Ivey cursed the field so that ‘if ever its soil was broken, death would follow’. At first, the business continued to use the field, however soon after the field and the curse claimed its first victim. Whilst riding in the field the family eldest son was thrown from his horse and killed.
The field went on to be associated with an unusually high death toll. During the 1970s a man using a metal detector in the field died of a heart attack, thus reviving the superstition. Shortly afterwards, local rumour has it that the foreman of a water company laying pipes in the field suffered a heart attack.
Modern day superstition
Adding an intriguing twist to the area’s chequered past, a renovation of the old fish cellars property during the last century apparently uncovered hidden staircases and rooms as well as “grim evidence of torture”.