This 300 year old, former fisherman’s cottage has an intriguing and mysterious history. Concealed behind a false wall in the characterful Mousehole cottage hides an 18th century smugglers’ tunnel, which is presumed to lead to the harbour where smugglers would sneak contraband in to the country, avoiding the revenue men that patrolled the area. The tunnel had been known about locally but was lying blocked up for many years until recently when it was uncovered during renovation works.
The current owner, Mr Sanders-Clarke says “We realised during renovation that there was a false wall where the fireplace was, so decided to include a porthole into that wall complete with lighting to enable anyone to peer in. We also added one or two items to make the experience exciting for children visiting the cottage.”
He goes on to say “Confirmation of the tunnel story came from a lady in the local gallery (Sandpiper) who told us that she visited the cottage many times in the sixties because her boyfriend lived there , – she said that the tunnel went in a few feet then opened up into a small cave . He had put boards on the floor and candles on niches and used to go inside occasionally. She said that eventually the entrance had to be blocked up because it leaked during heavy downpours.”
Now, you can turn a light on and peer through the porthole where you can see the entrance to the old tunnel which has been dressed up with fishing nets, barrels and bottles, and imagine what it would be like to be an 18th century smuggler. Understandably, kids are absolutely fascinated by this.
The harbour entrance to the tunnel has since disappeared, but rumour has it that on windy nights, the faint smell of black tobacco can still be detected!
The tale of the tunnel is also mentioned in ‘Mousehole’ – a book written by local character and lifelong resident of Mousehole, Michael Buttery known simply as ‘Butts’. Having heard about the tunnel, the travelling drama group ‘Scary Little Girls‘, are set to include the cottage on their ‘Living literature Walks’ in December, where they explore the history of Mousehole and tell tales of its smuggling past.
The story of the smugglers tunnel in the cottage is now the subject of a popular children’s book called The Smugglers of Mousehole. You can find out more about it at www.thesmugglersofmousehole.com.
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