The sad tale of the Lady and the Lantern is based in St Ives which is a beautiful and very popular town on the north coast of Cornwall.

The specific location for the legend is known as The Island or St Ives Head.  This headland is a mass of greenstone and it is thought that at the time of the legend was a true island.  Today it is accessible from the main town by foot.

I spent a cloudy morning taking panoramic shots of many different locations around this small headland.  Wanting to capture the texture and colours in the rocks I used a technique known as HDR where serveral images capturing the very light and very dark areas are put together to produce a richer image.  Then about 10-15 images were stitched together to created the panoramic view of the rocks.  The image below was one of the panoramics captured.

panormaic view of the rocks at St Ives

Rocks at St Ives

The Legend…adapted from Robert Hunt’s version in Popular Romances of the West of England

When a light was spotted moving over the rocks on the eastern side of the Island with apparent ease the old sailor said “a sad night! The Lady and the Lantern is out”  Upon enquiry a bystander told the story…

There had been many wrecks the year of our tale with many weeks passing with many storms, each more severe than the last.  One evening, just about dusk, a large ship came out of the mist but her position was perilous beyond hope.  Although every effort was made to save the ship she suddenly struck a sunken rock and waves swept over the ship clearing the decks.

In an effort to save some of the crew and with little regard to the danger a boat was manned by St Ives fishermen and with help from the sailors they were able to use ropes to get close to the stricken ship.

Then from below deck emerged a lady supporting a child in her arms.  Although the fishermen begged the lady to pass the infant from the ship to the boat she could not be persuaded.  The ship was fast breaking up and so the lady was lowered, still holding her child, toward the sea and the waiting fishermen who pulled her through the waves towards their lifeboat.  During her passage the lady fainted and the child fell from her arms, lost to the sea.

Although life returned to the lady she found that without her child it was a life without hope and she quickly passed on.  She was buried in the churchyard but was often seen passing over the wall and onto the beach walking towards the Island.  There she spent many hours seaching the rocks looking for her child.  If the nights were tempestous or very dark she carried a lantern with her.  When the light was seen it was believed to be a warning of an impending disaster along the length of the coast.

A sad tale indeed but and one I shall think about whenever I visit the Island in the future.

Photographic art depicting the tale of the Lady and the Lantern in St Ives, CornwallIf you enjoyed reading this tale please pass it on or share your thoughts below…

The print is for sale by special order (because of it’s unusual shape).  Please get in touch for info and sizes available.