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Tom Bawcock

 

Tom Bawcock is a legendary character from the village of Mousehole, Cornwall. He appears to have been a local fisherman in the 16th century.

 

According to the legend, one winter had been particularly stormy, meaning that none of the fishing boats had been able to leave the harbour. As Christmas approached, the villagers, who relied on fish as their primary source of food, were facing starvation. On 23 December, Tom Bawcock decided to brave the storms and went out in his fishing boat. Despite the stormy weather and the difficult seas, he managed to catch enough fish to feed the entire village. The entire catch (including seven types of fish) was baked into a pie, which had the fish heads poking through to prove that there were fish inside. Thus saving the village from hunger and starvation.

 

Ever since then, to celebrate what Tom Bawcock had done to save the village, there has been a Tom Bawcock's Eve festival, this is held on 23 December in Mousehole. Where villagers parading a huge stargazy pie during the evening with a procession of handmade lanterns, before eating the pie itself.

 

There was a rumour that the entire festival was a fabrication by the landlord of The Ship Inn in the 1950s, however festivities had been recorded by Morton Nance, an author on the Cornish language, in 1927 in the magazine Old Cornwall. His description was regarding the festivities prior to 1900, though he doubted the reality of Tom Bawcock, suggesting it was in fact "Beau Coc". He also went on to confirm that the origins of the festival dated back to pre-Christian times, though it is unclear at what time the stargazy pie became part of the festivities. Morton Nance went on to restore the traditional song sung on Tom Bawcock's Eve, played to the local tune "wedding March".

 

       

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