Mounts Bay Explorers - Newlyn and Mousehole

Ref: C3527828

From piratical traders and merchants to Newlyn artists, Mounts Bay explorers will focus on the multi-cultural medieval trading ports of Newlyn and Mousehole. Through walks and historic building visits their fascinating intertwined medieval and later history will be debated.

Additional information about this course

Meeting Place - Newlyn Gallery

Course aim

Mounts Bay explorers will focus on the medieval trading ports of Newlyn and Mousehole and their fascinating intertwined history through walks and visits to buildings of interest.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will start at Newlyn in the morning initially looking at how artists depicted the town and move on to Mousehole (via Paul churchtown) in the afternoon. From Newlyn there are excellent views of the whole of Mounts Bay which will help contextualise the key themes of the day. Newlyn is first recorded as a trading port in 1279, some 37 years after Mousehole, and was one of five such ports in the bay. Both Newlyn and Mousehole pre-date Penzance and the lost port of Port Plement in the historic record, but Marazion is noted earlier as it was the market and fair place for St Michael's Mount. Themes will include competitive pier building for trading advantage (a theme that continues to the present day and may explain why the artists came to Newlyn), the fish trade with its changing in fishing practice and processing and how medieval piracy began as self-help to protect this trade. We shall walk through Newlyn's three settlements and see how they came together, and explore Mousehole's back to back medieval market places and chapel sites of which there is little trace today. Other more general themes will include Mounts Bays role in the Cornish language revival movement, smuggling etc.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Appreciate the medieval origins of these places. 2. Recognise some architectural features associated with fishing and the fish trade. 3. Understand Newlyn and Mousehole's different roles in saving the Cornish language 4. Appreciate why artists chose Newlyn as their open air studio rather than Mousehole or Penzance in the 1880s.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Opportunities for questions and answer and informal discussion during pit stops.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Good walking shoes and wet weather gear essential and possibly fold up stool/shooting stick. Notebook and pencil or pen. Newlyn artists maps will be available for sale at a cost of £1 each.

Reading and information sources

Joanna Mattingly, Cornwall and the Coast: Mousehole and Newlyn (Phillimore, 2009). Margaret Perry, Newlyn (1999) and Mousehole (1998)

What could the course lead to?

Further WEA courses. University of Exeter courses at the Penryn campus. National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth maritime conferences.

Download full course outline

Mounts Bay Explorers - Newlyn and Mousehole Course Outline


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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