Step into our history: Ship Inn, Mousehole

W ith the nights drawing in, the Ship Inn in Mousehole is the perfect place to escape winter’s claws.

Delve into the history of this popular bolthole this November – and, with their festive menu soon to be released, sink into the festivities with a seasonal visit.

Famed for its community spirit and traditions of old, there’s plenty to uncover with a wander through Mousehole’s maze of cobbled, narrow streets before retreating to this welcoming pub. 


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Mousehole was said to be ‘quite the loveliest village in England’ by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Indeed, the small Cornish village was the honeymoon destination of Dylan and his new wife Caitlin Thomas, who he married in Penzance in 1937 on their third attempt (having twice drunk their wedding fund prior to this date!) 

During this time, The Ship became their inn of choice, and today ‘Dylan’s Corner’ – in the corner of the bar – remains dedicated to the poet. 


In the beginning

The traditional whitewashed rubble building with slate roofs, as it still appears today, dates to the 18th century, although it was heightened in the 19th to command extensive views across the harbour and beyond to Mounts Bay.

With a long history as a port, it’s no surprise that Mousehole once had up to five inns. However, notwithstanding the rise in population and the adoption of Methodism during the 19th century, only the Ship Inn remained in 1841. The inn formed a group of buildings along the seafront which included fishermen’s and shipwright’s cottages, a general store, and a new quay. Built in 1838, this new quay, located just below the Ship, once landed goods such as salt for the thriving fishing industry.

Did you know? The earliest reference to the premises being called the Ship Inn dates to 1846. At this time, Richard Edmonds, his wife Elizabeth, and their two young sons lived in the property.


Growing popularity

The popularity of Mousehole during the mid-Victorian period was due to the emergence of tourism, fuelled mainly by the arrival of the railway to Penzance in 1859, alongside the town being crowned ‘The most painted spot in the British Isles’. There is little doubt therefore that the Ship Inn was frequented by many in the artistic community surrounding Newlyn and Mousehole.

The ’Harbour Window’ by Stanhope Forbes RA (1857 – 1947) was painted in one of the pub’s rooms upstairs, the model being Annie Blewett who lived in the neighbouring grocer’s shop.


Timeline of tenants

After a brief time as tenant, William Hall was replaced in 1883 by Benjamin Pearce who is shown in the 1891 census as living with his wife, five children, and mother-in-law. Like many inns of the day, the Ship Inn was used throughout the 19th century as a coroner’s court and auction house. There were also numerous newspaper reports of smuggling and wrecking activities alongside troublesome behaviour from its customers.

The premises were in the ownership of the Bolitho family of Penzance before being sold to Christopher Martin in 1870. The Martin family subsequently sold the property to Walter Hicks in 1901 for £900. This was a time of rapid expansion for the brewery business; indeed, Hicks capitalised on the expanding fashion for seaside visiting, having recently built two new hotels – The Ship and Castle in St Mawes, and The Globe in Bude.

John Williams then held the tenancy between 1904 and 1940, however by the end of the time the ‘conduct of the house’ had become problematic. Brief tenancies by the Teece, Ellis, Parker, Mitchell, and Stewart families then commenced before John Goddard took the helm for 15 years.

Today, the Ship Inn is a part of the brewery’s managed pub estate offering delicious seasonal dishes, perfectly poured pints from our award-winning range, and luxury rooms to recharge ready for more adventures around the harbourside.


Discover Mousehole this Christmas

With Christmas right around the corner, now is the perfect time to visit Mousehole. Famed for its light display dating back to 1963, it’s the perfect way to spend an evening with loved ones. With over 60 displays to enjoy from 17th December – 6th January, it’s a must-visit this festive season. Of these 60, you’ll likely notice the ‘stargazy’ pie – a tradition dating back to the 16th century when local fisherman Tom Bawcock braved the stormy seas when fish stocks were running low. Ever since then, the Tom Bawcock's Eve festival is held on 23 December in Mousehole.

Book a getaway to the Ship Inn and enjoy the festivities of this vibrant village.