Episode 42: Cornish Wreckers

“Will you hear of Cruel Coppinger?

He came from a foreign Land!”

Local people taking what they can from a wreck of a ship, probably filled with goods stolen from peoples across the world

Storms, shipwrecks, salvaging, surprisingly donkeys and satanic forces all feature in two tales of wrecking on the Cornish Coast.

There’s also an extended discussion section on the reality and the wrongs and rights of wrecking.

There’s no opportunity to check yourself so I guess just jump in and wreck yourself!

Once you’ve listened to the episode scroll down for a couple more links to some of the characters featured in the episode.

“Lord, let us pray for all on the sea;
But if there’s got to be wrecks please send them to We!”

Apocryphal “Cornish prayer
That’s an insurance job

Karin Murray-Bergquist

A big thanks this episode to Karin who pointed me in the direction of a bunch of nautical stories, which didn’t include this one, but which I later found she’d covered herself!

Karin is a multi talented folklorist, artists, podcaster, storyteller and much more. She has created a map of Ghost Stories from Newfoundland you can check our here: Ghost Ships Map and her various other projects can be found here: Kari Murray-Burquist. Her interview on the folklore podcast is also well worth checking out:

Also find her much quicker telling of the story on youtube below, under the wonderfully punny titled channel “Chapeauetry”

Featured Folklorist

You can read more about William Bottrell and his relationship with Robert Hunt here:

Bonus folklorist: Rev. R.S. Hawker

Reveremd R.S. Hawker

Hawker – the source of the Coppinger story, really was a very colourful character indeed. If you want the full details this article is well worth checking out:
https://thatsmycornwall.com/reverend-hawker-romantic-poet-professional-eccentric-and-compassionate-clergyman/

But just to give you a bullet pointed list of some of the more unusual and fascinating parts of the man’s life:

– Impersonated a Mermaid for a joke
– Wrote “The Song of the Western Men” – unofficial Cornish anthem to this day, which is a personal favourite
– Wore a yellow poncho, red trousers and crimson loves – a fashion icon
– Built his own little hut on the cliff edge using timbers from a wreck and wrote poetry in it (he was a wrecker!)
– Saved lives of ships wrecked at sea and recovered bodies for burial
– Excommunicated one of his cats for working on Sunday (maybe)
– Had a pet pig and a pet stag
– Converted to Roman Catholicism on his death bed, despite being an Anglican Vicar all his life
– Wrote Arthurian themed poetry

Basically – what a dude (though I make no claim on his moral character here!! I do love when these interesting folk crop up.

“The Wreckers” – George Morland


Selected Sources

Musical credits for Episode 42: Cornish Wreckers
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Welcome to Tales of Britain & Ireland: A podcast telling folktales, myths and legends from across Britain and Ireland. Hosted by Graeme Cooke.

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