Further Musings upon Merfolk



At this time of year, when the sun begins to shed the merest hint of heat upon one's back, I invariably start thinking that I should be making all things merfolk.  So out comes the pile of background reading


I also began mentioning the subject to friends, who have added their stories to the mix.  I especially like the one shared by Linda Duriez from Days of Grace (fabulous vintage clothes shop in Budleigh Salterton), who told me about the Mermaid of Nately Scures in her native Hampshire:

"Amongst whirling waves, the mermaid (carved into the archway of the north door) watches all who pass through the church, and, if local legends are to be believed, she serves as a warning to them all. The mermaid’s legend tells that, once upon a time, she and a sailor fell in love out at sea. Their time together was, however, cut short when the sailor returned to land. The lovers parted ways, promising to reunite once he was recalled to sea.

Shocked not only by the appearance of a mermaid but also by the philandering ways of the sailor, the village carved a mermaid into the doorway of the church, as a reminder and warning to any would-be cheats."

Atlas Obscura  



I discovered a tale local to Somerset, too:

The tale of The Sea Morgan & the Conger Eels was a Somerset tradition reported to Ruth Tongue in the 1960s.  A "morgan" was a mermaid in Wales and around the Severn Sea, & according to the story a beautiful morgan was heard on many an autumn evening singing around Steart, so bewitchingly that any man who heard her was compelled to wade out into the sea, further & further until the quicksands swallowed him up, & then the conger eels would feast on his body. "They always knew when the eels barked she would be about that low tide, so something was done to end her wicked ways"

A local "gifted woman" had a son who was born on a Sunday. It was sometimes said that those with this blessed birthday...were proof against the charms of evil spirit, & not only was the lad fortunate in this respect, he was also deaf, so he could not hear the morgan singing. He did not think much of her looks either, what with her green hair, so when his mother sent him out to drive away the mermaid, he was not liable to be tempted. He took his mud sledge...& as the morgan sang he slid over the quicksands with his eel spear, getting a fine haul of conger eels as he went along. "When he'd speared twelve of them, she gave a skreek & took herself off - & she never come back. All Stolford and Steart had Conger pie that week".

The Fabled Coast - Kingshill & Westwood




One of these, or a variation, will likely form the basis of my next puppet show, but for now I am starting to build my fabric figures.  Shapes based upon recognisable fish seem to be falling out of my pencil



Early days, but I think they will be fun to develop & make a change from the standard-issue mermaid.  Also, I am dyeing more yardage with my garden-foraged nettles - heaven knows there are plenty available!  We uprooted three full barrow-loads from one edge of the orchard this morning.



More merrows, morgans or mermaids to come....