|Tom Bawcock's Eve is
a festival held on the 23rd of December in Mousehole. The festival is
held in celebration and memorial of the efforts of Mousehole resident
Tom Bawcock to lift a famine from the village. During this festival
Star Gazy Pie (a mixed fish, egg and potato pie with protruding fish
heads) is eaten and depending on the year of celebration a lantern
procession takes place.The children's book The
Mousehole Cat by
Antonia Barber was inspired by the traditions a of Tom Bawcock's Eve
and has now made this feast famous. The feast also coincides with the
world famous Mousehole harbour lights.
A decoration part of Mousehole's famous Christmas light display in the shape of a Star Gazy Pie.
There is a traditional song associated with Tom Bawcock's Eve which is sang when the pie is served during the celebration. The words where written by Robert Morton-Nance set to the traditional tune "The Wedding March".
Tom Bawcok's Eve.
Merry place you may believe, Tiz Mouzel 'pon Tom Bawcock's eve.
To be there then who wouldn't wesh, to sup o' sibm soorts o' fish.
When morgy brath had cleared the
path, Comed lances for a fry.
As aich we'd clunk, E's health we drunk, in
bumpers bremmen high,
There are several theories to the origins of this festival, the first recorded description was made by Morton Nance in 1927 in the magazine "Old Cornwall". Nance described the festival as it existed at the turn of the 19th century. Within this work Nance also speculated that the name Bawcock was derived from Beau Coc (French) - , he believed the cock was a herald of new light in pagan times and the origins of the festival were pre-Christian. The most likely derivation of the name 'Bawcock' is from Middle English use (influenced from French) where a Bawcock is a nickname for a fine or worthy fellow. Rumours persist however that in fact the feast was "invented" in the 1950's by the landlord of the Ship Inn, a rumour which can be dismissed if you examine the Morton Nance's writings of the 1920's. Because of the volume of people now visiting Mousehole on this date small Tom Bawcock's celebrations have over spilled into the nearby communities of Newlyn and Penzance, however these are rarely advertised.
Tom Bawcock serving the pie at the Ship Inn Mousehole.
Tom Bawcock's Eve videos includes the tune to the song.