History

The Rev. R. S. Hawker

Any guide book of Morwenstow in Cornwall will mention the Rev. R. S. Hawker and his vicarage with it’s famous chimneys modelled on church towers that had a special meaning for him.¬†Parson, eccentric, Victorian poet who gave Tennyson the background for his writings on King Arthur and wrote Trelawney the Cornish Nation Anthem. The Rev. Hawker is too complex to fully describe here but finding out more is part of the enjoyment of a holiday at The Old Vicarage.

The parish church is dedicated to Saints John the Baptist and Morwenna. In the churchyard, corpses of drowned sailors were laid out. The Reverend Hawker buried over forty unfortunate sailors who were drowned at sea and washed up at the bottom of Vicarage Cliff. One of the memorials in the churchyard was the white figurehead of the “Caledonia”, whose captain and crew lie buried here. The “Caledonia” was a ship of some 500 tons, from Scotland, which met her fate on the perilous rocks of Higher Sharpnose in 1843. In 2006 the figurehead was removed for conservation, with the intention of placing a replica in the churchyard and the conserved original inside the church.

A path leads from the church and down to the cliff edge. Here you will find the National Trust’s smallest building. “Hawker’s Hut” is built into the face of the cliff overlooking the sea out towards the island of Lundy. Here, Hawker spent many hours in contemplation, writing poetry, and smoking his opium pipe. He also entertained guests here, including Alfred Tennyson and Charles Kingsley.