The first episode sets the scene, demonstrating the extent to which Cornwall is renowned for its folklore. Rather than discard stories that seem ‘nonsensical’, this episode attempts to unravel some of Cornwall’s magical places – such as St Nectan’s Glen, Tintagel, Padstow’s Doom Bar and Zennor. By recognising how far the sea and the church not only influences but often sits at the heart of famous myths and legends, historians can decipher why mermaids, giants and chivalric knights have emerged from certain places. What’s more, an important characteristic of Cornish folklore is the fact that stories travelled by early Celtic traders and pilgrims and were retold by Cornish storytellers, otherwise known as droll tellers. To further celebrate this narrative, the film includes a variety of folksingers from Cornwall today, from the well-known Harry Glasson to an all–female acapella group ‘Figurehead’ and two Penzance-born sisters, Martha and Rosa Woods.
The most important aspect of the first episode resides in its ending, which takes an alternative look into how many tales travelled the Atlantic as a result of Cornwall’s participation in the slave trade. Dr Richard Anderson, Lecturer in Colonial and Post-Colonial History, discusses at Penryn’s St Gluvias Church, how evidence such as graves and ecclesiastical records can reveal much about the African diaspora in Cornwall, from as early as the Tudor period. The research of Dr Charlotte Mackenzie is also particularly interesting here, who has made direct parallels between Sir Rose Price of Trengwainton Estate and Charlotte Brontë’s characters in her novel ‘Jane Eyre’. Undergraduate students such as Yaz Fosu and Natalie Wragg further discuss the notion of identity in Cornwall’s past and present and why it is imperative to not rose-tint these particular narratives of Cornwall’s past.