ON the western side of the Mount's Bay, between the fishing. towns of Newlyn and Mousehole, is the well-known anchoring-place known by the above name. It is not a little curious that any part of the ocean should have been called a lake. Tradition, however, helps us to an explanation. Between the land on the western side of the bay, and St Michael's Mount on the eastern side, there, at one time, extended a forest of beech-trees. Within this forest, on the western side, was a large lake, and on its banks a hermitage. The saint of the lake was celebrated far and near for his holiness, and his small oratory was constantly resorted to by the diseased in body and the afflicted in mind. None ever came in the true spirit who failed to find relief. The prayers of the saint and the waters of the lake removed the severest pains from the limbs and the deepest sorrows from the mind. The young were strengthened and the old revived by their influences. The great flood, however, which separated the Islands of Scilly from England, submerged the forest, and destroyed the lands enclosing this lovely and almost holy lake, burying beneath the waters church and houses, and destroying alike the people and the priest. Those who survived this sad catastrophe built a church on the hill and dedicated it to the saint of the lake--or in Cornish, St Pol -- modernised into St Paul. [a]
In support of this tradition, we may see, of a fine summer day, when the tide is low and the waters clear, the remains of a forest in the line passing from St Michael's Mount to Gwavas. At, neap-tides the author has gathered beech-nuts from the sands below Chyandour, and cut the wood from the trees embedded in the sand. [b]
[a] Gwavas Lake. It is said that within historic times, tithes, or an equivalent for them, were collected from the land which surrounded this lake. I have been informed that the parish books of St Paul record the collection of tithes from lands which have disappeared. I applied for information on this point to the rector of the parish, but he has not yet favoured me with a reply.
[b] I have passed in a boat from St Michael's Mount to Penzance on a summer day, when the waters were very clear, and the tide low, and seen the black masses of trees in the white sands extending far out into the bay. On one occasion, while I was at school at Penzance, after a violent equinactial gale, large trunks of trees were thrown up on the shore, just beyond Cbyandour, and then with the other boys I went, at the lowest of the tide, far out over the sands, and saw scores of trees embedded iu the sands. We gathered nuts--they were beech-nuts--and leaves in abundance. It is not a little remarksble,--if it be true, as I am informed it is,--that the trees found in the Pentuan Stream Works, under some fifty or sixty feet of sand and silt, are beech-trees, and that they were destroyed when the fruit was upon them. I learn, that not far from Hull in Yorkshire there exists a submerged forest, where also the beech-trees evidently perished in the autumn. In Cardigan Bay a large tract of country in said to have been lost. May not all these traditions and evidences relate to one great cataclysm? See "A Week at the Land's End," by J. T. Blight, for an account of the submerged wood near Lariggan Rocks, between Penzance and Newlyn.