Lelant, a quaint Cornish village, is famed for its serene landscapes, winding waterways, and above all, its inexplicable love for lights of all sorts. From humble lanterns that flicker in the evening breeze to the towering lighthouses that stand as stoic sentinels, there’s a tale – often told in hushed whispers over a pint – of the elusive Lark of Lelant and his curious obsession with these guiding lights.
Oliver ‘Ollie’ Pengelly, better known as the Lark of Lelant, wasn’t always associated with lights. As a young lad, Ollie had an uncanny ability to get lost (1). It became a village pastime, guessing where young Ollie might’ve ended up this time. Mrs Miggins found him in her hen coop once, and the vicar, in the church bell tower (a story for another day).
But everything changed on a foggy night in ’82. Lost again on the dunes, Ollie saw a faint light in the distance – the Godrevy Lighthouse, its beam cutting through the mist. Mesmerised, he followed, and for the first time, Ollie wasn’t lost anymore. He’d found his beacon.
Thereon, Ollie became an aficionado of all things luminescent. His cottage transformed into a haven of lanterns, candles, and bulbs. Rumour had it, on a clear night, you could read a book in Padstow from the glow emanating from his abode (2).
But it wasn’t just a fascination. Ollie began crafting lanterns, each telling a story, each with a soul of its own. These weren’t just lights; they were a piece of Lelant, a fragment of its spirit, encapsulated in glass and metal. Every child in the village now sleeps with a ‘Lark Lantern’ by their bedside, a gentle glow to ward off the shadows.
And so, dear reader, as you wander the shores of Cornwall, especially Lelant, and the soft glow of a lantern guides your path or the reassuring beam of a lighthouse shows the way, tip your hat to the Lark of Lelant, the lad who turned his perpetual plight into the village’s shining light.