Mother Ivey’s


Mother Ivey’s is a sheltered sandy beach, nestled between a privately owned holiday park and the Merope Rocks. A new RNLI boathouse with a 240-foot slipway was built at Mother Ivey’s Bay and became operational in 2006. The lifeboat is able to launch into deep water from here at any state of the tide.

Protected on three sides from the wind Mother Ivey’s is often warmer than the larger less protected beaches. However, facilities are very minimal here, there are no public car parking areas and the only access is via Harlyn Bay by foot, unless you are staying at the holiday park.

Essential Features

  • Safe sandy beach
  • Protected from winds

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What do we know about Mother Ivey?

According to local legend a wealthy family known as the Hellyer’s invoked the anger of local white witch ‘Mother Ivey’ over their refusal to help starving local villagers.

The following extract is reproduced from a collaborative work by Rosamund Derry, Luke Richards, Tom Sharpe and Christophe Philipps

The story begins with the highly lucrative pilchard processing business of the Hellyer family of Harlyn Bay, close to Padstow. Pilchards were caught, salted and packed into barrels, then shipped to Italy.

The starving villagers, implied the Hellyers, were too poor to feed themselves with the fish they (the Hellyers) had risked their lives harvesting. For the villagers, the motto carved into the granite lintel of the fish cellars – Dulcis Lucri Odor, meaning ‘Profit Smells Sweet’ – was cruelly ironic. To this day the house still bears this inscription, a grim reminder of their plight.

One fateful day in the sixteenth century, when nearby Padstow was an important fishing town, a large cargo of pilchards returned from Italy, unsold. Though past their best, the fish would have been a blessing for the starving villagers.

Mother Ivey, a local white witch and healer, approached the Hellyers and requested that they be donated to ease the villagers’ suffering. However, despite her pleas, the Hellyers denied the villagers the fish. Instead the pilchards were ploughed into a field as fertilizer.

Mother Ivey, in her wrath, cursed the field so that ‘if ever its soil was broken, death would follow’. The Hellyers however, continued to use the field as though ill convinced of the potency of such curses. This attitude was to be short-lived as whilst riding in the field a little while after, the Hellier’s eldest son was thrown from his horse and killed .

Mother Ivey’s curse, it seemed, had claimed its first victim.

During the 1970s a man using a metal detector in the field died of a heart attack, thus reviving the superstition. Shortly afterwards, local rumour has it that the foreman of a water company laying pipes in the field suffered a heart attack.

The field has been left fallow ever since.

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