Reverend Hawker and Hawker’s Hut

When the Reverend Hawker arrived at his new parish, Morwenstow, he was shocked to find himself in a rather godless congregation full of smugglers, wreckers and other outcasts, with a church falling to pieces and a vicarage full to the brim with the latest booty of many a wrecking spree. The Cornish considered smuggling quite a decent profession and wrecking a personal right.

The Reverend Hawker, quite an eccentric figure himself, did much to change the ways of his “flock” and managed to turn most of them onto the straight path. Instead of lending a “helping hand” in deliberately guiding crippled ships onto the rocks, the parishioners now tried guiding them to safety wherever possible, and rescued whomsoever they could. Together with the Reverend, they even undertook the grimmest part of any wreck – collecting the drowned sailors, or whatever was left of them – and gave them a proper burial on hallowed grounds. People like him slowly, but surely, changed the ways of the locals and, with that, the cruelty of wrecking came to an end.

Instead, the first tentative attempts at sea rescues came to life. The Reverend Hawker is probably best known for his poems, especially “The Song of the Western Men”, which is now the Cornish Anthem. He wrote this, and many other verses in his little hut close to the cliffs, which was built entirely of driftwood. It was his private inspirational retreat and the hut can still be seen today.  Now passed into the ownership of the National Trust, it is the smallest property on their list!


 

Hawkers Hut is mentioned in The Guardian

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