Dolly Pentreath was one of the last, if not the last, native Cornish speakers. She claimed that Cornish was her only language until she was 20 or so.
She lived in Mousehole and died there in 1777. Or she lived and died in Paul, the village just above Mousehole...in other versions. She probably did both, although obviously she only died in one place!
You can read more about her on the Wiki page There is a lack of absolute facts, which is not really surprising given that she was just an ordinary woman...and one who had a child outside marriage.
Whether she lived and/or died in Mousehole or not, there is certainly a house (well, part of a house) in the ancient heart of the village with a plaque stating that she did. It is just down the 'street' from the truly ancient Keigwin House.
Mousehole harbour is a lovely spot, with plenty to watch (always the same with harbours) and a good view out to see as well.
If you are visiting in winter there are rather good Christmas lights too...it's a Mousehole tradition. They don't just decorate the harbour edge but create floating displays...a dinosaur and (I think) a whale when I visited.
Perhaps sit on the harbour edge and gaze across to St Clement's Isle, a large cluster of rocks where a hermit supposedly lived in ancient times (presumably St Clement?). Now you'll just see hundreds of seabirds roosting...
You might see a dolphin or a porpoise..or a whale...though the chances of that is slim. You'll certainly see wonderful skyscapes though..I was amazed at how 'big' the Cornish skies were.
You can sit outside the Ship Inn with a pint if the weather is good (or inside if it isn't) and still enjoy views across the water.
If you walk the narrow lanes around the heart of Mousehole, near the harbour, you will get a feel for what the village was like when its life revolved around the sea and fishing.
Cottages built from local stone, with thick walls and tiny windows to provide shelter from the weather. Most stand sideways on to the sea, in the main, for shelter from the wind. Hardly any gardens for there is little land to spare at the heart of a busy fishing and shipping community (at one stage Mousehole was more important than Penzance) and anyway no need to grow one's own vegetables if the community is wealthy from its fishing.
Narrow alleys and streets, with houses huddled together... no traffic wider than a horse and cart, so only the main street in and out needed to be that wide.
I didn't explore much further out from the ancient centre, but you can see on the surrounding hills how the village grew outwards from the late 1800s onwards. The coming of the railway to Penzance (in 1852) opened up the whole Cornish peninsula to those who wished to visit, to retire, to move to scenic surroundings, to spend their summers by the sea...and it shows in the architecture.
It is in the area around the harbour where you will truly get a glimpse of Mousehole as it once was.
It's tucked away on Keigwin Street, near the harbour, but is well worth seeking out.
It is rare indeed that such an old house survives in the UK. This one dates back to the 1300s, although it has obviously undergone changes over the centuries.
The light and its position made photographs difficult, but you can see the wonderful stone pillars which support the porch, and the ancient stone windowframe...and, if you visit, you will be able to see more details, of course.
The house is named after Squire Jenkyn Keigwin. A plaque states he was killed there on 23 July 1595, defending the house against the Spaniards. Mousehole was burned but the house spared.
The house is in private ownership (I saw no evidence of it being 'The Keigwin Arms' pub, but I believe it may once have been so). Even so, it is still worth looking for...you won't find many similar buildings.
It isn't very hard - they're everywhere! Let the kids pet a few of them, tell them the famous tale of the Mousehole cat, and just enjoy the quirkiness of the whole thing. As you can see from the snap at the left, Mousehole cats love milk. Bring some kitty treats or some milk when you come, and while you're strolling around the tiny town feed a few of the local cats. This could be especially fun if you have kids. They'll love you for it - the cats and the kids.