The stone church in Zennor was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and includes a tower and small broody graveyard that feels just like out of a Bronte book.
Inside, visitors can find one of the most intriguing features: a bench-end with carvings of fish on the seat and a woman admiring herself in a mirror; this is the “Mermaid Chair.” The wooden seat dates back possibly to the 15th century. It is carved from oak, and depicts a woman with long hair and a curvaceous figure, but in place of human legs she has a scaly tail with fins. In her hands she holds a comb and mirror because isn't that what mermaids do? Sit on rocks and comb their hair?
According to local lore, a beautiful and richly dressed woman would attend services over the course of many years. No one knew where she came from and she never seemed to age. One day the mysterious woman took a fancy to the churchwarden’s son, Mathew Trewella, who followed her home after service one fine morning. The two were never seen again.
One version of the story says that the bench was carved to warn young men not to be tempted by mysterious women. Another version says that the mermaid chair was the very bench on which the mystery woman sat to entice young Matthew. Jeez. Mermaids sure get a bad rap.