Bolster's Basin,Chapel Porth, St Agnes
Giant Bolster's cliff face profile, Chapel Porth.


Bolster was a gigantic giant, he had long gangly legs stretching like saplings, and he would stand with one huge smelly foot on St Agnes Beacon and the other on Carn Brae. His legs stretched six miles apart. Bolster wasn’t a kind community minded Cornish Giant; Bolster was a bully and Bolster was a wind up. His favourite person to tease was his latest wife.

Gather all the stones at the bottom of the hill and bring them up to me,’ he shouted down at his wife.

She looked about for a bucket and thought she had better go and fetch one.

No,’ said Bolster meanly. ‘Collect the stones in your apron.’

Mrs Bolster carried stones all day, she cried and cried.

Bolster’s eyes were beady as a chough’s and he noticed every movement along the Cornish Coast. Nothing and no one escaped Giant Bolster’s eager eyes, especially pretty maids passing by.

Bolster’s great bare feet padded across the cliffs and sometimes his feet itched. He really needed someone to tickle his feet and his toes but that particular day there was no one to be seen. He stood frozen, arms a buffer to the sea wind, that pushed and riled with bitter claws. Bolster felt wretched and Bolster felt old, what Bolster wanted was a fair wind, and a kind voice in his ear, what he really wanted was someone to love.

Agnes was beautiful as a sea shell, her smile warm as toasted crumpets. Bolster saw her and thought Agnes a very lovely maid, and he asked her to help him.

Tickle my toes,’ Bolster boomed down at Agnes.

She smiled politely up at him, thinking this a very strange request. This said, she allowed him to lift her up in one of his giant hands and she smiled again and as she smiled a fair wind blew and a warm sun appeared and Bolster knew she was the one.

St Agnes was known for being a woman of virtue and she was extremely shrewd when it came to eager men. Giants, she thought, were no different. Agnes could deal with Bolster’s affections.

Bolster creased up his face into a creaky grin, he tried to make his eyes look doe like, he hoped Agnes would think him a kind and chivalrous giant.

I be in love with you, Agnes,‘ he said, soppily.

Is that so?’ she said.

Do you think you could love me?’ he said, hopefully.

You are a married man, Bolster.’

I will sing to you, my beauty,’ he grinned.

Now Agnes had heard Bolster’s singing before, booming along the shoreline, and Agnes thought she had a better idea.

I will need you to prove your love, Mr Bolster,’ she smiled. ‘I have a challenge for you.’

Oh goodie,’ said the giant. ‘I love a challenge.’

At Chapel Porth, there is a hole in the cliff at the end of the valley. If you can fill the hole with your blood, you will prove your love for me.’

Bolster knew he was a gigantic giant and surely, he had rivers of blood raging through his veins, ‘Yes my sweet, Agnes,’ he said. ‘Show me this place.’

Agnes led Bolster to the cliff at Chapel Porth, and Bolster lay down with his arm across the hole. Bolster’s arm dripped a drop of blood, then from Bolster’s arm flowed a stream of blood, then from Bolster’s arm raged a river of blood and Bolser fainted with the effort, his huge form lay in front of Agnes and Agnes waited.

Surely my blood has filled the hole,’ said Bolster wearily when he woke.

Surely,’ said Agnes with a smile.

The giant Bolster bled and bled and bled till the sea turned red, trying to win the heart of beautiful and cunning Agnes, and in doing so he died.

Agnes became St Agnes, had a villiage nearby named after her, and every year in May the people of the village celebrate the tale of Bolster and Agnes at St Agnes Beacon.


Retold by Anna Chorlton

Source Robert Hunt 'Popular Romances from the West of Emgland'

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