The story of Jowan Trelawney

The last in the line of a wealthy Cornish mining family, Caradoc Basset dies in mysterious circumstances. A distantly related heir to his vast fortune and manor house in Cornwall is found, Morwenna Basset. But the fortune is not all she inherits. She also inherits a 400 year old curse from Jowan Trelawney. Morwenna must find a way to lay the ghost to rest, or face the same terrifying end as Caradoc Basset”

Welcome to Tarosvadnow, a film short created by The Ambience Factory, a leading independent film music studio in darkest Cornwall. Tarosavadnow is the ancient Cornish language word for ghosts.

The Cornish language, like Welsh, reflects the culture and landscape of Cornwall and how it reflects the world that the ancient native speakers lived in.

That world was one of superstition, thinly disguised ancient Celtic traditions adopted by the local early Christians, extreme danger, a wildly unpredictable climate on a desolate peninsula on the edge of the Atlantic ocean where storms were often fatal.

Cut off from the world with no reliable roads or safe passage into our out of the county, it was a world of total isolation and fear with smugglers, wreckers and highway robbers. It was also a land of great poverty and riches.

The landed gentry ruthlessly exploited the Cornish, men, women and children, to mine the riches of the tin, copper, silver and gold in Cornwall or the riches of the sea.

This reached a head in 1497 when the poor marched on London asking for fair wages. The English government forces slaughtered at least 4000 unarmed Cornish men, women and children to quell the rebellion.

It is against this backdrop that a poor but honest man, Jowan Trelawney worked in a mine to support his family, barely earning enough to keep them fed.

Miners were paid in currencies owned and issued by the mines. The miners could only buy goods and services from the mine families, so they could never improve their lives. They were in effect slaves, and considered expendable.

One day, Jowan complained the mine was unsafe, the mine owners ignored him and he and 101 other men were killed.

While he was dying, he swore his revenge upon the mine owners family, which started a curse that runs to this day.

Tarosvadnow is in part the story of Jowan Trelawney’s revenge against the last in the line of the mine owners family, and in part a story that echoes modern day poverty in Cornwall.

The story of the Cornish has been lost as wealthy people try to recast the county as a mini California, but in many ways, the exploration continues.

The continued social injustice and exploitation continues via the tourist economy. Homes now cost more than 20 times the average income, of £12,000 a year, meaning many can’t afford a place to live. We have a government who could not care less about us and the EU, who tried to help the county and invested billions here are gone, voted out by the very people they wanted to help.

Above all, Tarosvadnow is also a fine ghost story, a story of love and revenge, redemption and forgiveness and understanding across great reaches of time.