Looe is steeped in many old legends, ranging from ghosts, smugglers to hidden man-made caves that exist in both the local cliffs and buried deep beneath streets of the old town.
Looe has a rich history, and its fair share of ghost stories and folk legends too, many of which have been passed down through the generations.
I wanted to share with you one ghost story from Looe in particular, a sad and dark tale… and that is the tale of The White Hare of Looe.
The White Hare of Looe is said to be both an ill omen and warning of bad weather. Should you come across this phantom on your bleary-eyed stagger home from the pub, it is best you turn on your heel and run. It is said that the White Hare – a ghostly apparition – is the spirit of a girl that committed suicide and she has remained here to eke her revenge on the living – especially men.
Intrepid reader, drinker, and male… heed the words of the past and take note of old wives tales whispered down through years.
Do not wander alone on this dark street, for small malevolent eyes may be watching you from the shadows.
And should they fix upon you with their hateful intent, only misfortune can follow.
A ghost story from West Looe
The White Hare of Looe is said to wander the road between Talland Bay and the Jolly Sailor. The Jolly Sailor is one of the oldest pubs in Looe which is packed with locals and tourists in the pleasant summer months, many blissfully unaware of what has come to pass.
The White Hare that haunts the road on the hill, is born from a story of jealousy and sadness. If you are a cowardly and unfaithful man – your fate will be marked.
The White hare of West Looe is said to be the ghost of a girl called Sarah who was deeply in love with one of the lads of the town. The lad was jolly, easily bored and his attention started to wonder ‘elsewhere’.
After he had promised to marry Sarah – the wedding was called off as he had fallen for another local girl called Sally. Sally was the barmaid at the Jolly Sailor which is located at the bottom of West Looe hill.
Once Sarah discovered that her lover had fallen for one of the other local pretty girls it was too much for her to bear.
Humiliated and stricken with grief, Sarah died – committed suicide.
But that was not the end of Sarah, she allegedly assumed the ghostly form of the White Hare and she would come to haunt that old road.
Sarah’s envy was so great, her humiliation too painful to bear that it continued beyond death. Unable to express her pain through words, she started to follow her former lover too and from the Jolly Sailor.
Often, a White Hare would turn up at the pub to find the young lad and his new fancy. Much to his embarrassment, the locals found this entertaining to watch and the lad was of sensitive nature and didn’t take the heckling well.
Deep down the lad suspected that the White Hare was much more than a friendly animal looking for his affection. For its sorrowful eyes told him all he needed to know.
The White Hare gazed into his as his eyes and weighed his soul.
For now, the hare was neither his friend nor a mere animal.
After a short time, the seaming healthy young lad died from an unknown illness. Therein, it was said if you were to meet the white hare that it would befall bad luck and misfortune and in some cases … death.
As the tale goes…
Perhaps you should take a carrot with you for a ward intrepid drinker for what little use it will be to you. If you are foolish enough to look for an omen and welcome misery, you just as well feed it a carrot!
Where to find the White Hare of Looe
This ghost haunts the road between Talland Bay and the Jolly Sailor in West Looe. If you must look for trouble start at the foot of the hill by the Jolly Sailor pub. The ghost is said to haunt this part of town because the husband to be, ran off with the barmaid from the Jolly Sailor and so – she – the spurned one, has returned to the origins of her sadness.
If you see the White Hare…
Men beware, for if seen, this can be a terrible omen. Jilted and humiliated by her husband to be, Sarah is said to curse those that she approaches – especially men.
If you see a White Hare running down the hill toward the Jolly Sailor do not meet its stare. For it could be the last thing you see…
Artwork inspired folklore | White Hare of Looe
In light of the local legend which tells the story of the White Hare – an ill omen, a rejected lover, I created an illustration as part of a folklore exhibition which was held in the guildhall.
To pay homage to this local folktale, I wanted to produce a piece of artwork that captures the sinister undertones of the ghostly folk story. At a glance, yes this is just a white hare – or rabbit. But on closer inspection I wanted the viewer to see the blood-red eyes of the creature.
I wanted the Hare to have an almost human gaze, that once met, you would remember.
This piece of artwork is a mixed-media piece, combining: pencil, markers, and digital painting techniques whilst employing many traditional drawing and painting methods.
I’m happy for the image to look as rough / human as possible, even leaving some of the pencil lines to be seen here and there.
Opinions on the ghost story
I love a folktale as much as the next person and Looe is packed with them!
Do I believe that there is ghostly white hair of a young woman? I highly doubt it personally and I have drunk in the Jolly Sailor on many occasions. But who knows, there could be some grain of truth to the story and it could be sad one if so.
Still… although I don’t strictly believe in it as such.
But, you won’t be able to help but look over your shoulder now on a cool dark night. Was that cat that just brushed up against my leg? Or the White Hare?
Best not to look down at your bare legs…
Other Folk Artworks
Thank you for reading this artwork. The White Hare of West Looe hill is just one many.
I have attached a couple of other links you may also like to read of a similar nature.
Thank you for reading. If you get the chance I would advise visiting the pub and staying in the town. If you feel brave enough.