Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Wembury Unwed

On the south coast of Devon, not far from Plymouth, is a village called Wembury. If you drive through the village, heading towards the coast, there is a narrow road which leads to a car park that overlooks Wembury beach and the triangular island which lies 500m off shore called the Mewstone.

Wembury beach is very rocky. Marine biologists and school children of all ages can often be found examining its many rock pools, but they have to time it right because when the tide is in, the entire beach disappears under the sea. There is also a small marine centre, public toilets, a parish church and a tiny tea house on the edge of the beach.

The church is in a picturesque location and extremely popular for wedding ceremonies, as I would imagine most coastal churches are (last I heard there is a 4 year waiting list for this church). I'd heard certain rumours from a couple of people I know who used to live in Wembury about something that happened in the 1980's, so I arranged to have a talk with one of the reverends about the history of the church and the beach. I also wanted to ask the reverend if he knew of any occurrence that might qualify as an aquageist. His answers verified the rumours I'd heard.

The reverend told me how in 1985 a lovable group of people arrived at the church to rehearse a wedding. The groom was there with his family and best man, the bride was there with her family and bridesmaids. The rehearsals went fine but longer than scheduled. By the time they were finished the night had drawn in. The families finally parted company and returned home, except the bride and groom, they stayed behind.

What happened next is pure speculation. From the evidence found at the scene (their clothes bundled on the edge of the beach) it had been deduced that under the moonlight they stripped nude and, undeterred by the coldness of the sea, they entered the water. It must have been romantic: the moonlight dancing on the water; the silhouettes of the church behind them and the Mewstowe in front of them; the wedding just around the corner. As they swam alone the future must have seemed exciting and bright.

It is assumed that the young lovers got caught in a strong riptide that dragged them out to sea. Their bodies were recovered by a coast guard who found them washed up on to the Mewstowe’s southerly shore. The coast guard was reported have found them with their arms locked around each other.

The aquageist that has resulted from this tragedy has manifested itself in a unusual way. There is no ghost per se; nor is there a presence in the water. What happens is, at dusk on the 15th of October every year, once the hightide has receded, a collection of seaweed remains on the shore, not far from where the lovers’ clothes were found; the gathering of seaweed is mysteriously sculpted into a shape that resembles two naked lovers entwined. As of yet there are no photographs of this aquageist but I do know that the relatives of the deceased groom and bride hold a vigil on the beach every night on the 15th of October.

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