Mythical Monday: The Magical Kingdom of Lyonnesse by Mae Clair

In the days when King Arthur ruled Camelot, an island nation flourished off the coast of Cornwall, among the Scilly Isles. Lyonnesse was a magical kingdom blessed with all things beautiful and abundant. The climate remained ideal year-round, resulting in lush orchards and fertile farmland. Beehives oozed honey and cows produced rich, thick cream. Even the poorest among the populace lived in charming cottages nestled among verdant gardens.

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Trade thrived between England and Lyonnesse, and although practitioners of white magic were common, the dark arts were unknown.

Some believe Lyonnesse was the home of Tristan, and that he was prince of this enchanted land. It doesn’t surprise me, given what I know of Prince Tristan.  His legend has long been a favorite of mine. Last February, I did a post about his doomed love affair with Iseult: Mythical Monday: Heartbreak and Valor. As tragic as their love was, perhaps it’s equally fitting Lyonnesse was eventually claimed by the cold waters of the Atlantic.

No one knows exactly how or why the island vanished, only that it sank into the sea around the time of King Arthur’s death. How sad to think that Camelot and this place of grace and beauty vanished nearly simultaneously. Perhaps, with the demise of Arthur’s shining dream, the nobility and virtue of Lyonnesse could not continue.

It is not, however, forgotten. Passing fishermen know to listen closely on a quiet day. When all is still, legend says you can hear the church bells of Lyonnesse tolling a dirge beneath the waves.

17 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Magical Kingdom of Lyonnesse by Mae Clair

  1. What a wonderful place! It sounds idyllic right about now. Man, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this winter! LOL It is MIGHTY up here in northern Michigan. There are so many stories that surround Sir/King Arthur, that a man has inspired so much is incredible to me. Lovely post Mae!

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    • I spent the last three days battling snow and single digit temps. I’m with you, Cd. I could use a little Lyonesse right about now, LOL. And King Arthur? He’s my favorite historical/ fictional character (with Robin Hood a close second). Arthur was such an idealist and visionary with an extraordinary sense of honor. I love how his legend still inspires today.

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    • Isn’t the photo beautiful? I couldn’t resist it. It seemed to exemplify a land of enchantment. Oh, and I’m always delighted to encounter someone enamored of Tristan and his lady love 🙂

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      • I saw above where you mentioned Robin Hood. The old British tv show played in reruns on Saturday morning when I was little– the one with Jane Asher and Richard Greene. I’d watch it and then spend the rest of the morning crawling under the tables and over the chairs in my mom’s restaurant playing Robin Hood. Luckily the eating public also liked the merry bandit.

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    • Wouldn’t it be amazing if this wondrous city was discovered someday? I just had the wildest story pop in my head based on your comment. Thanks, Debbie 🙂 Like you, Lyonesse is a favorite of mine

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  2. I love the legend of Tris and Issie, so desperately sad. The women of Lyonnesse were said to be beautiful beyond compare. The sunken lands are fascinating. Standing on the top of the cliffs at Tintage it is possible to imagine the shining place Lyonnesse may have been. Perhaps one day we might find proof.

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    • I’ve heard that too about the women, and how many knights would visit the castles in seek of rest after long or tiring quests. I love your description of it. I often wonder if Tolkien had Lyonesse in mind when he created Mina’s Tirith in its glory days. I often think that is how Boromir must have imagined it.

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      • Yes, the White city surely has a touch of Lyonnesse about it. The romance of it all is magical. I like the refrences to Lyonnesse in La Mort d’Arthur. Lovely thoughts.

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  3. Church bells ringing under the waves, that creates a quite dramatic visual and audible sense of scene. I can just imaging a low metallic thunk and reverberation, the sound undulating with the movement of the water.

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  4. I always think of the sound of waves as musical. I can imagine the sound of bells underwater as I stand on the shore. There are so many great legends and stories surrounding Great Britain. This one might be my favorite. Thanks for sharing, Mae.

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    • Thanks for visiting, Gemma. I think all those legends steeped in the folklore of Great Britain must come the dense history. I’m in awe of the myriad and rich legends to be found there. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. 🙂

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