The White Lady  -   Ship's Figurehead

 

 

                    

This figure-head stood in the garden of Lewin's Hill (better known as White Lady Cottage) at Thistleboon, Mumbles, until the mid 1960s. The house was demolished and replaced by a modern building and the figure-head vanished. I was told that it had been sold to a London dealer.

 

Over the years people have often wondered where it came from. Apparently a house in West Cross, Mumbles, had quite a collection of figure-heads at the end of the nineteenth century and some people thought it came from there.

 

I was also told that it had been found washed up in Limeslade.

 

I have another possibility.

On 21 December 1880 one of the Mumbles oyster skiffs picked up a female figure-head six feet in length which was found floating in the channel. Now which vessel was it from?  Well a little over two weeks earlier there was a collision further down channel, off Trevose on the Cornish coast, between the steamship Edendale, of Sunderland (718 tons register) and the Swansea barque Galatea (of 353 tons). The Galatea was bound from Swansea for Cape Town with a cargo of coal and a crew of twelve. The Edendale also had a coal cargo and was bound from Newport to Venice.

 

Though it was midday and the weather was clear the barque was struck bow-on by the steamer which cut four feet into the deck. The barque began to settle straight away. Her crew climbed across to the steamer and the Galatea sank within the hour. The Edendale continued her passage and put into Falmouth to land the Galatea's crew.

 

Now who was Galatea?  Well this Greek name means "she who is milk white".

 

In mythology Galatea was a nereid or sea nymph.

 

So perhaps the White Lady  in the garden of Lewin's Hill   was   Galatea    -  she who is milk white.

 

My great friend Frank Rott lived near the cottage and we often stood at the gate gazing at the White Lady before walking along Higher Lane, then down through the Well Field, on our way to Langland.