Living with Crazy Kate on Fish Street

Every day, the tide washes up across the stones in the harbour and touches the cottage in which I live. I’m blessed to call the picture-perfect fishing village of Clovelly my home ~ World famous for its donkeys and steep, cobbled, traffic-free street which tumbles down to an ancient, working harbour.


The description of our cottage on the Clovelly website is as follows:

“Kate Lyall, known as Crazy Kate, died in 1736. Her pretty cottage with its picturesque balcony overlooking the harbour is said to be the oldest in Clovelly. Kate’s husband was a fisherman, and she would watch him from her upper window as he fished in the bay. One day, a terrible squall blew up and he was drowned before her eyes.

This terrible sight drove her mad, and she remained demented until the day of her death. On that tragic day, she put on her wedding dress and walked into the sea to join her husband in his watery grave.”


Clovelly is a village like no other ~ Like stepping back in time, the village has hardly changed in a hundred years. Historic paintings and beautiful vintage photographs could easily depict the village today.

It’s likely that you’ve visited Clovelly at some point (it certainly seems like most people have!) and if you’ve visited, you will know just how enchanting the village is. If you haven’t heard of it, take a look!

I’ve had the honour of living in three houses situated on the cobbled street. Each beautiful whitewashed cottage is totally unique and with its own place in Clovelly history.

Moving in Clovelly is worthy of its own blog (in fact I may well blog about that soon!). Any one who has visited Clovelly will know that the village is built on a very steep, cobbled street. Vehicles are banned from the cobbles and residents use purpose-built sledges to transport shopping etc. to our houses. Moving is no exception and all belongings are sledged down the hill!


Over the years, I have amassed a collection of gorgeous, vintage postcards showing each of the Clovelly houses I have lived in. What a joy it is to delight in how little the village has changed in the past century and I have felt compelled to discover more about the Clovellians captured in the photographs, all those years ago.

For a short while, I lived in Rat’s Castle. A tiny cottage, perched on the edge of the Clovelly cliff. My first experience of living in the village, I quickly became used to hearing visitors exclaim the name Rat’s Castle and this was the first time I encountered visitors trying to walk into our home! (Some visitors mistakenly think that the cottages are open to the public, and several times I have met people who expect Clovelly residents to be dressed in period costume!)

I also lived on Independent Street for several years. A hidden gem in Clovelly. Quiet and peaceful, my beloved ‘Indie Street’ will always hold a special place in my heart ~ Both of my babies were born during my time on Indie Street and I found the most incredible friend in my next door neighbour. We’ve been on some adventures I can tell you… In fact one day, I may well blog about our friendship.

We moved into ‘Crazy Kate’s’ just in time to enjoy the exceptionally beautiful weather this summer. We spent every moment we could, swimming from the slip and my children searched tirelessly for ‘treasure’ on the beach. (They’re yet to discover any “real pirate treasure”, but our flower pots are now peppered with beautiful old bits of broken crockery and all manner of ‘precious’ flotsam and jetsam!).


My children are young and Clovelly provides the most magical backdrop for their childhood adventures, I cannot think of a finer place to inspire their vivid imaginations. How incredible to grow up in a house so intimately connected with the sea, so intrinsically linked to the tides, the weather and the wonderful characters associated with Clovelly life.

As the village takes on the beautiful golden hues of autumn, I have been warned by my neighbours that soon the stormy winter tides could wash right up onto Fish Street, and it’s important for us to have boards to put at the doors ‘just in case’! I know from having lived higher up the cobbled street, that it doesn’t happen often, but if there is a storm during a high tide, it’s important to protect this incredible property.


I love talking to the Clovelly fishermen. Fiercely proud of their heritage, the beautifully told and incredible tales can give overwhelming feelings of hope and contentment, making me laugh or just as easily filling me with sadness as they recount the stories of love, life and loss.


The time we live in our houses is transient and I love the saying ‘We only ever borrow a home’.

I often overhear visitors discussing the house and thinking out loud about life in Clovelly. It wasn’t so long ago that I looked on from the harbour, daydreaming about what it would be like to live in a house like this…


Clovelly history is very much a part of every day life and I take great comfort in living hand in hand with history.


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