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Storytelling and guiding on St Michael's Mount

29 March 2018

Creative lead, storytelling extraordinaire and guide supervisor - find out more about Jennifer Tredinnick and her role on the island.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work on the island?

I’m a local girl from Hayle and went to school in Penzance so I had the joy of driving past the island every day to and from school. After university, I returned home, formed a small local theatre company with some friends and after a few years found myself reading the local paper where there was a job advert for the Mount. It suddenly struck me that I would love to work on the island and I was amazed that I had not thought of the idea before; that was in 2012.

What is your role on the island?

I have been Creative Lead for some years now and am tasked with encouraging the guiding team to tell the stories of the island and providing the storytelling. We have a small team of storytellers who have been sourced from Cornwall College who tell stories about the Mount to our visitors during the school holidays. Some of the storytellers are about to enter their third summer season here and have even joined the guiding team so they can continue to work with us outside of the holidays. This year I have also taken on the role of Guide Supervisor and get to take care of the day to day running of the team in the Castle and village at the bottom of the island. This gives me the chance to encourage all our guides to embrace their inner storyteller and share their knowledge with our visitors.

As a storyteller, where did your creative spark begin?

I’ve always loved performing and it’s been a big part of my life since I started dance classes at the age of 3. From then I continued with my passion through learning music at school and eventually studying theatre at university. In recent years I’ve even had the opportunity of performing at the Minack Theatre. For me to get to continue my love for all things theatrical in my role at the Mount is a huge privilege.

What inspires you most about the myths, legends and stories of the area?

Being Cornish is a huge part of my identity and knowing the myths and legends of the local area feels part of my heritage. It gives me a tie to the past, a connection to all the people who have gone before. Verbal storytelling is something we have always done and it still now excites and inspires children and adults. To get to share these tales with each other keeps them alive.

How do you train your team of wonderful storytellers?

A big part of being a storyteller is learning the stories that we have to tell but more than that it is about feeling part of the island and its rich past. In order to perform our stories well the teller has to learn where the stories happened on the island and be able to place them in the long history of the Mount. As with all the guiding team and the island staff, we all become part of the story of the island and I hope our audience feels this too.

Do you have a favourite story, and if so, can you share it with us?

There are many stories that I love! I won’t tell them to you now but invite you to find them for yourself. The Lost Land of Lyonnesse – a fertile and prosperous land between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly that was lost to sea which included a vast city with 140 churches; the bells of which can still be heard off the coast on a quiet day. The Mermaid of Zennor – the love story of the mermaid Morveren and a local boy, Matthew Trewella, who she lured to come and live with her beneath the sea. 

Are there any local storytellers that inspire you?

With my background, I love theatre and in particular local companies Wildworks and Miracle Theatre Company. Their work is very different but wonderfully executed. I’m also really fond of The Story Republic which is a collective of local storytellers who have performed here on the Mount in the past.

What are the best parts about working St Michael’s Mount?

Getting to come to the Mount every day is very good for your mental wellbeing I believe. The island itself is so beautiful but the people who work here make it a very special place. Returning here after any time away always feels like coming home. As for my day to day, it has to be the boat ride to and from work. What a way to commute! The moment you sit on the boat it’s like being on holiday if only for a little while.

Where is your favourite place on the island?

This is the hardest question by far as I have many places I love on the island. On any given day my answer would change but today I will say the battlements by the castle entrance. This area to me seems timeless. The view is spectacular; the huge expanse of sea with the castle looming above. My mind wonders to times when the Mount community had to defend the coastline from invaders when the island was a busy port or even the passing of the Spanish Armada that was spotted from the summit. It makes me feel small in the vastness; not only of the landscape but in the passing of time.

Describe St Michael’s Mount in three words

Captivating, Adventure, Home