I almost called this blog "Some strange mermaid stories from Dorset" but some of these accounts may be of dugong or manatees though what a manatee may be doing on the coast of Dorset is probably unanswerable.
All these stories can be found in Dorset Customs ,Curiosities and Countryside by Mary Brown (1990)
" A mermaid captured in Greece in 1775 was said to be very beautiful with blue eyes and white teeth with fish-like gills for ears. She had a beautiful "membrane" running from her temples like a headdress instead of the usual long golden hair. She had female breasts but no nipples, and no nails on her fingers. From the waist down she was like a cod-fish with three sets of fins. She was only three feet long including her tail, and was said to have an enchanting voice. It is not surprising to learn that this example too,was believed to be a fraud.(1)
Cornwall ,as one would expect, is rich in mermaid stories. The most famous one concerns the `Mermaid of Zennor` who, disguised as a beautiful woman used to regularly attend services in the church . All the congregation were agog at her marvellous singing voice. Finally she tempted away the best tenor in the choir, who was never seen again. A representation of her was carved on an ancient bench end, now made into a chair, in Zennor church. Dorset`s most famous mermaid does not compare to her in beauty. Hutchins described her with what Treves calls `scientific solemnity`. She was thrown ashore at Burton Bradstock in June 1757,and Hutchins says...
"...This romantic individual, being no less than 13 feet in height or length, was evidently a giant of the species. Her upper or better half had a human form, while her extremity was that of a fish. The head of this unhappy creature was partly like that of a man and partly like that of a hog. Her fins resembled hands. She had a masculine jaw-bone and 48 teeth in both the upper and the lower jaw." (2)
1. Dorset Customs,Curiosities and Country-Lore Mary Brown (1990) p.65
2. Ibid p.65