Annie Frost and Mary Searle
Teenage servant girls who drowned at Crantock
23rd June 1908
Unexpectedly large waves led to a disastrous ending of a trip to Crantock beach, back in the summer of 1908.
Mary Jane Searle and Annie Frost - from Penzance & Sussex, respectively, were part of a group from Rosewin Training School for servants - based in Truro and run by the nuns of Epiphany - who were holidaying at the Manor House, West Pentire, when tragedy struck.
Towards the end of their holiday, a picnic at the well in Crantock was followed by a visit to the beach but, as described in local newspaper reports at the time, not long after they had settled on rocks set above the falling tide, two or three exceptionally large waves crashed over the rocks and washed numerous girls in to the water. Some of the older girls were able to swim back to the rocks, or were strong enough to hold on to the rock and scramble to dry land, but three of the younger girls - Mary, Annie and Dorothy Wood - were not able to swim and were washed further out. One of the sisters from the school - Sister Emilie, who was around 50 years old, and had been in charge of the training school for 16 years - was unable to swim, but from the edge of the rocks tried to reach out to help the young girls. She fell in, hit her head on a rock, and was washed out to sea; her body was recovered near Port Issac over two weeks later. Rescuers were unable to reach Mary and Annie, but Dorothy was pulled out of the sea by Captain Fenton, a gentleman who was staying at the same hotel as the School group. The bodies of Mary and Annie were found in the sea on the 4th and 6th of July, respectively, and were fittingly laid to rest here in Crantock, within sight of the church they had attended together with their guardians on the morning of their tragic end.