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East Looe, Cornwall

Historical Description

Looe, East, a small seaport town, a parish, and a chapelry in St Martin's parish, Cornwall. The town stands on the E side of the mouth of the river Looe, 7 miles from Menheniot station on the G.W.R., and 8 S by E of Liskeard, was made a market-town so early as the time of Henry II., sent twenty ships with 315 seamen to the siege of Calais in the time of Edward III., was then the only seaport of any consequence in Cornwall except Fowey, claims to be a borough by prescription, received a charter from Elizabeth, and returned two members to Parliament from Elizabeth's time till disfranchised by the Act of 1832. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office, and three banks; carried on for some time a considerable trade with France, Spain, and the Mediterranean; and is noted for its pilchard fishery. Indeed the town depends on the pilchard curing, the fish being sent in ban-els to the Italian market It conducts a coasting business in the import of coal, calm, and limestone, and in the export of fish, bark, granite, and tin, copper, and lead ores; has an excellent harbour and quay defended by a small battery and breastwork; has mineral railway communication up to Moorswater and to the great Cheesewring granite quarries, and a branch line from Liskeard to the main line of the G.W.R. There are two hotels and three inns, a weekly market on Saturday, and a fair on 6 May. East Looe was long noted for a picturesque fifteen-arched bridge built in 1400 and 423 feet long, now replaced by a less interesting but more commodious structure. The church is a building of limestone erected in 1882 on the site of the old chapel; it is in the Perpendicular style, with an ancient tower, and has a richly decorated interior. There are United Methodist and Wesleyan chapels. The town has a new guildhall, mechanics' institute with library, a freemasons' lodge, and lifeboat station. There is a reading-room in the old guildhall. The town occupies a romantic site in a deep recess overhung by garden-clad acclivities, was before the formation of a new road along the water-side approached from the E by a path so steep that strangers in descending felt as if they would be precipitated on the roofs of the houses, and presents a strange jumble of curious houses massed irregularly in short narrow streets or alleys. "Such houses!" exclaims an intelligent visitor. " Never, certainly, except in some mediaeval town abroad, have we encountered such startling illustrations of the ideas of the old house-builders. Gables, quaint and ragged as Mr Ruskin could wish or Turner could have painted, staircases of wood and of masonry outside of the houses instead of inside, quaint and picturesque porches, hanging gardens on the sides of the hills, and a general arrangement of the several tenements or rather want of arrangement, singularly fitted for the pencil, but as directly opposed to all our modern notions of order, and as inconvenient for all purposes of drainage as possibly could be." The place of late years, however, has come into favour as a seaside resort, having a splendid beach, which is very safe for bathing and boating, and owing to the number of visitors in the summer many improvements have been made, Including the building of a hotel, new houses and shops. The view of the town and its environs from the seaside is very striking, and several views in the vicinity, particularly one in the inlet of Trelawney Mill, opening into the Looe river immediately above the bridge is exquisitely beautiful. Acreage of the civil parish, 70; population, 1419; of the ecclesiastical district, with West Looe, 2430. The chapelry ecclesiastically includes West Looe, bears the name of East and West Looe, and was constituted in 1842. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro, with West Looe annexed; value, £170 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Truro.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCornwall 
Poor Law unionLiskeard 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for East Looe from the following:


Online maps of East Looe are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cornwall papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

We have a copy of The Visitations of Cornwall, by Lieut.-Col. J.L. Vivian online.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtPL13
Post TownLooe