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Padstow, Cornwall

Historical Description

Padstow, a town and a parish in Cornwall. The town stands on the W side of the Camel's estuary, 1½ mile from the sea, 16 miles NW by W of Bodmin, and 8 from Wadebridge station on the G.W.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office, and dates from very ancient times. It was known to the Cornish as Lodenek; took the name of Petrocstowe from the Saxons, in honour of St Petroc, a Culdee missionary from Ireland who made it his head-quarters; took afterwards the name of Athelstowe or Aldestowe, in honour of Athelstane, after his conquest of Cornwall; was re-named Padstow, by corruption of Petrocstowe, in the latter part of the 16th century; had a religious house, founded by St Petroc in 560 and burnt by the Danes in 981; sent two warships to the siege of Calais in 1344; declined from its ancient importance in consequence of the partial choking of its harbour in the time of Henry VIII.; underwent much revival about the middle of the 18th century; is a head port, with a harbour affording the only place of shelter on the N coast of Cornwall; and has two chief inns, a custom-house, a coastguard station, a church, dissenting chapels, &c. The church is ancient. It was built by Prior Vivian, and contains a slatey catacleuze font, decorated with figures of the twelve apostles, and a monument of 1627 to Sir Nicholas Prideaux. A weekly market is held on Saturday; a fair for cattle and horses on the first Tuesday in May, and a considerable commerce is carried on with Bristol, Wales, and Ireland. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 100 (8400 tons). The entries and clearances each average 500 (28,000 tons) per annum. The harbour has a difficult and somewhat dangerous access, particularly during NW gales, and is provided with convenient quays. A capstan is on Stepper Point, at the mouth of the estuary, 27 feet above sea-level; and on the arrival of a vessel in the offing during a prevalence of adverse winds, a hawser is conveyed from the capstan by a pilot boat to the vessel to aid its passage over the bar. A lifeboat establishment also is at the mouth of the estuary. Acreage of parish, 3342; population, 1877. Under the Local Government Act of 1894, Padstow has been divided into two parishes, namely, Padstow Urban (174 acres; population, 1546), and Padstow Rural (3034 acres; population, 331), each governed by a district council. The urban district council consists of nine members. The manor belonged to Bodmin Priory, passed to the Prideaux family, and now belongs to that of the Prideaux-Brunes, whose seat, Prideaux Place, occupies the site of the monastery of St Petroc; stands on high ground above the town, encircled by trees; was the birthplace of Dean Prideaux, author of the " Connection of the Old and New Testaments;" and contains numerous interesting portraits and pictures. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro; net value, £150 with residence. An ancient chapel stood near the shore.

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 
Ecclesiastical parishPadstow St. Petrock 
Poor Law unionSt. Columb Major 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Padstow from the following:


Online maps of Padstow 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 districtPL28
Post TownPadstow