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St Mawes, Cornwall

Historical Description

Mawes, St, a small town in St Just-in-Roseland parish, Cornwall, on St Mawes Harbour, an offshoot of Falmouth Bay, opposite Pendennis Castle, 3 miles by water E of Falmouth town station on the G.W.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) It may have derived its name from St Mawe or St Machutns, an early hermit of Wales, but much more probably by corruption from St Mary. It belonged to Plympton Abbey, which was dedicated to St Mary, and it went at the dissolution to the Vyvyans, and passed through various hands to the Duke of Buckingham. A castle was erected at it in 1542 by Henry VIII. to protect Falmouth Harbour against the French, and this stands on a solid rock at an elevation of 117 feet above high watermark; was bombarded and captured in 1646 by Sir Thomas Fairfax, and remounted in 1855. The town stands along the shore at the foot of a precipitous hill, consists chiefly of one irregularly-built street, was governed by a portreeve chosen annually at a court leet, sent two members to Parliament from 1562 till disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832, and has a coastguard station, a chapel of ease, and Congregational, Wesleyan, and Bible Christian chapels. A small weekly market is held on Friday. A pilchard fishery was formerly important, but has completely declined. A pier was erected in 1854, was destroyed by a storm in 1872, and rebuilt in the following year. A sea-wall has been built along the centre front of the town. There is a regular line of steamers from Falmouth. The manor belongs to the Pier and Harbour Company.

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 unionTruro 

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


Church of England

St. Mawes or Maudit

The ancient chapel of St. Mawes or St. Maudit was existing as early as 1427, but the present edifice, used as a chapel of ease to St. Just, was erected on the same site in 1812 by Richard, 2nd Marquess and afterwards Duke of Buckingham K.G. though not used till 1837: the chapel was again rebuilt in 1883-4 of local elvan stone in the Early English style, at a cost of £1,500, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and a western turret containing one bell: all the windows are stained, the west window being a memorial to the late Capt. William Vincent R.N. d. 1882, and to his wife, d. 1869; the east window is a memorial to Miss Cullen, who died in 1881 whilst on a visit here: the old font is still in use: the handsome brass lectern was presented by Wm. Notting esq. of London: at the Reformation, the old chapel contained a picture of St. Mawe or Machutus, and a stone chair said to have belonged to him: there are 150 sittings.

St. Mawes churchNave of St. Mawes church

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for St Mawes from the following:


Online maps of St Mawes 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:


St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle
St Mawes Castle

Visitations Heraldic

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

RegionSouth West
Postal districtTR2
Post TownTruro