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St Austell, Cornwall

Historical Description

Austell, St, a market-town and a parish in Cornwall. The town stands on the G.W.R. 286 miles from London, 1½ mile NW of a bay of its own name, and 39½ miles W by S of Plymouth. Its site is the side of a hill, which descends to a naiTow vale watered by a rivulet. The original town, or rather village, stood a short distance to the W, and is still represented by a few cottages. The present town dates from about the time of Henry VIII.; was taken by Charles I., in 1644, from the Parliamentarian forces; and has risen to importance in connection with the china-clay traffic. It has narrow streets, and a somewhat gloomy aspect, yet shows interesting features, and is skirted with pleasant residences. Several of the principal business establishments and public buildings are supplied with the electric light. The Constitutional Club, formed in 1889, has about 400 members. There are assembly rooms, reading rooms, and also a large and spacious Liberal Club, formed in 1887, with about 400 members. The market-house and town-hall is a large granite building. The Devon and Cornwall bank is a tasteful edifice of granite and marble. The parish church is a spacious ancient structure, of nave, chancel, and aisles, with a remarkably fine tower and many curious sculptures; the chancel Early English, the nave and the tower Perpendicular. The church has been thoroughly restored, and is kept in excellent condition. The east end, south aisle, and tower are filled with fine stained glass. The reredos and pulpit are of alabaster. A new vestry was added in 1889. A communion cup used in the church is very ancient. The town has two post offices, four banking offices, seven dissenting chapels, a workhouse, and it is a seat of petty sessions. A weekly market is held on Friday; and fairs on the Thursday before Easter, Whit-Thursday, the Friday after 23 July, 19 October, and 30 November. The fishery for pilchards, in St Austell Bay, is extensive. The chief industry is in porcelain clay and china-stone, which was formerly shipped exclusively at Pentewan and Charlestown. A narrow gauge (3 feet) railway runs to Pentewan from St Austell. In 1893 much of the shipping trade was transferred to Par and Fowey, as a new branch railway was made from Bugh to Gunheath, near Hensbarrow, passing through the heart of the China clay district. The name St Austell is of uncertain origin, but most probably is a corruption of St Auxilius.

The parish comprises 12,213 acres; population of the civil parish, 11,377; of the ecclesiastical, 5702. St Austell Bay is 4 miles wide and 5 long, and forks in the N into the bay of St Blazey. Hensbarrow Hill, about 2¼ miles N of the town, is one of the loftiest heights in Cornwall. The higher quarter of the parish, together with that of adjacent tracts, is bleak and desolate; the Pentewan and Treverbyn valleys are wooded and beautiful. The Carelage mine, one of the oldest in the world, and said to have been worked by the Phoenicians, is very striking. The quarries in Pentewan vale supply a famous building-stone, which has been used in the construction of many churches and mansions. An ancient holy well, with remains of a small chapel or baptistery, occurs in a pretty spot, beside a stream, at Menacuddle Hill. Penrice, 1¼ mile S of the town, on the road to Pentewan, is the seat of the Sawie family. Polruddon and Treverbyn were ancient residences. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro; gross value, £538. Patron, the Crown. The vicarages of Charlestown and Treverbyn are separate charges.

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 parishSt. Austell The Holy Trinity 
Poor Law unionSt. Austell 

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

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

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


Online maps of St Austell 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 districtPL25
Post TownSt. Austell