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St German, Cornwall

Historical Description

Germans, St, a small town, a parish, and a district in, Cornwall. The town stands in a romantic dell on the bonders of a creek formed by the river Lynher, 10 miles, W by N of Plymouth. It has a station on the G.W.R. (Cornwall) 256 miles from London, and has a post office, with money order and telegraph departments. St Germans was known at Domesday as Abbytone, and it takes its present name from St Germaine or Germanus, bishop of Auxerre in France, who vigorously opposed the Pelagian heresy, and made a visit to Cornwall in 429. The bishopric of Cornwall has its seat here, is said by Whitaker to have been founded so-early as 614, but is not traceable in history till 910, and it continued to have its seat here till its union with the bishopric of Crediton about 1049. A college of secular priests was founded here by King Athelstan; was changed into an Augustinian priory by Bishop Leofric, and was given at the dissolution to the Champernownes. The town sent two members to Parliament from 1562 till the Reform Act of 1832, and was then disfranchised. It is now little more than a village, and consists chiefly of one street, built on. The slope of the dell. It has a town-hall, masonic lodge, library, a good inn, a parish church, a Wesleyan chapel, and a free school, and it gives the title of Earl to the family of Eliot. The church in its oldest part is of about 1150, lost its-chancel in 1592, measures 104 feet by 67¼, has a very fine-Norman W front with two towers, one of which is now-octagonal, possesses portions of very beautiful decorated, English, presents exteriorly a most venerable appearancs, and contains a miserere seat in carved oak, a magnificent monument to Edward Eliot by Rysbrach, and other monuments to the Eliots and the Glanvilles. The church was, repaired in 1889, and the roof restored in 1893. The ancient, burying-ground connected with the church was converted into. a lawn, and a new one of 1768 is situated a short distance to the W. Markets were formerly held, but have long been disused, and a fair is now held on 28 May. The chief employment of the inhabitants is agriculture.

The parish, upwards of 20 miles in circuit, contains the hamlets of Cross, Trerule Foot, Minard, Deviock, Seaton, and Downderry,, and the old mansions of Bake, Catchfrench, and Coldrenick. Acreage, 10,147; population of civil parish, 2384,, of ecclesiastical, 743. The two most important hamlets, now ecclesiastical districts, are Tideford and Hessenford. The manor belonged anciently to the bishop and the monks, and belongs now to Earl St Germans. Cuddenbeck, supposed to have been the bishop's seat, is now a ruined farmhouse. Port Eliot, the seat of Earl St Germans, includes parts of the ancient priory, and occupies the site of other parts,; possesses a fine collection of paintings, and stands amid beautiful grounds. Charming scenery occurs along the shores and flanks of the Lynher's creeks. Limestone and slate are found. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro; value £290 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Windsor. The perpetual curacies of Hessenford and Tideford are separate benefices.

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. Germans St. Germanus 
Poor Law unionSt. Germans 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

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

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.