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The parish and town of Padstow, (Cornish: Lannwedhenek), is situated in the Deanery of Pydar. It is bounded on the north by the sea and the entrance to Padstow harbour, on the east by the estuary of the River Camel and Tregonce Creek which separates it from St Minver and St Issey, on the south by Little Petherick (alias St Petroc Minor), and on the west by St Merryn. The original meaning of the name 'Padstow' was the holy place of St Petrock, an important Cornish saint. In the 14th century this became confused with St Patrick, hence the present name, 'stowe' being the English for holy place.

The town of Padstow grew on a sheltered inlet on the west side of the Camel estuary, being the only reasonable harbour on the north Cornish coast between St.Ives and Bideford. When St Petrock arrived in the 6th century there was already a settlement here. It has always been an important trading port as well as prospering from fishing and boatbuilding. It was from here that many Cornishmen and their families embarked for a new life in the North America after the collapse of the Cornish Tin mining industry.

Padstow is an important fishing port and harbour of refuge on the North Coast of Cornwall, a haven for many visiting yachtsmen. A well-known fish restaurant owned by Rick Stein is now to be found in Padstow and he has appeared many times on television. The railway line to Padstow was closed in 1967 and is now the 'Camel Trail', where it is possible to walk or cycle from Padstow to Bodmin, via Wadebridge. On May Day every year there is a festivity called the Obby-Oss where the junior inhabitants assemble in the street and process through the town following a painted effigy of a horse, and singing in praise of St George. The origin of this event is propably pagan.

Archives & Libraries

The Padstow Museum is a small but interesting museum situated just 50 metres from the harbour side. Initially set up in 1971 by an enthusiastic group of local residents headed by retired boat builder Bill Lindsey, it holds an interesting collection of artefacts giving an insight of Padstow over the past two centuries.

The address is:

Padstow Museum
The Institute
Market Strand

Phone: 01841532470

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Census information for this parish (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members. The Cornwall Family History Society have also published on-line census detail by surname on the FamilyHistoryonLine site. Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:

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Church History

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Church Records

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Civil Registration

The parish of Padstow was originally in the St Columb Registration District. It is now in the Bodmin Registration District. There were sub-districts at Newlyn, Padstow and St Columb Major, but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the old St Columb district were: Colan, Crantock, Cubert, Little Petherick, Mawgan-in-Pydar, Newlyn, Newquay, Padstow, St. Breock, St. Columb Major, St. Columb Minor, St. Enoder, St. Ervan, St. Eval, St. Issey, St. Merryn, St. Wenn.

The Superintendant Registrar of Bodmin can be contacted at: Lyndhurst, 66 Nicholas Street, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL31 2AG. Tel: 01208 73677.

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Description & Travel

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Historical Geography

The Domesday Settlements of Cornwall, a study undertaken by the Cornwall Branch of the Historical Association, has identified and located settlements listed in the Exeter and Exchequer Domesday Survey of AD 1086. The following places have been identified in Padstow ecclesiastical parish:

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Land & Property

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Merchant Marine

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Apprenticeship Indentures for Padstow (1680 - 1838) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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  • Population in 1801 - 1332 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 1498 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 1700 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 1822 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 2145 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 2185 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 2341 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 2345 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 2109 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 1546 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 1566 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2480 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2180 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 2465 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 2852 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 2675 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 2780 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 2625 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 2845 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 3162 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 2993 persons

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The Padstow Old Cornwall Society News Page is on-line.

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The parish comprises 3343 acres of land

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