Hessenford (Cornish: Rys an Gwraghes) is in the Hundred and Deanery of East. Originally called Hestonford, believed to mean the 'witches' ford/place in the woods'. There was a mill at Hestonford here in 1286; there were still mills here up until the mid-20th century. It is a charming village in picturesque scenery situated about five miles west of St Germans; it contains a pretty cluster of late 17th/18th century lying on the main road from Looe to Plymouth. It is located at the foot of a well-wooded valley crossing the Seaton river.
The parish was created from part of St Germans parish in 1834. Hamlets within the parish are: Seaton, Downderry, Polbathic, Deviock and Narkurs.

Most parish and church description(s) on these pages are from Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall by J Polsue (Truro, 1867 - 1873)



Monumental inscriptions for this parish have not yet been recorded. However Burials are recorded by the Cornwall Family History Society under 'St Germans', and are on-line.



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.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:


Church History

  • Anglican. There are two Anglican Churches in this former ecclesiastical parish:
    • Parish Church. The parish church is situated in OS Grid Square SX3057, and is dedicated to St Ann. It was originally built in 1832 as a district chapel-of-ease in St Germans parish to serve the growing population in Hessenford. It was consecrated on 26th September 1833. In 1871 it was rebuilt as a church, in the early English style and has a fine barrel-vaulted roof. The church now comprises chancel, nave, aisles, with a small tower and spire. It did not contain a bell, so the church became renowned for its shotgun weddings because a volley was fired in lieu of a peal. The stained west window is a memorial to a Mrs Abraham. The registers date from 1832.
    • Downderry. There is also a separate mission church of St. Nicholas at Downderry, built in 1883-4, at a cost of £1,000, by the Rev. J.T. Fisher B.A. vicar of Hessenford, 1851-85. It is an edifice of stone in the Early English style, and has a belfry containing one bell, erected as a memorial to the Rev. J.H.S. Staveley, a former curate; an oak pulpit was provided in 1893, and in 1905 a stained window was given by the widow of Col. Phillips in memory of two sons. There are 100 sittings. In 2001, a new wing with kitchen and toilets was added.
    Hessenford is now part of the united parishes of St Germans, Hessenford, Downderry and Tideford.
  • Non-Conformist. There was a Methodist chapel here which is now closed.

Church Records

  • The parish was stated as St Germans until 1873. The Cornwall Record Office holdings are: Marriages 1834 - 1980, Baptisms 1834 - 1916, Burials 1834 - 1980.
  • Baptisms. Baptisms 1834 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Banns. Banns 1902 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages. Marriages 1852 to 1867 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Burials. Burials 1834 to 1936 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).

Civil Registration

The parish of Hessenford is in the St Germans Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837; there were sub-districts at Antony, St Germans and Saltash but they have now been abolished. Parishes within the district were: Antony, Botusfleming, Landrake, Landulph, Maker, Millbrook, Pillaton, Quethiock, Rame, St. Erney, St. Germans, St. John's, St. Mellion, St. Stephen's, Saltash, Sheviock, Torpoint.

The Superintendant Registrar of St Germans can be contacted at: Ploughastel Drive, St Germans, Cornwall. Tel: 01752 842624.


Description & Travel

    You can see pictures of Hessenford which are provided by:





    OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.


    Historical Geography

    You can see the administrative areas in which Hessenford has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



    You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX309574 (Lat/Lon: 50.391776, -4.380672), Hessenford which are provided by:


    Poor Houses, Poor Law

    Hessenford parish became part of the St Germans Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.



    The parish was created from St Germans parish in 1834; population figures before this date are included with St Germans.

    • Population in 1841 - counted as part
      of St Germans parish
    • Population in 1851 - counted as part
      of St Germans parish
    • Population in 1861 - 963 persons
    • Population in 1871 - 968 persons
    • Population in 1881 - 896 persons
    • Population in 1891 - 948 persons
    • Population in 1901 - 807 persons
    • Population in 1911 - 782 persons
    • Population in 1921 - 838 persons
    • Population in 1931 - 824 persons
    • Population in 1951 - 896 persons
    • Population in 1961 - 0 persons
    • Population in 1971 - 0 persons
    • Population in 1981 - 125 persons
    • Population in 1991 - 135 persons
    • Population in 2001 - 170 persons
    • Population in 2011 - 000 persons


    The parish comprises 6000 acres of land.