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.



    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.