This parish of Looe, (Cornish: Logh), whose name means 'pool or inlet', is on the south coast of Cornwall. It was created from parts of Talland and St Martin parishes in 1845, before which each were a chapelry of their parent parish. There are actually two towns: East and West Looe, divided by the estuary of the Looe River and connected by a bridge of nine arches built in 1853. The ancient towns of East and West Looe are situated in the Deanery and Hundred of West; they are bounded on the north by Duloe and Morval, on the east by St Martins, on the south by the sea, and on the west by Talland. East Looe, the larger of the two towns is situated at the foot of a hill 200 feet in height; it anciently bore the name of 'Loo' or Looe. West Looe originally bearing the name of Port Bigham (or Port Pigham, Portbyam, Portbyham or Portuan).
In the reign of Edward I, in the 13th century, Henry de Bodrigan, then Lord of the Manor, certified his claim to a market and fair at Looe, and a view of frank pledge, a ducking stool, a pillory and assize of bread and beer, which had been granted by Henry II. The first known mention of West Looe is in a document dated 1327.
Originally the towns were 'rotten boroughs' in political terms; both East and West Looe each returned two members of parliament until the Reform Act of 1845. In 1878 the two towns merged under one governing body; Looe Urban District Council was formed in 1898 to govern the whole of Looe.

In the 19th century the Looe Union Canal was used to export agricultural produce and granite from Looe but is now disused. When Talland civil parish was abolished in 1934, the area was distributed between Looe and Lansallos parishes.

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)


Archives & Libraries

  • The Looe Maritime Archive has an on-line achive containing photos, stories, sounds and video, celebrating life in Looe. Faces, places, boats and races all feature in the archive.
  • The town of Looe has its own Museum: the Old Guildhall Museum, which is in Fore Street, East Looe. This 15th century-listed ancient museum has a fascinating display of Looe's history, and contains the old magistrates bench and original cells.


  • Sclerder Abbey (Roman Catholic) - 163 entries.
  • Other Monumental Inscriptions for the parish have not yet been recorded.


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

Looe ecclesiastical parish was first constituted in 1845, when the chapelries of East Looe in St Martin's parish and west Looe in Talland parish were merged. The Anglican churches of each have remained.

  • Anglican. There are two Anglican churches in Looe parish:
    • East Looe church was dedicated to St St Mary; it is located in OS grid square SX2553. In the year 1259, Walter Bronscombe, Bishop of Exeter, dedicated the church of St Mary de Loo. By 1805, the old chapel at East Looe was in a very decayed state, so the Corporation decided to rebuild it. The foundation stone was laid on 7th April 1805 by Vice-Admiral Sir E Buller, Bart.
      However this, itself, was replaced in 1882 by a new building. The replacement church was erected in 1882-3 on the site of the old chapel, which had been rebuilt in 1805, and was dedicated to St Anne. It consists of two aisles, separated by an arcade of five circular arches. The old tower was not taken down; it contains one bell and a clock.
    • The original West Looe church was dedicated to St St Nicholas; is is located in OS grid square SX2553. John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter, in a deed dated July 11th 1336, after stating that the ancestors of Sir John Dawney, Knight, had erected a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas at Portbigan (now West Looe) in the parish of Talland, confirms the endowment, which had been enlarged, and authorised the regular celebration of divine serve therein. This was confirmed by Bishop Lacy on 3rd October 1433. For a long time, this chapel was used as a Guildhall and afterwards as a schoolroom. Considerable remains of this chapel remained in 1815. Around 1852, the building after being partially repaired, was restored to its original use. The whole building was refitted and rebuilt in 1862. The chapel comprises a chancel, nave, and north aisle. At the west end of the nave is a plain tower arch. The arcade, which is constructed of oak, apparently ship timber, is supported on two massive pillars. There is a bell turret, which appears very ancient, containing a bell and a clock.
  • Roman Catholic. The parish of Looe is served from Sclerder with Looe covers a large area from Polruan to Seaton, and from the English Channel to its border with Liskeard parish, but since Liskeard parish is served from Sclerder, the area from the English Channel to the A30 and Bodmin Moor is served by one priest. Sclerder has a vital connection with Trelawne and the Trelawneys; the church at Sclerder would probably never have been built if it were not for the conversion to the Catholic faith of Sir Harry Trelawney, great-grandson of Jonathan Trelawney, the famous Anglican Bishop of Exeter. In his will, Sir Harry left the whole of the Trelawne Estate to his Catholic daughters, Anne Letitia and Mary, disinheriting his son and heir William, and so it was that they were able to provide for the building of a new Church at Sclerder. The Church was completed in 1843, and was blessed by Fr Marc Oléron, a French priest who had come to Trelwane in 1835, and had been celebrating Mass in the chapel there as well as making converts in the district. He celebrated the first Mass at Sclerder on 6th October 1843. For most of its history, Sclerder Abbey has had a religious community associated with it, among which have been Franciscan Recollects, Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Poor Clares and Carmelites. At the beginning of the 21st century, Sclerder is a Carmelite Monastery, with a community of contemplative nuns.
  • Non-Conformist. The Wesleyan Methodists and United Methodist Free Church had chapels at East Looe; the chapel of the latter was opened on 7th June 1860.

Church Records

Many of the earlier records for Looe will be found under Talland parish and St Martin by Looe parish.

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1709 - 1894, Marriages 1850 - 1980, East Looe Non-Conformist records 1815 - 1836, West Looe Non-Conformist records 1788 - 1836.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms for East and West Looe, 1846 to 1896, are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Looe Wesleyan-Methodist Chapel baptisms 1871 to 1893, and Looe Bible Christian baptisms 1848 to 1900 and 885 to 1911, are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1709 to 1807 for East Looe which can be purchased on Parish Chest
  • Banns. Banns 1854 to 1911 for East and West Looe are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • The OPC has transcribed the following, and is happy to do look-ups - see under Genealogy:
      • East Looe Chapelry Marriages 1850-1931.
      • West Looe Banns (St Nicholas's) 1854-1931.
    • East Looe Chapelry marriages 1850 to 1911 arealso available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Burials. Burials in East Looe Cemetery 1927 to 1936 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Other Non-Conformist Records. OPC Coverage of Non-Conformist records of this parish is available.

Civil Registration

The Anglican parish of Looe (both East and West) has always been in the Liskeard Registration District. There were sub-districts at Callington, Lerrin, Liskeard and Looe. Parishes within the district are: Boconnoc, Broadoak, Callington, Calstock (1837-60), Duloe, East Looe, Lanreath, Lansallos, Lanteglos, Linkinhorne, Liskeard, Liskeard Borough, Menheniot, Morval, Pelynt, St. Cleer, St. Dominick, St. Ive, St. Keyne, St. Martin's, St. Neot, St. Pinnock, St. Veep, Southill, Talland and West Looe.
The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Graylands, Dean Street, Liskeard, PL14 4AH. Tel: 01579 343442.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Looe 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 SX253527 (Lat/Lon: 50.348069, -4.456865), Looe which are provided by:



Apprenticeship Indentures for East Looe (1655 - 1820) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

Both East and West Looe were part of the Liskeard Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief. Overseers' Accounts for East Looe (1692 to 1819), Settlement Papers (1696 to 1835) are available. Overseers' Accounts for West Looe (1697, 1715) and Bastardy Bonds (1656 to 1657) are aalso available. These can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.



Looe was created from parts of Talland and St Martin parishes in 1709. Talland civil parish was abolished in 1934; the area was distributed between Looe and Lansallos parishes and this partially accounts for population variations from 1951.

  • Population in 1801 - 843 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 1041 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 1309 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 1458 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 1542 persons (including 926 in East Looe and 616 in West Looe)
  • Population in 1851 - 1716 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 1924 persons (including 1124 in East Looe and 744 in West Looe and
    16 on shipping in East Looe)
  • Population in 1871 - 2194 persons (including 1349 in East Looe and 798 in West Looe)
  • Population in 1881 - 2221 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 2430 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 2548 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2718 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2868 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 3006 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 3833 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 4090 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 4425 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 5290 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 5265 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 5280 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 5000 persons


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



The parish comprises 222 acres of land.