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.

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 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
Email: jebucki[at]btinternet[dot]com.



  • A Municipal Cemetery of 2 acres was formed in Padstow in 1881.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions on-line for the Parish Churchyard.


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. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW9175 and is dedicated to St Petroc who lived here from AD 518 and afterwards settled at Bodmin where he died in AD 564. The church consists of chancel, nave, and north and south aisle. The north arcade consists of seven arches, five of which are pointed and the material Caen stone; the other two, which are separated from the former by a stone pier, are four-centred and the material granite. The south arcade is similarly arranged, but the material throughout is Caen stone. There is south porch, a north door, and a priest's door. The tower, which inclines to the south, is buttressed and embattled; it contained six bells. Adjoining the tower on the western side is the Prideaux-Brune family mausoleum. The church is buttressed throughout.
    According to Bishop Bronscombe's registers, Edmund Stafford, Bishop of Exeter, licensed services in this church on 28th September 1415. There were a number of chapels in this parish from the medieval period.

    There is a separate chapel in this parish at Trevone, which was dedicated to St Saviour, and which was opened in 1928; details about the plans of the modern church are available on-line.
  • Roman Catholic. Saviour is a particularly appropriate dedication for it is the the dedication of the Papal Cathedral, the Lateran, the namesake of the Canons Regular who came from Bodmin and served Padstow for many years. St. Saviour is the title too of a long defunct pre-reformation chapel in the town. The patronage of St. Petroc is also quite apt. The saint founded a monastic church in Padstow late in the sixth century. King Alfred the Great (849-901 A.D.) inaugurated and historical record of contemporary events "The Anglo Saxon Chronicle". It Was the formal document which mentioned the name Petroc's Stowe meaning the church or monastery of St. Petroc. For about fifty years Padstow Catholics worshipped in a humble wooden edifice. Then in 1962 John Prideaux Brune kindly donated a plot of land for a Church near the site of the ancient Celtic Monastery of St. Petroc. Bishop Cyril Restieaux gave his blessiing to this new church on 1st June 1975.
  • Non-Conformist. The Wesleyans built a chapel here in 1827 and the Bible Christians built a chapel in 1840.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1599 - 1933, Burials 1599 - 1934, Marriages 1599 - 1951, Boyd's Marriage Index 1599 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812, Non-Conformist records 1820 - 1837.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
    • Pre 1813 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1599 to 1830 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Padstow Wesleyan-Methodist Chapel baptisms 1853 to 1880, and WM and Particular Baptist baptisms 1820 to 1837, are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1670 to 1840 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest.
  • Marriages.
    • Phillimore's marriage 1599 to 1812, 1599 to 1640, and 1653 to 1911 (parish transcripts), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1599 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
  • Burials.
    • Burials 1599 to 1936 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book or CD formats.
  • Other Non-Conformist Records. OPC Coverage of Non-Conformist records of this parish is available.

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.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Padstow which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"PADSTOW, a parish, seaport, post, and market town in the hundred of Pyder, county Cornwall, 6 miles W. of Wadebridge, 8 N. of St. Columb, and 14 W. by N. of Bodmin. It is situated near the coast of the Bristol Channel, at the mouth of the river Camel, the entrance to the harbour being about 2 miles distant to the E. It is a coastguard station and petty sessions town, and was formerly called Lodenek, Aldestowe, and Petrocstowe, this last being named after St. Petroc, who founded a monastery here in the early part of the 6th century. It was visited by King Athelstane in his progress through Cornwall in 932, and was burnt by the Danes in 981, when the priory was removed to Bodmin. In the reign of Edward III. the town provided vessels for the siege of Calais. The town was incorporated in the 25th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but about the middle of the 17th century, the municipal rights having lapsed by desuetude, the borough was placed under the county magistrates. The streets are roughly paved, and the town is plentifully supplied with water. The population of the parish in 1861 was 2,489. There are many well-built houses and shops, roofed with blue slate, also a library institution. Ship-building is carried on to a considerable extent. A large coasting trade is done in coals, malt, and corn; also a large and increasing trade with America and the Baltic. Previously to the 16th century, the harbour was considered one of the finest on the western coast of England; but from the accumulation of sand it became almost choked up. At the commencement of the present century considerable improvements were made, and the piers were reconstructed in 1854, so as to take a greater depth of water within them. The land is principally arable, including the cultivated vale to the E. of the town; but in the immediate vicinity, nature assumes a severity and boldness of character seldom met with in the S. of England.



  • 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

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:


Land & Property

  • The parish and town tithe maps, and accompanying survey books of c1840, provide a fascinating snap-shot of land use and ownership in the 19th century. In order to preserve the documents and improve access to them, the Cornwall Record Office are digitising these maps and survey books. The CD ROM tithe package include a map and survey books, together with a reader, for this parish; it is now available from the Cornwall Record Office. Details are on their website.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW902756 (Lat/Lon: 50.54235, -4.961706), Padstow which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

  • Since the time of Edward I (1272) central government has exerted a measure of control over shipping for tax purposes. The records that resulted from this include Receipts of duty paid on import and export, information on the examination of cargoes in the coasting trade, and the issuing of bonds for unloading in ports of the realm. These documents normally mention the Merchants involved and the name of the Master of the ship. Typically the information they will contain will be Name of ship, and its Master, Description of goods, Duty paid (if import or export) and Places to/from which shipment is made. Listing of Clovelly Entries in Padstow Coastal Port Books (1602-1719) are available.


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


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Padstow parish (both Urban and Rural) was part of the St Columb Major Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1728 to 1788, 1825 to 1837), Settlement Papers (1719 to 1852) and Bastardy Bonds (1708 to 1840) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • 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


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



The parish comprises 3343 acres of land