St Levan


The parish of St Levan, (Cornish: Sen Selevan), was originally part of the parish of St Buryan and has been closely connected with it. It is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith. It is bounded on the north by St Buryan, on the east and south by sea, and on the west by Sennen. St Leven takes its name from the patron saint of the church, St Selevan. The parish is ten miles west of Penzance. Porthcurno, on the south coast, was the site of the first cable laid across the Atlantic. Not far from Porthcurno is the Minack Open Air Theatre, built into the cliffs by Rowena Cade in 1932, which has the sea as a backdrop to the stage.

The chief village is Teryn (or Treen). St Levan is also a pleasant village, which in the past relied heavily on shell fishing as source of income. At Porthgwarra (the higher port), a little fishing cove, tunnels are cut through the rock to give access to the sand and ore-weed beach. Penberth Cove is also a fishing place.

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)





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 SW3822 and is dedicated to St Selevan. The church consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle and north transept. The arcade has six low pointed arches, supported on octagonal monolith pillars of granite. The roofs hare well arved and the bosses appear to have been painted and gilded. There is a south porch, and a blocked doorway in the angle between the nave and transept. The tower is of two stages, and is finished with battlements and pinnacles; it contained two bells.
    This parish, together with St Buryan and Sennen, constitued the deanery of St Buryan, but this was broken up in 1864.
  • Non-Conformist. The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel at Treen and another at Sawah, which was replaced around 1870 by one built at Poggiga Cross. Mark Hattam has posted photographs of the present chapel.

Church Records

Generally speaking the St.Levan Registers do not start until 1700. The very, very early records for St Levan were covered by St Buryan. However some early records have been lost due to lack of care; nevertheless, a few early entries have been salvaged.

  • LDS Church Records.
    • The LDS Church batch numbers for St Levan are: P021041, M021041. These are searchable by surname.
    • The IGI coverage of this parish is 1694 - 1875.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1700 - 1870, Burials 1700 - 1973, Marriages 1700 - 1981, Boyd's Marriage Index 1694 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
    • Pre 1813 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1694 to 1901 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • St Levan Wesleyan Chapel baptisms 1875 to 1901 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Pat Banks has transcribed baptisms at St Levan 1694 to 1900, which are on-line courtesy of West Penwith Resources.
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1730 to 1856 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest..
  • Banns. Banns 1825 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
  • Burials.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • Burials 1700 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Burials at St Levan are available on-line, courtesy of the OPC, as follows:

Civil Registration

The parish of St Levan has been in the Penzance Registration District continuously from 1st July 1837. There were originally sub-districts at Marazion, Penzance, St Buryan, St Just, St Ives and Uny-Lelant but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Gulval, Ludgvan, Madron, Marazion, Morvah, Penzance, Perranuthnoe, St. Buryan, St. Erth, St. Hilary, St. Ives, St. Just in Penwith, St. Levan, St. Michael's Mount, St. Paul, Sancreed, Sennen, Towednack, Uny-Lelant, Wolfe Rock Lighthouse, and Zennor. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Alphington House, Alverton Place, Penzance, TR18 4JJ. Tel: 01736 330093.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of St Levan which are provided by:





The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"ST. LEVAN, a parish in the hundred of Penwith, county Cornwall, 8 miles S.W. of Penzance, and 2 from St. Buryan. It is situated on the bold granite-bound coast near the Land's End, and contains the celebrated Logan, or Rocking-stone, an immense block of granite poised on the summit of one of the three rocks called Castle Treryn, or Trereen Dynas Camp, overhanging the sea. The weight of this stone is supposed to be 90 tons; yet so nicely balanced as to be easily rocked to and fro by a single individual. In 1820, though considered almost the greatest curiosity in Cornwall, Lieutenant Goldsmith, with a party of sailors, in a frolic dislodged the mass; but, being reprimanded by the government, he took steps shortly afterwards to replace it, with the help of capstans, &c., when it was secured by chains. The village, which is small, is situated in a secluded dell opening to the sea. It is said to derive its name from a British martyr, whose well and ancient oratory still remain. The surface is boldly undulating, and in parts rocky, especially near the coast. At Cape Tolpeder-Penwith, which is separated from the mainland by an ancient stone wall, is the Funnel Rock, through which the sea dashes with tremendous noise. The substratum is chiefly granite and slate, and the soil killas. There is a copper mine 260 yards deep, employing several hundred miners. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter, value with St. Burian and Sennen, £1,004. The church of St. Levan, situated near Porth Kernow Bay, is a stone edifice, with a square embattled tower containing three bells. In the interior are several mural monuments, an ancient font, a register chest, and the tomb of Miss Dennis, an excellent Greek scholar, and author of "Sophia de St. Clare." There is a register of ancient date. The Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists have each a place of worship. There is a National school for this and the adjoining parish of Sennen.



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 SW380233 (Lat/Lon: 50.051796, -5.661612), St Levan which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • St Levan parish was part of the Penzance Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1729 to 1769) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • Population in 1801 - 400 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 434 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 490 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 515 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 531 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 502 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 447 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 536 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 584 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 629 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 726 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 731 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 627 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 579 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 641 persons*
  • Population in 1961 - 615 persons*
  • Population in 1971 - 600 persons*
  • Population in 1981 - 485 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 525 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 487 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 459 persons

(* includes Wolfe Rock Lighthouse).



The Penwith Local History Group aims:

  • To encourage and sustain public interest in the history of Penwith to provide mutual support and encouragement to members in their individual research projects, whether related to Penwith or of wider historical interest.
  • To work as a group on specific research projects, with the aim of publication to an academic standard.
  • To encourage the strong link with the Morrab Library, supporting the Library in its aims and activities.


The parish comprises 2402 acres of land, 3 acres of water and 31 acres of foreshore.