St Merryn


The parish of St Merryn, (Cornish: Sen Meryn), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Pydar. It is bounded on the north by the sea and Padstow, on the east by Padstow and St Ervan, on the south by St Eval, and on the west by the sea. There is some doubt over the identity of the saint who gave his or her name to this parish. Could be St Marina, an early saint of Asia Minor, or more likely the Celtic saint St Merin. The small village and parish lie immediately west to the parish of Padstow. In 1847 a lighthouse was built on Trevose headland. At Harlyn Bay 130 Iron Age graves were discovered in 1900; they are believed to have been a small dark-haired people who were the original inhabitants of Cornwall.

In World War II, the Royal Navy had an Air Station at St Merryn, which became HMS Vulture. The chief villages are the Churchtown, Trevarre, Trevarrick, Towan, and the Cottages.

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)



The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 1110 entries.



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 SW8874; it is dedicated to St Marina & later St Thomas the Martyr. It is now dedicated to St Merryn.
    The church consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle and north transept. The arcade has seven four-centred arches which, with pillars, are sharply and bodly worked in Cataceuse stone. The font was removed here from the ruins of St Constantine church in this parish. There are north and south porches and a priest's door. The tower is low and stumpy in appearance, consisting of two stages only. It contains six bells.
    About one-and-a-quarter miles to the south-west of St Merryn village are the ruins of St Constantine church. They consist of a portion of the tower with its doorway, and other fragments; no gravestones or other monuments are visible.
    As with so many Cornish churches, there are no real traces of the first church building on the site, which would have been no more than a rough shelter erected sometime after 650 A.D. when the Christian faith was first taught by the missionary priest who came from Padstow. That budding would have been enlarged by later centuries, but not until Norman times was the first cruciform church erected. At the time of the first recorded Vicar, in 1259, there was a chancel, nave and tower. In 1422 the Chancel was lengthened, and the parishioners built the south aisle, south porch and two stages of the bell tower. During the 20th century the roof has been reslated, the windows overhauled, a new floor laid and pews replaced.
    Today the church, a sturdy, storm-resistant building, stands out from its Churchtown as it always has done; around it a few cottages and the local public house, and the old Vicarage. Additions in more recent times have included the parish hall, and a new vicarage, but the surrounding landscape is timeless.
  • Non-Conformist. The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel at the Cottages, and the Bible Christians had one at Trehemban.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1688 - 1929, Burials 1688 - 1892, Marriages 1688 - 1952, Boyd's Marriage Index 1689 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812, BTs 1616 - 1689.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
    • Pre 1813 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1861 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1709 to 1840 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest..
  • Marriages.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1616 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • Phillimore's marriages 1689 to 1812 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Burials. The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book format.

Civil Registration

The parish of St Merryn was originally in the St Columb Registration District. There were sub-districts at Newlyn, Padstow and St Columb Major, but these have now been abolished. It is now in the Bodmin Registration District. 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 St Merryn which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"ST. MERRYN, a parish in the hundred of Pyder, E. division of county Cornwall, 2 miles W. by S. of Padstow, and 7 N. by W. of St. Columb Major. The parish, which is situated near Trevose-Head and Catacluse Cliff, is bounded on the W. and N. by the Bristol Channel. The coast is lined by high rugged cliffs, and the surface is strikingly varied, the prevailing rocks being crystalline and slaty, with veins of lead and antimony. There are quarries of roofing slate, and of a dark-coloured trap rock almost equal to marble. Under the Catacluse Cliff is a small quay, constructed in 1794 for the accommodation of coasting vessels. The appropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £410, and the vicarial for £250. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter, value £257, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Merryn, is an ancient structure, partly rebuilt of Catacluse stone. It contains an antique font of trap stone, curiously carved with figures of the Apostles, brought from the old church of St. Catherine, near Harlyn, of which there are still some ruins. There are places of worship for Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists. The principal seats are Harlyn and Trevose, the latter belonging to the Molesworths. The feasts are kept on the Sundays next before 10th March and 7th July. A fair is held on the Monday preceding 22nd June.

"CONSTANTINE, an island in Constantine Bay in the parish of St. Merryn, off the coast of Cornwall, near Trevovehead, about 4 miles W. of Padstow."



  • 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 St Merryn 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 SW881739 (Lat/Lon: 50.526497, -4.990969), St Merryn which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • St Merryn parish was part of the St Columb Major Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1796 to 1818) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • Population in 1801 - 425 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 458 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 537 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 576 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 593 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 591 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 570 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 566 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 545 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 489 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 476 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 464 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 542 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 508 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 1962 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 1107 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 1138 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 1120 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 1390 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 1608 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 1692 persons


The parish comprises 3946 acres of land, 2 acres of tidal water and 217 acres of foreshore.