Towednack, (Cornish: Tewunnek), is situated in the Western Division of the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith; it is bounded on the north by St Ives; on the east by Lelant; on the south by Ludgvan and Gulval; and on the west by Zennor and the sea.
According to O.J.Padel, this name is derived from To-Winnow, a pet-form name of St Winwaloe, to whom the local church is dedicated. Towednack is west and south of St. Ives; the name Towednack is derived from middle Cornish to, "thy" Wednack. The remoteness of the 13th century church, situated south-west of St Ives, suggests it was built on the site of a Celtic hermitage rather than to serve a village. Evidence of Bronze Age habitation has been discovered in the area. In the Domesday Book of 1086, this district was taxed under the jurisdiction of Amall, now Amall Veor or Trenwith.
The chief villages of the parish are the Churchtown, Nancledra, and Trevidge Veor (or Trevessa).
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:
- The 1841 Census of Towednack (HO107/1917), Enumeration Districts 1a, 1b and 1c, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- The New Zealand Society of Genealogists have compiled separate surname indexes of the 1851 Census for each Cornish registration district; Towednack is listed in Volume 25. The booklets are available in Cornwall at the Cornwall Centre, (formerly known as the Cornish Studies Library), and is also available in the Cornwall FHS Library.
- 1861. The 1861 Census of Towednack (RG9/1590), Enumeration Districts 11 to 13, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1871. The 1871 Census of Towednack (RG10/2335), Enumeration Districts 12 to 14, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1881. The 1881 Census of Towednack (RG11/2342), Enumeration Districts 13 to 15, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- Anglican. Towednack was constituted as a separate ecclesiastical parish from Lelant on 2nd August 1902.
The ancient parish church is located in OS Grid Square SX4838 and was dedicated to St Tewinock or St Towennocus (Winwallo). Wednack is the pet-name given to St. Winwalo, the patron saint of the church.
The church comprises a chancel, nave, and south aisle. The arcade consists of five four-centred arches, supported on three octagonal granite pillars. The only entrace is a south porch. The tower is a massive structure of two stages; it is finished with battlements.
Towednack church is the only church in West Cornwall to possess a Chancel arch and this dates from the late 13th or 14th century. The Nave and parts of the North Wall are Norman. The South Aisle was added in 1460 and the Tower in 1500. The Tower is squat and massive. There is a legend which purports to explain its lack of height. When the courses were being built by the masons had reached a certain level the devil came and knocked down subsequent building every night. This happened time and time again. As the work was resumed by day so it was removed by night. Finally the builders in despair erected the battlements as they are today. The Tower staircase in unusual, springing direct from the north-west angle of the nave in the church itself with five steps. At one time there was a Gallery at the west end of the Nave. Perhaps the most striking feature of the church is the stone Altar. It is roughly hewn from a solid block of granite and has five crosses incised at the centre and four corners (these crosses representing the five wounds of Christ). It is late Norman and was probably thrown out at the Reformation which required that altars should be of wood.
The 13th century church is best noted for its unusually short massive tower that is totally lacking in ornamentation. The church was substantiaklkly restored in 1869-70. A further descriptive information about the church, and taken from Blight's Churches of West Cornwall - 1864, is available. In 1933 Towednack was the first church in modern times to hold a service said in the Cornish Language followed by the Gorsedd Assembly.
- Non-Conformist. There are Wesleyan Methodist chapels at Nancledra and Coldharbour Moor.
Surviving church registers date from 1676. Whilst the Towednack Parish Register (PR) does not begin until 1676, there are extant Bishop's Transcripts (BTs) to help fill the gaps back to the 1500s. However, they are very sparse, and contain many missing years. The Towednack PR is missing for the years 1707-1720. This gap is partially filled by the extant BTs, and these are missing the years 1706, 1707, 1709, 1710, 1713, and 1714.
- LDS Church Records.
- The LDS Church batch numbers for Towednack are: C022791, M022791. These are searchable by surname.
- The IGI coverage of this parish is 1676 - 1812.
- The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1676 - 1983, Burials 1683 - 1985, Marriages 1677 - 1983, Boyd's Marriage Index 1597 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812, BTs 1597 - 1674.
- The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
- Pre 1813 Marriages
- 1813-37 Marriages
- 1813-37 Burials
- Baptisms 1676 to 1812, and 1859 to 1911, in this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- Towednack Baptisms 1676 to 1812 are available on-line.
- The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1720 to 1840 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest..
- Phillimore marriages 1676 to 1812, and marriage transcripts 1837 to 1911 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 1597 to 1836, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
The parish of Towednack 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.
- A history of the parishes of St. Ives, Lelant, Towednack and Zennor in the county of Cornwall by J. H. Mathews (Published 1892), is available on-line, courtesy of the Old Cornwall Society.
- An extract from Kelly's Directory of Cornwall 1856, covering Towednack, is available.
- An extract from Kelly's Directory of Cornwall 1873, covering Towednack, is available.
- An extract from Kelly's Directory of Cornwall 1883, covering Towednack, is available.
- An extract from Kelly's Directory of Cornwall 1893, covering Towednack, is available.
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
"TOWEDNACK, a parish in the W. division of Penwith hundred, county Cornwall, 2½ miles S.W. of St. Ives, its post town, and 6 N. E. of Penzance. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in mining and agriculture. In this parish are the Wheal Durla and Wreath Consol's mines. The living is a vicarage annexed to that of Lelant-Ewing, in the diocese of Exeter. The interior of the church contains some mural monuments. The Wesleyans have four chapels, and the Teetotal Methodists one. The Duke of Cleveland and W. B. Praed, Esq., are lords of the manor and principal landowners. A fair for the sale of cattle is held on the 26th of September."
- Ask for a calculation of the distance from Towednack to another place.
You can see the administrative areas in which Towednack has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
The Manor of Ludgvan Lese covered parts of the parishes of Ludgvan, St. Ives, Zennor and Towednack. The abstracts of the Manorial Records 1688-1739, which are taken from LDS film #1471491, are available on-line.
- Map of the Penzance Registration District in which the parish lies.
- An old map of Lelant, St Ives and Towednack in 1835 is available on-line from GENMAPS.
- A map showing Towednack in the context of its neighbours is also available.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW491378 (Lat/Lon: 50.186681, -5.516341), Towednack which are provided by:
- Google Maps
- StreetMap (Current Ordnance Survey maps)
- Bing (was Multimap)
- Old Maps Online
- National Library of Scotland (Old Ordnance Survey maps)
- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
- Magic (Geographic information) (Click + on map if it doesn't show)
- GeoHack (Links to on-line maps and location specific services.)
- Towednack parish was part of the Penzance Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
- Settlement Papers (1829, 1839) and Bastardy Bonds (1831), are available in the Cornwall Record Office.
- Wills & Admons for Towednack parish, 1660-1772 are available on-line.
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.