St Stephen’s by Saltash: selling insurance and saving souls

St Stephen's was the parish out of which Saltash, Cornwall’s most easterly town, was carved in medieval times. Now, the boot firmly on the other foot, Saltash devours its parent in turn as Plymouth’s commuter belt greedily siphons up south east Cornwall’s countryside. St Stephen's church before World War One. It's not advisable to walk … Continue reading St Stephen’s by Saltash: selling insurance and saving souls

St Stephens by Launceston: Draper and caterer

After consolidating their control over England the Normans cautiously extended their rule westwards, reaching the Tamar by 1070. A few decades later, they were busy building a border castle to awe the natives at what is now Launceston. Except that it wasn’t Launceston before the 1150s. The name Lansteffan, meaning the holy site of Stephen, … Continue reading St Stephens by Launceston: Draper and caterer

St Stephen in Brannel: a million-selling author

In earlier times, inland parishes such as St Stephen in Brannel in mid-Cornwall were places where the fiercely independent tinner-farmers of Cornwall flourished. This class had energetically enclosed the downs, carved out their smallholdings and built their cottages. However, from the early nineteenth century their way of life was being progressively undermined by the expansion … Continue reading St Stephen in Brannel: a million-selling author

St Michael’s Mount: A life near the ocean wave

Our third St Michael is even smaller than the other two. One of Cornwall’s iconic views and subject of many thousands of paintings and photographs, it’s the only Cornish parish that can comfortably be captured in one camera shot. St Michael’s Mount, where a Benedictine Priory was founded in the 1100s, had been granted in … Continue reading St Michael’s Mount: A life near the ocean wave

St Michael Penkevil: Closing the door on the closed parish

Like the Williamses at Caerhayes, the dominant family at St Michael Penkevil had amassed a fortune from Cornish mining in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The difference was that the Boscawens, raised to the peerage in 1720 as Viscounts and then Lords Falmouth, were an established family and already one of Cornwall’s elite. They … Continue reading St Michael Penkevil: Closing the door on the closed parish

St Michael Caerhays: mock-Gothic brings money problems

The next three parishes in the list share several characteristics in addition to their names. All three were small and owned virtually by a single family, examples of the ‘closed’ parish type, also seen in Cornwall at Boconnoc. All three hosted an impressive great house, home to members of the upper echelons of Cornwall’s landed … Continue reading St Michael Caerhays: mock-Gothic brings money problems