St Merryn: before the tourists arrived

Situated in the north coast of mid-Cornwall, St Merryn is now part of Cornwall’s supposed honeypot tourism periphery, with a high number of second homes and holiday cottages. As much as 60-70 per cent of the housing stock in the coastal areas of the parish had no permanent resident in 2011. We’re still waiting for … Continue reading St Merryn: before the tourists arrived

St Mellion: trees, wooden and family

St Mellion near the Tamar in south-east Cornwall is now home to an Australian-owned up-market golf resort with its hundreds of holiday lodges and periodic controversial planning disputes. In the 1800s it would have been much less manicured. It’s another in what sometimes feels like an endless run of smallish rural parishes that were mainly … Continue reading St Mellion: trees, wooden and family

St Martin in Meneage: the state of agriculture in the ‘Great Depression’

As we saw in the previous blog, farmers in south-east Cornwall were getting along relatively well in the face of the so-called ‘Great Depression’ of British agriculture that began around 1873. Were farmers in the west at St Martin in Meneage equally fortunate? On the Lizard it was reported in 1882 that more farms were … Continue reading St Martin in Meneage: the state of agriculture in the ‘Great Depression’

St Martin by Looe: what could keep them down on the farm?

St Martin by Looe was the mother church of the town of East Looe. By the 1800s East Looe had long been hived off, leaving St Martin as a small rural parish in east Cornwall, where farming employed almost 90 per cent of its men. Farm track near Treveria, where Thomas grew up Only two … Continue reading St Martin by Looe: what could keep them down on the farm?

St Keyne: farm labouring, shoemaking and gender relations

St Keyne is a small, easily overlooked parish in the south east Cornish countryside. In the 1800s its economy was almost entirely dominated by its farms. Farmers, their sons and farm labourers made up fully 92 per cent of the working male population in 1861. St Keyne Well, made famous by Robert Southey's poem of … Continue reading St Keyne: farm labouring, shoemaking and gender relations

South Petherwin: fleeing the farm

The farms, hamlets and cottages scattered across the rolling countryside of South Petherwin just south of Launceston hid a growing crisis in the 1870s. Those farmers that had previously thrived on their earnings from growing cereal crops began to see the price of wheat tumble dramatically. Railways and steamships were combining to bring cheap grain … Continue reading South Petherwin: fleeing the farm

Sancreed: dairy farming and baby farming

The villages and hamlets dotted around the moors and valleys of Sancreed parish in the heart of West Penwith in the mid-1800s housed a population of miners (around half of the labour force), farmers and labourers. In this part of Cornwall, the boundaries between these occupational groups were quite porous. The majority of farmers only … Continue reading Sancreed: dairy farming and baby farming

Poundstock: the mysterious case of the missing parish

A multitude of apologies to the thousands of readers of this blog from north Cornwall. Somehow this piece on the coastal parish of Poundstock south of Bude went missing. But rest assured; it’s not been lost and here it is only two days late. Domesday Book in 1080 recorded five families who were working land … Continue reading Poundstock: the mysterious case of the missing parish

Some people of Poughill (that’s Poffill)

Poughill is located in north Cornwall. Nowadays, it’s often overlooked, merely a part of Bude-Stratton civil parish and waiting with trepidation for the inevitable time it will be overwhelmed by the housing sprawl oozing out from the precocious resort town of Bude. But in the 1800s it was a proudly independent ecclesiastical parish of its … Continue reading Some people of Poughill (that’s Poffill)