St Agnes

Picture of Walkers on Cliffs

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The very essence of the Poldark novels, the images, feelings and history they draw upon are to be found here at St. Agnes. St. Agnes is often described as a friendly retreat. Its people have a strong sense of history and a great love of home; perhaps it is this pervading warmth that affects those who stay here.

The visitor to St. Agnes cannot fail to be impressed by St Agnes Beacon, now owned by the National Trust, St. Agnes derives its old Cornish name Bryanick (pointed or prominent hill) from this dominant landmark, its 629 feet appearing all the greater because of its isolation in the landscape

A Picture of St Agnes Stippy Stappy

With the lee of the hill for a pillow and with it's feet in the sea, St. Agnes lies comfortably in the heather like an old country giant. Founded on tin mining, but now a coastal resort, its dual character is reflected in its history and fine vernacular architecture. Miner's cottages and mine owners houses, the sea Captain's cottages of 'Stippy Stappy', picturesque engine houses and mine buildings, the lost harbours of Trevaunance Cove and the old market standings of Churchtown, all evoke times when values and fortunes were different.

Todays businesses, shops and hotels, fishing boats, village events and deep family ties, maintain continuity with the past. St. Agnes is a friendly retreat its people have a strong sense of history and a great love of home. Perhaps it is this pervading warmth that affects those who stay here.

TREVAUNANCE TRAIL

The Trevaunance Trail follows the rise and-fall of the Manor of Trevaunance and the Tonkin family.

From ancient times the Tonkin family monopolised the mining wealth of the area and when they saw that greater wealth could be achieved by opening up trade from Ireland and Wales they set about trying to construct a harbour at Trevaunance Cove. After three attempts a harbour was built in 1710 but the process had been costly over 6,000 had been spent on the harbour 'experiments' and the family were in debt. The estate was relinquished in 1719 and the unmaintained harbour was swept away into the sea in 1730. Sixty years later, a copper mining boom added new impetus to the quest for a harbour. The newly formed St. Agnes Harbour co. constructed the last of the St. Agnes harbours in 1798. The harbour enabled the development of pilchard fishery and general seaborne trade. The harbour stood for 118 years but again due to the lack of maintenance it was washed away in the storms of 1915/16.

Walks from 30 minutes to two hours are possible based in and around Trevaunance Cove. A leaflet highlighting these walks and points of interest on the way is available at many outlets in the area.

WALKING IN AND AROUND ST. AGNES

St. Agnes offers a variety of coastal, inland and valley walks, highlighting a huge range of interests from bird watching and wildlife to geology, folklore and industrial archaeology.

A particularly popular local walk through the Jerichco Valley runs inland from Trevellas Porth. Parking in Trevellas Coombe is limited although a new parking area at Wheal Kitty provides an alternative to the steep, descent into Trevellas Coombe. From the car park a circular walk following the stream up to the footbridge will then allow the walker to ascend out of the valley to the B3285, turning right along the grass verge and immediately right again into a farm lane known as Football Lane back to the car park.

PLACES TO VISIT

ST. AGNES BEACON

The visitor to St. Agnes can not fail to be impressed by St. Agnes Beacon, a landmark now owned by the National Trust. St. Agnes derives its old Cornish name, Bryanick (pointed or prominent hill) from this dominant landmark. It's 629 feet appear all the greater because of it's isolation in the landscape. The view from the top of the Beacon offers a truly panoramic view of the cliffs from St. Ives in the south to Padstow in the North.

BOLSTER & CHAPEL PORTH

Legend has it that Bolster was a giant who fell in love with a young maiden called Agnes. As proof of his love Agnes demanded that the giant fill a small hole at the edge of the cliff with his blood. Being such a small hole the giant willingly did so. However, unbeknownst to him, the hole was bottomless and opened into a sea cave. Bolster continued to fill the cave until he was so weak that he fell into the sea and was no more (the blood stained cave may be found at Chapel Porth).

ST. AGNES PARISH MUSEUM

The St. Agnes Parish Museum offers an opportunity to study in more detail the landscape and the history of St. Agnes. The Museum is run entirely by volunteers and is a registered charity established to promote the heritage of St. Agnes. The mining and seafaring history of St. Agnes are vividly explained in displays and on film. The natural history display includes a 700lb leatherback turtle. Free parking is available in the main car park in the centre of St. Agnes village.

Image of Wheal Coates, Towanroath shaft a local mineWHEAL COATES

One of the best known and most picturesque groups of clifftop mine buildings in Cornwall, offering superb coastal views. The buildings are owned by the National Trust.

PRESINGOLL BARNS

The Cornish Craft experience. Situated on the B3277, Presingoll Barns is a unique complex surrounded by beautiful countryside. Visitors have the chance to see pottery, candle carving and fudge making and also for a small charge can try their hands at the potters wheel or at plate and pot decoration. New for 1995 visitors can dip their own candles. The Bakehouse offers light lunches and cream teas-or why not bring your own picnic. Entrance to Presingoll Barns is free. For further details telephone (01872) 553007. To book pot throwing telephone (01872) 553170.

THE HERITAGE COAST

The landscape around St. Agnes is promoted and cared for by the St. Agnes to Newquay Countryside Management Service. The service strives to balance the differing needs of the many users of the countryside and focuses on building an understanding between all those who live, work and visit the area so that all are working towards a common goal of protection and appreciation of the environment.

The countryside officer runs a comprehensive series of events throughout the year and details are available from the Countryside Management Service (01637) 851889.


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1999 Simon Williams