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Mevagissey harbour
Grid reference: SX014449
Location: 50°16’13"N, 4°47’15"W
Population: 2,015  (2011)
Post town: St Austell
Postcode: PL26
Dialling code: 01726
Local Government
Council: Cornwall
St Austell and Newquay

Mevagissey is a village and fishing port in Cornwall. The village is approximately five miles south of St Austell. The parish population at the 2011 census was 2,015.

The village nestles in a small valley and faces east to Mevagissey Bay. The inner and outer harbours are busy with a mixture of pleasure vessels and working fishing boats, the remains of a once major industry. However, tourism has supplanted fishing as the dominant industry in recent years.

Mevagissey village centre consists of narrow streets with many places to eat and shops aimed at the tourist trade. The outer areas are built on the steep slopes of the surrounding hillsides and are mostly residential.


The name 'Mevagissey' arose from the dedication of the parish church and is unusual in that it refers in one word to two saints. The name is from the Cornish words "Meva hag Ysi", meaning "Meva and Issey", these being two Irish saints.

History and name

St Peter's Church, Mevagissey
Former Mevagissey Methodist Chapel

There is evidence of habitation near the village dating back to the Bronze Age.

The first recorded mention of Mevagissey dates from 1313, when it was known as Porthhilly, although

The old name of the parish was Lamorrick, and it was part of the episcopal manor of Tregear. The church was dedicated to Saints Meva and Ida in 1259 by Bishop Bronescombe and in 1329 Sir Otho Bodrugan appropriated it to Glasney College. The Norman church was cruciform and some Norman work remains but the church was more or less rebuilt in the 15th century. In the Commonwealth period the tower became ruinous and the bells were taken down and sold to a Quaker of St Austell.[1] According to tradition there has been a church on the same site since about 500 AD. Meva may well be the same as St Mewan and Issey is also the patron saint of St Issey.[2]

Mevagissey has three wells once reputed as holy wells. The Brass Well and Lady's Well[3] are both situated in the manor of Treleaven, the other holy well is within the gardens of Mevagissey House, the old vicarage.[4]

Towards the end of the 17th century, Porthhilly merged with the hamlet of Lamoreck (or Lamorrick) to make the new village. It was named "Meva hag Ysi", after two Irish saints, St Meva and St Issey (or Ida). At this time the main sources of income for the village were pilchard fishing and smuggling and the village had at least ten inns, of which the Fountain and the Ship still remain.

Mevagissey harbour

Mevagissey harbour at dusk

The current harbour is built on the site of a mediæval quay. The first Act of Parliament allowing the new port to be built was passed in 1774. The inner harbour, consisting of the current East and West Quays, was constructed from this time. An outer harbour was added in 1888, but seriously damaged in the Great Blizzard of 1891. The outer walls were rebuilt by 1897. The harbour was given charitable trust status in 1988.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution stationed a lifeboat at Portmellon in 1869, but in 1888 moved it to Mevagissey. It was kept afloat in the harbour for a few years but in 1896 was moved into a purpose-built concrete boat house. The following year a new boat, the James Chisholm (RNLI number 403), was installed. This operated until 1930 when the station was closed. The neighbouring station at Fowey had recently been equipped with a motor lifeboat and this could cover the coast around Mevagissey. The old boat house has since been used as an aquarium; that at Portmellon has been converted into a house.[5]

In 1880 there were around sixty fishing-boats engaged in the mackerel fishery and herring and pilchards are also important fisheries.[6] There are currently 63 registered fishing vessels in the harbour worked by 69 fishermen.

The harbour today also offers tourist fishing trips and there is a regular summer passenger ferry to Fowey.


The Heligan Estate is located on the steep slopes above Mevagissey, albeit mostly in the adjoining civil parish of St Ewe. The long term home of the Tremayne family, the estate is now best known as the location of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a recently restored Victorian garden.[7]

Mevagissey today

Each year at the end of June, Mevagissey celebrates Feast Week, a week of family fun, music, and floral dances through the streets; finally at the end of the week there is a carnival and a fireworks display.

Mevagissey is within the 'Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', as is almost a third of the county.

Hitler's Walk

A park in Mevagissey is popularly named Hitler's Walk by locals. Local folklore attributes this naming to the 1930s use of the park by a local councillor who was perceived to have displayed petty authoritarian tendencies; while others say it was because the home guard would patrol there looking for invasion forces from Germany.[8][9][10][11]

The park was the subject of controversy and national news headlines in September 2005 when signs bearing the name were removed after complaints to the council,[9] and again in January 2015 after the Mevagissey Parish Council decided to reinstate them.[10] Harvey Kurzfield of Kehillat Kernow described the decision to restore the signage as "outrageous and completely unfeeling" and urged Jewish people to boycott the village.[11] In February 2015 it was reported that the council had dropped the plans to reinstate the signs.[8]

In popular culture

The writer Susan Cooper based two of her books (Over Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch) in her well-known fantasy series The Dark Is Rising in Mevagissey (named 'Trewissick' in the books), where she used to holiday as a child. Mevagissey House is the vicarage from the first book 'Over Sea Under Stone', where Jane first meets the mysterious Mr Hastings.

The Wurzels wrote a song called "Mevagissey".

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Mevagissey)


  1. Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford; p. 160
  2. Ellis, Peter Berresford (1992) The Cornish Saints. Penryn: Tor Mark Press; p. 16
  3. Jenner, Henry (1925) "The holy wells of Cornwall", in: Cornish Church Guide. Truro: Blackford; pp. 249–57 (pp. 251, 254)
  4. Information on Mevagissey  from GENUKI
  5. Leach, Nicholas (2006) [2000]. Cornwall's Lifeboat Heritage. Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. p. 36. ISBN 0-906294-43-6. 
  6. "Mevagissey Fishery". The Cornishman (85): p. 7. 26 February 1880. 
  7. Smit, Tim (1999). The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Victor Gollancz. ISBN 0-575-06765-9. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Council abandons plans to name path Hitlers Walk". The Daily Telegraph. 21 February 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Anger over 'Hitler' signs removal". BBC News Channel. 8 September 2005. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Heather Saul (31 January 2015). "Jewish community urged to boycott Cornwall village after residents vote for 'Hitlers Walk' sign to be reinstated". The Independent. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "BBC News – Jewish community's boycott call over village's Hitler sign". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 31 January 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.