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Pendeen Church - - 16770.jpg
Pendeen parish church
Grid reference: SW384344
Location: 50°9’8"N, 5°39’42"W
Post town: Penzance
Postcode: TR19
Dialling code: 01736
Local Government
Council: Cornwall
St Ives

Pendeen is a village on the Penwith peninsula in far western Cornwall, three miles north-northeast of St Just and seven miles west of the nearest town, Penzance. It may be found along the B3306 road which connects St Ives to Land's End and the A30 road.

The village takes its name from the headland a mile from the village, where the Pendeen Lighthouse stands. The name 'Pendeen' is from the Cornish Penn Din.

The village gets its name from the headland on which Pendeen Lighthouse stands, a mile from the village. Like many other Cornish villages near the coast, Pendeen had a reputation for smuggling activities.

Pendeen is close to the South West Coast Path and in addition has a number of local footpaths for exploring the surroundings.


The parish now known as the Parish of Pendeen, was originally referred to as North St Just and was formed in 1846. It included a number of settlements in the eastern part of the Parochial Parish of St Just.[1] Today the Parish contains the hamlets of Bojewyan, Portheras Cross, Boscaswell Downs, Lower Boscaswell, Trewellard, Carnyorth and part of Botallack. In administrative terms though it is allocated to the civil parish of St Just.

Before the diocese created the new parish in 1846 "Pendeen" would have referred to the headland or to Pendeen Manor, rather than any of the specific hamlets.


Storm on the coast near the Enys

Horsefield writes of a large natural cave named 'Pendeen Vau', the entrance of which is to be found on a cliff. Apparently this cave is vast, going far below and into the sea but its existence is disputed by many villagers.

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

The village is overlooked by a hill, Carn Eanes, referred to locally as 'The Carn'. It is the site of a quarry which provided the granite to build Pendeen church.

Below Boscaswell is an area known as 'The Craft' which is mostly overgrown by gorse, fern and brambles, although many pathways exist. Here can be found abandoned mine buildings dating from the 19th century (including wash houses, engine houses and arsenic baths).

Pendeen boasts three beaches although some are more accessible than others. The largest of them, and the only one accessible at all states of the tide, was for many years the home of a wrecked ship the Alacrity until the army was called in to clear the wreck as it was presenting a danger to swimmers.

About the village

Pendeen Lighthouse at Pendeen Watch

The Church of St John is built of granite: it was designed by the parson (Robert Aitken), built by the villagers in 1851 and refurbished in 1878.[1]

At Pendeen Manor Farm is a 16th-century farmhouse (front added in 1670) and a fogou or vau 56 feet long, with a side passage of 24 feet.[2]

Below Pendeen Lighthouse can be found the wreck of 'The Liberty', although most of it has now been eroded away but the sea parts of the wreck are still visible at low tide on what locals call 'Liberty Rock' which is a favourite fishing spot.

Horsefield's Life in a Cornish Village

Pendeen was the subject of the book 'Life in a Cornish Village' by the Rev. F. J. Horsefield in 1893. Horsefield, being an amateur historian, wrote of a multitude of aspects of Pendeen's past.

He wrote, for example, that Chûn Castle, on the 'gump' (Cornish for moor) was most likely a Danish (pre-)viking castle that was built when the indigenous Celts (viz. 'Cornu-Britons') were joined by Danish military allies against the invading Saxons. The gump itself was a battlefield with many discovered urns indicating this violent history. In fact, there remains little trace of provenance for this assertion. Chûn Castle is much older than Horsefield thought and likely dates from the Iron Age, making it much more recent than the neighbouring Neolithic Chûn Quoit.

Boscaswell, arguably a part of Pendeen, traces its name to Bos Castle. Horsefield suggests that what is now Boscaswell was once the site of another Danish castle. Again now not thought to be true, again a wrongful supposition and the name has nothing to do with castles. At the lower end of Boscaswell, recent archaeological excavations are said to have suggested that the land has been occupied for more than 10,000 years. There is an ancient pagan well in Boscaswell which is where the name is thought to have its origins, the name suggests that it is the place (Bos) of Cas' (a person or entity or abbreviation thereof) Well (as in the English word). Problems often exist with such names when they become a hybrid of the indigenous Cornish and the persistent waves of English administration, land ownership and tourism that stretch back into time and continue today.

Horsefield also thought that mining has occurred in Pendeen for over 3,000 years and, without any evidence, he asserted that 2,000 years ago the Romans brought to Pendeen Jewish slaves from the sack of Jerusalem to work in the mines.

Geevor tin mine

Pendeen is famous for its Geevor Tin Mine, visited by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1957.

Pendeen Primary School was one of the schools studied in the 1950s by Iona and Peter Opie.[3]


The village has a community centre, a shop, a post office, a primary school, and a few small businesses. Community activities include an art club, a gardening club, silver marching band and a football club.

Pendeen in the media

In 2011, Overhill, a low-budget horror film, was shot in Pendeen with a cast made up largely of local people.[4]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Pendeen)


  1. "Re-opening of St John the Baptist Church". The Cornishman (17): p. 4. 7 November 1878. 
  2. Nikolaus Pevsner: The Buildings of England: Cornwall, 1951; 1970 Penguin Books ISBN 978-0-300-09589-0
  3. Opie, Iona & Peter (1959) The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren Oxford University Press
  4. Barrie, Josh (19 June 2013). "Penwith village and its residents to appear in film premiering in London". Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  • Horsefield, F. J. (1893) Life in a Cornish Village