PADSTOW (Cornish : Lannwedhenek ) is a town, civil parish and fishing
port on the north coast of
Cornwall , England, United Kingdom. The
town is situated on the west bank of the
River Camel estuary
approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of
Wadebridge , 10 miles (16
km) northwest of
Bodmin and 10 miles (16 km) northeast of
The population of
Padstow civil parish was 3,162 in the 2001 census ,
reducing to 2,993 at the 2011 census In addition an electoral ward
with the same name exists but extends as far as
Trevose Head . The
population for this ward is 4,434
* 1 History
* 2 Churches
* 3 Economy
* 4 Transport
* 4.1 Maritime traffic
* 4.2 Railway
* 4.3 Footpaths
* 5 Culture
* 5.1 \'Obby \'Oss festival
* 5.2 Mummers\' or Darkie Day
* 6 Notable residents
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
Padstow was originally named Petroc-stow, Petroc-stowe, or 'Petrock's
Place', after the Welsh missionary
Saint Petroc , who landed at
Trebetherick around AD 500. After his death a monastery (Lanwethinoc,
the church of Wethinoc, an earlier holy man) was established here
which was of great importance until "Petroces stow" (probably Padstow)
was raided by the Vikings in 981, according to the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle . Whether as a result of this attack or later, the monks
moved inland to
Bodmin , taking with them the relics of St Petroc.
The cult of
St Petroc was important both in
Padstow and Bodmin.
Padstow is recorded in the
Domesday Book (1086) when it was held by
Bodmin Monastery. There was land for 4 ploughs, 5 villeins who had 2
ploughs, 6 smallholders and 24 acres of pasture. It was valued at 10/-
(10 shillings or 50p).
In the medieval period
Padstow was commonly called ALDESTOWE ('old
place' in contrast to Bodmin, the 'new place'). or HAILEMOUTH
("hayle" being Cornish for estuary). The modern Cornish form
Lannwedhenek derives from Lanwethinoc and in a simpler form appears in
the name of the Lodenek Press, a publisher based in Padstow.
The seal of the borough of
Padstow was a ship with three masts, the
sails furled and an anchor hanging from the bow, with the legend
Time Team visited
Padstow for the episode "From Constantinople to
Cornwall," broadcast on 9 March 2008.
There are two Cornish crosses in the parish: one is built into a wall
in the old vicarage garden and another is at Prideaux Place
(consisting of a four-holed head and part of an ornamented cross
shaft). There is also part of a decorated cross shaft in the
The church of
St Petroc is one of four said to have been founded by
the saint, the others being
Little Petherick , Parracombe and
It is quite large and mostly of 13th and 14th century date. There is a
fine 15th century font of
Catacleuse ; the pulpit of c. 1530 is also
of interest. There are two fine monuments to members of the Prideaux
family (Sir Nicholas, 1627 and Edmund, 1693): there is also a
monumental brass of 1421.
Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant,
Traditionally a fishing port,
Padstow is now a popular tourist
destination . Although some of its former fishing fleet remains, it is
mainly a yachting haven on a dramatic coastline with few easily
navigable harbours. The influence of restaurateur
Rick Stein can be
seen in the port, and tourists travel from long distances to eat at
his restaurant and cafés.
However, the boom in the popularity of the port has caused house
price inflation both in the port and surrounding areas, as people buy
homes to live in, or as second or holiday homes. This has meant
significant numbers of locals cannot afford to buy property in the
area, with prices often well over 10 times the average salary of
around £15,000. This has led to a population decline.
Plans to build a skatepark in
Padstow have been proposed and funds
are being raised to create this at the Recreation Ground (Wheal
During the mid-19th century, ships carrying timber from Canada
Quebec City ) would arrive at
Padstow and offer cheap
travel to passengers wishing to emigrate. Shipbuilders in the area
would also benefit from the quality of their cargoes. Among the ships
that sailed were the barques Clio , Belle and Voluna ; and the brig
Dalusia . Padstow-Rock ferry
The approach from the sea into the
River Camel is partially blocked
Doom Bar , a bank of sand extending across the estuary which is
a significant hazard to shipping and the cause of many shipwrecks .
For ships entering the estuary, the immediate loss of wind due to the
cliffs was a particular hazard, often resulting in ships being swept
onto the Doom Bar. A manual capstan was installed on the west bank of
the river (its remains can still be seen) and rockets were fired to
carry a line to ships so that they could be winched to safety.
There have been ferries across the Camel estuary for centuries and
the current service, the
Black Tor Ferry , carries pedestrians between
Padstow and Rock daily throughout the year.
From 1899 until 1967
Padstow railway station was the westernmost
point of the former Southern Railway . The railway station was the
terminus of an extension from
Wadebridge of the former
Wadebridge Railway and North
Cornwall Railway . These lines were part
London and South Western Railway (LSWR), then incorporated into
the Southern Railway in 1923 and
British Railways in 1948, but were
proposed for closure during the
Beeching Axe of the 1960s.
The LSWR (and Southern Railway) promoted
Padstow as a holiday resort;
these companies were rivals to the
Great Western Railway (which was
the larger railway in the West of England). Until 1964,
served by the
Atlantic Coast Express – a direct train service
to/from London (Waterloo) – but the station was closed in 1967. The
old railway line is now the
Camel Trail , a footpath and cycle path
which is popular owing to its picturesque route beside the River
Camel. One of the railway mileposts is now embedded outside the
Shipwright's Arms public house on the Harbour Front.
Today, the nearest railway station is at
Bodmin Parkway , a few miles
south of Bodmin. Plymouth Bus operate buses to the station.
South West Coast Path runs on both sides of the River Camel
estuary and crosses from
Padstow to Rock via the Black Tor ferry. The
path gives walking access to the coast with
Stepper Point and Trevose
Head within an easy day's walk of Padstow.
The Saints\' Way long-distance footpath runs from
the south coast of Cornwall.
Camel Trail cycleway follows the course of the former railway
(see above) from Padstow. It is open to walkers, cyclists and horse
riders and suitable for disabled access. The 17.3-mile (27.8 km) long
route leads to
Wadebridge and on to
Wenford Bridge and
Bodmin , and is
used by an estimated 400,000 users each year generating an income of
approximately £3 million a year.
\'OBBY \'OSS FESTIVAL
Main article: \'Obby \'Oss festival The 'Old Oss' capturing a
passing maiden during the Mayday festival
Padstow is best known for its "'Obby 'Oss" festival. Although its
origins are unclear, it most likely stems from an ancient fertility
rite , perhaps the Celtic festival of
Beltane . The festival starts at
midnight on May Eve when townspeople gather outside the Golden Lion
Inn to sing the "Night Song." By morning, the town has been dressed
with greenery and flowers placed around the maypole . The excitement
begins with the appearance of one of the 'Obby 'Osses. Male dancers
cavort through the town dressed as one of two 'Obby 'Osses, the "Old"
and the "Blue Ribbon" 'Obby 'Osses; as the name suggests, they are
stylised kinds of horses. Prodded on by acolytes known as "Teasers,"
each wears a mask and black frame-hung cape under which they try to
catch young maidens as they pass through the town. Throughout the day,
the two parades, led by the "Mayer" in his top hat and decorated
stick, followed by a band of accordions and drums, then the 'Oss and
the Teaser, with a host of people - all singing the "Morning Song." -
pass along the streets of the town. Finally, late in the evening, the
two 'osses meet, at the maypole, before returning to their respective
stables where the crowd sings of the 'Obby 'Oss death, until its
resurrection the following May Eve. The 'Old Oss' party attending
the Oss with dozens of accordions and drums
MUMMERS\' OR DARKIE DAY
Boxing Day and New Year\'s Day , it is a tradition for some
residents to don blackface and parade through the town singing
'minstrel ' songs. This is an ancient midwinter celebration that
occurs every year in
Padstow and was originally part of the pagan
heritage of midwinter celebrations that were regularly celebrated all
Cornwall where people would guise dance and disguise themselves
by blackening up their faces or wearing masks. Recently the people of
Penzance have revived its midwinter celebration with the Montol
Festival which like
Padstow at times would have had people darkening
or painting their skin to disguise themselves as well as masking.)
Folklorists associate the practice with the widespread British custom
of blacking up for mumming and morris dancing, and suggest there is no
record of slave ships coming to Padstow. Once an unknown local charity
event, the day has recently become controversial, perhaps since a
description was published. Also some now suggest it is racist for
white people to "black up" for any reason. Although "outsiders" have
linked the day with racism, Padstonians insist that this is not the
case and are incredulous at both description and allegations. Long
before the controversy Charlie Bate, noted
Padstow folk advocate,
recounted that in the 1970s the content and conduct of the day were
carefully reviewed to avoid potential offence. The Devon and Cornwall
Constabulary have taken video evidence twice and concluded there were
no grounds for prosecution. Nonetheless protests resurface annually.
The day has now been renamed Mummers' Day in an attempt to avoid
offence and identify it more clearly with established Cornish
tradition. The debate has now been subject to academic scrutiny.
Other similar traditions that use the black-face disguise and are
still celebrated within the
United Kingdom are the Border Morris
dancers, and Molly dancers of the
East Midlands and
East Anglia .
Donald Rawe , Cornish publisher , dramatist , novelist , and poet
, was born in Padstow. He became a member of
Gorseth Kernow in 1970,
Bardic name of Scryfer Lanwednoc ('Writer of Padstow').
Rick Stein , restaurateur and celebrity chef , owns several
restaurants and businesses in the town.
Enys Tregarthen , author and folklorist
Paul Ainsworth , Michelin starred chef, runs several businesses in
* ^ "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" (PDF).
Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
* ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200
* ^ Parish population for North
Council and ONS , 2001
* ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
* ^ "Ward population 2011 census". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
* ^ Orme, Nicholas (2007)
Cornwall and the Cross. Chichester:
Phillimore; p. 10 " ... presumably by a Viking attack"
* ^ Orme (2007); p. 10
* ^ Thorn, C., et al., eds. (1979) Cornwall. (Domesday Book; 10.)
Chichester: Phillimore; entry 4,4
* ^ Henderson, C. "Parochial history Padstow", in: Cornish Church
Guide (1925). Truro: Blackford, pp. 173-74)
* ^ Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall:
Lodenek Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-902899-76-7 .
* ^ Langdon, A. G. (1896) Old Cornish Crosses. Truro: Joseph
Pollard; pp. 196-97, 396-98 pp. 129-130
Padstow Skate Park: Home Page
* ^ Immigrants to Canada: Vessels Arriving at Quebec 1843
* ^ John Eynon\'s Journal: Voyage to Quebec in 1833 from Padstow
Camel Trail website
* ^ A B North
Cornwall District Council (June 2003). "North
Cornwall Matters - Partnership Improves The Trail" (PDF). North
Cornwall Matters. North
Cornwall District Council. p. 3. Archived from
the original (PDF) on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
* ^ J. R. Daeschner, True Brits (Arrow, London, 2004)
* ^ "Way out West", The Guardian 3 January 2007
* ^ M. O'Connor, Ilow Kernow 3 (St Ervan, 2005) p27
* ^ "No action on town\'s \'Darkie Day\'". BBC News. 10 March 2005.
Retrieved 3 January 2010.
* ^ "MP calls for \'Darkie Day\' to stop". BBC News. 11 January
2006. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
* ^ M. Davey, Guizing: Ancient Traditions and Modern Sensitivities,
In: P. Payton (ed), Cornish Studies 14 (Exeter, 2006) p.229
* ^ "Passionate patriot\'s book is a cracking yarn full of
originality and enthusiasm". This Is Cornwall. 8 June 2010. Archived
from the original on 15 March 2011.
* Henderson, Charles (1938) "
Padstow Church and Parish" in: Doble,
G. H. Saint Petrock, a Cornish Saint; 3rd ed. ; pp. 51–59