kids encyclopedia robot

St Agnes, Cornwall facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
St Agnes
Churchtown, St Agnes - - 367669.jpg
Churchtown, St Agnes
Population 7,565 Parish 7565 including Cross Coombe and Manor Parsley , Village 2230
OS grid reference SW713507
Unitary authority
Shire county
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town St. Agnes
Postcode district TR5
Dialling code 01872 55
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Truro & Falmouth
List of places
CornwallCoordinates: 50°18′43″N 5°12′14″W / 50.312°N 5.204°W / 50.312; -5.204

St Agnes (Cornish: Breanek) is a civil parish and a large village on the north coast of Cornwall, United Kingdom. The village is about five miles (8 km) north of Redruth and ten miles (16 km) southwest of Newquay. An electoral ward exists stretching as far south as Blackwater. The population at the 2011 census was 7,565.

The village of St Agnes, a popular coastal tourist spot, lies on a main road between Redruth and Perranporth. It was a prehistoric and modern centre for mining of copper, tin and arsenic until the 1920s. Local industry has also included farming and fishing, and more recently tourism.

The St Agnes district has a heritage of industrial archaeology and much of the landscape is of considerable geological interest. There are also stone-age remains in the parish. The manor of Tywarnhaile was one of the 17 Antiqua maneria of the Duchy of Cornwall.


Trevaunance Cove - - 315674
Trevaunance Cove
Clearing skies over St Agnes Beacon - - 69831
Clearing skies over St Agnes Beacon
Domenichino, Saint Agnes, c. 1620, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
Bawden Rocks from Trevellas Coombe - - 101651
Bawden Rocks from Trevellas Coombe
St Agnes, Trevellas Porth - - 36345
St Agnes, Trevellas Porth
Mouth of Chapel Porth - 1 - - 998281
Mouth of Chapel Porth

St Agnes, on Cornwall's north coast along the Atlantic Ocean, is in the Pydar hundred and rural deanery. St Agnes is situated along the St Agnes Heritage Coast. The St Agnes Heritage Coast has been a nationally designated protected area since 1986. The marine site protects 40 species of mammals and amphibians. Interesting features along the coast include Trevaunance Cove, Trevellas Porth, Crams, Chapel Porth, Hanover Cove, and Porthtowan. Some of these have beaches, and there are also two beaches at Perranporth.

The 627-hectare (1,550-acre) Godrevy Head to St Agnes site, is situated along the north Cornwall coast of the Celtic Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. It starts at Godrevy Head (with the Godrevy Towans) in the west and continues for 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the north east, through Portreath, Porthtowan and ends just past St Agnes Head, north of the village of St Agnes.

St Agnes Beacon overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is considered "the most prominent feature" of the Heritage coastline, with coastal and inland views that may be enjoyed during hillside walks. The National Trust landmark's name comes from the Cornish name "Bryanick". "Beacon" is a word of Anglo-Saxon origin referring to the use of a hill summit for a warning signal fire. During the Napoleonic Wars a guard was stationed on the hill to look out for French ships and light a warning fire on seeing any.

St Agnes Beacon and the surrounding cliff tops are one of the last remnants of a huge tract of heathland which once spread across Cornwall. This rare and important habitat is internationally recognised for its wealth of wildlife and from late summer onwards comes alive with colour, forming a brilliant yellow and purple patchwork of gorse and heather.

National Trust


To the northwest foot of the St Agnes Beacon is Cameron Quarry and St Agnes Beacon Pits, Sites of Special Scientific Interest noted for their geological interest. Trevaunance Cove is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Geological Conservation Review site of national importance for the ″... the two principal ore-bearing mineral veins associated with the Hercynian St. Agnes-Cligga granite″.


The original name of St Agnes was "Bryanick", a Cornish name which may mean pointed hill (i.e. St Agnes Beacon). Craig Weatherhill suggests it was a compound of brea (hill) and Anek (Agnes) and gives the first recorded form as "Breanek" (1420–99).

Neither Bryanick nor St Agnes, though, were established at the time of the Domesday Survey, 1086; the area was included in Perran Sand (Perranzabuloe). The St Agnes Chapel was named after the Roman martyr Saint Agnes who refused to marry a son of Sempronius, a governor of Rome and member of the Sempronia family. She was killed in 304 AD.

According to Arthur G. Langdon, writing in the 1890s, the inhabitants of St Agnes pronounced its name as if it were "St Anne's" to distinguish it from St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly.

History and antiquities


There are a number of ancient archaeological sites in the St Agnes parish. The earliest found to date are mesolithic fragments which are dated from 10,000 to 4,000 BC. They were found near New Downs and West Polberro.

During the Bronze Age barrows were created in many places in the area, During the Iron Age there were more forts and evidence of mining. A noteworthy Iron Age site is the Caer Dane hillfort, 3.5 km southeast of Perranporth. It had three concentric defensive walls surrounding the inner, topmost ring. St Piran's enclosed round was 200 metres (660 ft) wide and may have been a "playing place" (performance area). During the Middle Ages it was converted to a "Plain-an-gwarry (theatre)". It is still used sometimes as a theatre.

There are other prehistoric geographic features, but the specific age or time period is unclear. The Bolster Bank, or Bolster & Chapel Bulwark, at Porth, is an univallate earthen boundary about 3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi) long. It was likely used for defensive purposes, protecting the heath and valuable tin resources. Located on the "land side" of St Agnes Beacon, evidence of the bulwark can be seen sporadically from Bolster Farm to Goonvrea Farm, down to Wheal Freedom and then to Chapel Coombes. Although much of the boundary has been levelled, it is presently at its highest by Bolster Farm and Goonvrea where it is about 3.3 metres (11 ft) high. It could have been constructed as early as the Iron Age or some time in the Dark Ages.

Some Iron Age buildings and features were used during the Roman period from 43 to 410 AD.

See also: Bolster the Giant

Middle Ages

Trevellas Manor Farm - - 179222
Trevellas Manor Farm

The first chapel or church in St Agnes was believed to have been build as an early Celtic church sometime between 410 and 1066 AD; At that time it also had an enclosure. The Church of St Agnes was built on the same location around 1482. A medieval chapel with an enclosure stood at Chapel Porth, about 570 metres north west of Wheal Freedom. There was a holy well and a post-medieval (1540 to 1901) storehouse or shelter on the site. The chapel was destroyed in 1780, and the holy well remained until 1820. There still remains some ruins of the medieval enclosure and the small building.

During the Middle Ages there was tin working at a St Agnes Head tin works site with an extractive pit for openworks and lode back workings. There are also ancient signs of tin works at Wheal Coates, near the Chapel Porth area cliffs. The site includes an adit, which is a tunnel or access to the mine; dam; dressing floor where the ore was processed for smelting; and an open cut where excavation occurred in a ravine on the surface. There were also prospecting pits to locate ore below the surface and a wheel pit for a water wheel. A bothy provided lodging for the miners.

A manor was built in St Agnes during the Middle Ages. Between 1700 and 1800 a house was built on the site of the previous manor. It is now a convalescent home. A Trevellas country house was built during this period. Sometime between 1540 and 1901 a new house was erected where the country house once stood.

16th and 17th century

Forrabury and Minster - old lime kiln, Boscastle - - 842707
Example of another lime kiln in Cornwall (at Boscastle in the parish of Forrabury and Minster)

A chapel created between 1540 and the 1800s was located just north of Mawla. In its latter years the building was a shed for cows. By 1847 it was in ruins. The St John the Baptist church in Mount Hawke received the font from this church, although its original "Medieval" carvings were lost when the font was resculpted.

It was during this period that the Gill family were first recorded to be living in the area. The Gill family have traced their origins to St Agnes from as early as 1565, where it is believed that they were one of the more influential yeoman families.

The area saw an emergence of a variety of industries, such as public houses. The Miners Arms Public House was constructed in Mithian in the 17th century. It saw additions and renovations in the following two centuries. The building exterior is made of granite, killas rubble, brick and elvan. It is roofed in Delabole slate. Trevaunance Cove had a post medieval lime kiln that operated sometime between 1540 and 1901.

18th and 19th century

Medieval mining locations began to take on modern methods of mining in the 19th century, like that at Wheal Coates. Wheal Lushington is thought to have been the biggest tin mining operation in the area. Operational by 1808, smelting was also performed at Wheal Lushington. Modern mining practices were employed at Blue Hills Mine about 1810 and until 1897. There had been prior mining activities in that area before 1780. A number of copper, tin and arsenic mines operated during the 18th, 19th and some into the 20th century.

Allen's Corn Mill operated at Porthtowan between 1752 and 1816.

20th century

From 1903 until 1963 a railway station on the Perranporth line operated in St Agnes. After the railway station closed, the dismantled railway was used for the mining industry.

Between 1939 and 1940, Cameron Camp, also known as the 10th Light Anti-Aircraft Practice Camp, Royal Artillery, was built on the site of a Napoleonic Wars target. The camp was named after an area landowner and served as an army camp, slit trench and anti-aircraft battery. After the war the camp was used for housing. It was levelled in 1971.


Looking up Town Hill to the Church and St Agnes Hotel - - 68769
Looking up Town Hill to the church and St Agnes Hotel

There are churches and chapels in the district for three Christian denominations: Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholic.


St Agnes Parish Church
Celtic Cross St Agnes Parish Church - - 879431
The Cornish cross in the church

The Church of St Agnes is believed to have been built as a chapel of ease about 1482, on the foundation of what is possibly an ancient Celtic church (410 to 1066 AD). The records of the Diocese of Exeter refer to a chapel of St Agnes in the parish of Perranzabuloe in 1374. In medieval and early modern times St Agnes was part of the parish of Perranzabuloe. In 1846 it was made into a parish church and two years later the building itself, exclusive of the spire and tower, was restored by Piers St Aubyn. In 1905 the spire was rebuilt. It is a Grade II listed building.

On the southwest side of the church by the churchyard gate is a granite wayside cross from the Middle Ages. The stone is the remains of a lych stone used for holding coffins. Arthur G. Langdon notes that John Thomas Blight recorded its former use as a lych stone. The head of the stone is incomplete; both part of one side of the head and the uppermost part of the head have been cut off.

Mount Hawke Parish Church
Mount Hawke Church - - 272495
Mount Hawke church
St Peter's Church in the parish of Mithian - - 358291
St Peter's Church in the parish of Mithian
An Old Methodist Chapel on Trevellas Downs - - 229641
An old Methodist chapel on Trevellas Downs

In 1846 the Mount Hawke chapel-of-ease, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was formed from church members who had been meeting in a small building in the village; it became the parish church of the new ecclesiastical parish of Mount Hawke in 1847. The Bishop of Exeter consecrated the stone Perpendicular style building on 5 August 1878.

Mithian Parish Church

Another Anglican chapel-of-ease was St Peter's Church in Mithian. The Decorated style church was built between Mithian and Blackwater at Chiverton Cross in 1847 and dedicated to St Peter. There had been two or more chapels in Mithian prior to this church. One was at Mawla was subsequently used to shelter cows. The Mithian church closed in 2008.

Roman Catholic

A Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1882 on Trevellas Downs. In 1958 the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, was built in St Agnes to the designs of Cowell, Drewitt & Wheatly, architects.


There are several Methodist churches in St Agnes: the former Wesleyan Methodist church, the former United Methodist chapel and a former Primitive Methodist chapel. Mithian previously had a Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Mawla, Mount Hawke, Skinner's Bottom and Porthtowan all also had Wesleyan chapels. Skinner's Bottom also had a Primitive Methodist chapel. Wheal Rose had a Bible Christian chapel.


Outdoor activities include beach side walks, swimming, and surfing. The area has a number of paths for coastal walks or cycling. There are also art shows, craft fayres, tea parties and coffee mornings. Music and dancing can be found in the public houses. Annual events are Carnival week, Lifeboat day, Summer plays by the St Agnes Players, Victorian Fair Day and the Bolster the Giant pageant.

The Blue Hills area hosts the Motor Cycling Club's Lands End Trial for cars and bikes. The first run being held in 1908. There are several sports clubs including rugby union, football, boxing and netball.

The St Agnes Parish Museum provides information about the history of the St Agnes area. Mining and the coastal history figure prominently, including a 700-pound (320 kg) leatherback turtle.


The population of the St Agnes Parish is made up of the people in two St Agnes groupings, Blackwater, Mount Hawke, Porthtowan and Wheal Rose. In 2010, the population was 1,440 in St Agnes Central and 2,480 in St Agnes Fringe, Mithian and Trevellas for a total of 3,920 people. In Blackwater and Mount Hawke there were 2,130 people and in Porthtowan and Wheal Rose there were an additional 1,580 people. The total of the numbers from the Neighbourhood profiles is 7,630.

St Agnes Working Aged (16-64) Summary
Description St Agnes Central St Agnes Fringe, Mithian and Trevellas Blackwater and Mount Hawke Porthtowan and Wheal Rose Total Percentage of Total Working Aged
Working aged
Not claiming benefits
Out of work benefits
Other benefits, includes carers, disabled, bereaved and unknown

The statistics above were compiled from individual municipality information. The following is an aggregate statistic of the Community Network Area that St Agnes shares with Perranporth for managing local governmental activities with Cornwall Council:

St Agnes and Perranporth Community Network Area Population 2010
Community Network Area Age 0-15 Working age Age 65+ All Ages
St Agnes and Perranporth 2,700 10,600 4,100 17,400

This represents a 6% growth since 2001. With a total network area of 12,453 hectares, the population density is 1.40 acres/person.


There is bus service within Cornwall by a number of operators. The major operator in the Cornwall area is First Kernow. Service runs through the village of St Agnes and other towns. Rail service is offered out of Newquay railway station, Redruth railway station, Truro railway station and other western Cornwall municipalities, which is connected with bus service through the Ride Cornwall and Plusbus programs.

Ferry service is available to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance; Padstow to Rock; and other locations. Air travel is available through Newquay Cornwall Airport.

Images for kids

kids search engine
St Agnes, Cornwall Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.