St Germans, Cornwall

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St Germans
Cornish: Lannaled
St Germans Church and arched entrance - - 1024975.jpg
St Germans Church and lych gate
St Germans is located in Cornwall
St Germans
St Germans
 St Germans shown within Cornwall
Population 1,427 (2001)
OS grid reference SX359578
Civil parish St Germans
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SALTASH
Postcode district PL12
Dialling code 01503
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament South East Cornwall
List of places

Coordinates: 50°23′46″N 4°18′36″W / 50.396°N 4.310°W / 50.396; -4.310

St Germans (Cornish: Lannaled)[1] is a village and civil parish in east Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It stands on the St Germans River or Lynher River, part of the Tamar Estuary. It takes its name from the St. German's Priory generally associated with St Germanus, although W.M.M Picken theorises the church was initially associated with a local saint, but was gradually replaced by the 14th century. This magnificent and ancient Norman church is adjacent to the Port Eliot estate of the present Earl of St Germans. The other villages in the historic parish were Tideford, Hessenford, Minard Cross, Polbathick, and Bethany but new ecclesiastical parishes were established in 1834 (Hessenford) and 1852 (Tideford). In 1997 part of the St Germans parish was made into Deviock parish. The area of the civil parish is 10,151 acres (4,108 ha), and it has a population of 1,427.[2]

Parliamentary borough[edit]

The village was one of the rotten boroughs, electing two members to the unreformed House of Commons until the Reform Act 1832. As in many of the Cornish rotten boroughs, the franchise in St Germans was restricted to a tiny number of "freemen", rather than to all residents, but even they were not numerous—by the time of the Reform Bill, the male population of the borough was only 247. However, the previous census had shown that the whole parish (of which the borough made up only a fraction) had a population of 2,404, and the initial proposal was that St Germans should lose only one of its two MPs; but the Whig government subsequently decided that the availability of sufficient population in a surrounding parish should not save a borough from disfranchisement unless a substantial part of that population was already within the borough boundaries, amending the bill's schedules so as to extinguish both of the St Germans MPs. The Tory opposition attacked the decision as politically motivated (St Germans was a Tory borough), and the vote in the Commons was one of the narrowest in the entire Reform Bill debates.

The seal of the borough of St Germans was St German seated on a throne, with the legend "S. Prepositure Sci Germani in laya".[3]

Church history[edit]

See of St Germans[edit]

St Germans was originally the seat of the Bishop of Cornwall before the see was combined with that of Crediton in 1042. Today the Bishop of Truro's assistant (suffragan) bishop is known as the Bishop of St Germans in acknowledgement of this, although he has no specific links with the village. The first of these bishops was appointed in 1905. Under its Latin of Sanctus Germanus, the see is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees. The adjectival form of the name of the see is Cornubiensis, meaning "Cornish" or "of Cornwall".[4]

St Germans Priory Church[edit]

See St German's Priory

John of Cornwall[edit]

John of Cornwall, in Latin Johannes Cornubiensis or Johannes de Sancto Germano was a Christian scholar and teacher, who was living in Paris about 1176. Little is known of his life. From his names, it is surmised that he was a native of St Germans.


Sir William Moyle's Almshouses

Sir William Moyle's Almshouses also known as The Galleries date from 1583. They are unusual in that they consisted of six one-room apartments on the ground floor and a further six on the first floor. The upper rooms open onto a gallery along the front of the range, which is reached by stairs at either end. The almshouses were converted into four separate dwellings in the 20th century; it is a Grade II* Listed Building[5]

Fishing quay, railway station and viaduct[edit]

It was originally a busy fishing village in the 19th century. The St Germans Quay was busy in the last century with cargoes of timber, coal and limestone. Until the last war the trade in roadstone continued. Now St Germans Quay is home to the village sailing club; the Quay Sailing Club (QSC). The sailing club is now well established and plays a part in the life of the village. St Germans railway station was opened on 4 May 1859 at the west end of St Germans viaduct, 106 feet above the quay. It is notable for having the best preserved Cornwall Railway station buildings.

May Fair[edit]

There are references in St Germans to a fair in 1284, as well as a second fair on lammas day. A rental of landrake manor made in 1652 says ‘there was a Fayre keept yeerely within the Towne of St Germans upon the Last Tursday in Maye’ but notes that the fair has decayed and ended under Cromwells Government. However the fair was revived shortly after the restoration, possibly due to the similarly timed oak apple day to celebrate the restoration, and there are multiple references to it from then ono. Indeed it is listed annually in local newspapers until the late 1950s, with the date of the fair held on the nearest possible day to the 28th of may.

Robert Hunt in ‘Popular Romances of the west of england’ Describes a two day festival, that took place on the 28th and 29 May: On the 28th of may a 'mock mayor' was chosen 'with many formalities, remarkable only for their rude and rough nature' and cattle were brought into the village for the fair. On the 29th the mock mayor who had been 'supping too freely of the fair ale' was pulled around on a cart to claim his pretend jurisdiction... On this day anyone entering the village without the leaf or branch of an oak leaf in his hat was thrown in the trough of water fed by a stream on nut tree Hill.

On 27 May 2012 the Fair was revived. A new "mock mayor" was elected and a symbolic may tree was paraded through the village.


St Germans is twinned with Plouguerneau (Plougerne) in Brittany, France.[citation needed]

Notable Persons[edit]

  • William Scawen Politician and key figure in cornish language preservation.


  1. ^ Place-names in the Standard Written Form (SWF) : List of place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel. Cornish Language Partnership.
  2. ^ Office for National Statistics Census 2001: Parish Headcounts: Caradon Retrieved 30 January 2010
  3. ^ Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall: Lodenek Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-902899-76-7. 
  4. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 963
  5. ^

External links[edit]