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Coordinates: 50°41′02″N 4°41′34″W / 50.6840°N 4.6929°W / 50.6840; -4.6929
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Boscastle is located in Cornwall
Location within Cornwall
OS grid referenceSX098906
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtPL35
Dialling code01840
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
50°41′02″N 4°41′34″W / 50.6840°N 4.6929°W / 50.6840; -4.6929
View from Boscastle harbour path leading to headland
Boscastle Harbour
The Coastwatch hut above the harbour

Boscastle (Standard Written Form: Kastel Boterel)[1] is a village and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall, England, in the civil parish of Forrabury and Minster (where the 2011 Census population was included) . It is 14 miles (23 km) south of Bude and 5 miles (8 km) northeast of Tintagel.[2] The harbour is a natural inlet protected by two stone harbour walls built in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville and is the only significant harbour for 20 miles (32 km) along the coast. The village extends up the valleys of the River Valency and River Jordan. Heavy rainfall on 16 August 2004 caused extensive damage to the village.

Boscastle lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The South West Coast Path passes through the village.


Boscastle was first inhabited by the Bottreaux family around 1080,[3] and the name of the village comes from Bottreaux Castle (pronounced "Botro"),[4] a 12th-century motte-and-bailey fortress, of which few remains survive. The castle, built sometime between 1154 and 1189 by Sir William des Bottreaux,[3] was anciently in the possession of the de Botreaux family, which became under William de Botreaux (1337–91) the Barons Botreaux. It was to the father of William 1st Baron Botreaux, also William, that Edward II granted a charter in 1312 to hold a market at Boscastle, along with a fair on the Feast of Saint James.[5]

The antiquary, John Leland in the mid 16th century described the village ″... it is a very filthy town and il kept.[6] Boscastle harbour is a natural inlet protected by two stone harbour walls built in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville (of HMS Revenge). It is the only significant harbour for 20 miles (32 km) along the coast. Boscastle was once a small port (similar to many others on the north coast of Cornwall), importing limestone and coal, and exporting slate and other local produce.

In the early 20th century Boscastle hosted a street dance similar to the Helston Furry Dance,[7] but it is unclear how old the tradition is or when this ceased.

Boscastle was once a centre for slate quarrying which remained a viable industry until around the turn of the 20th century. The remains of four quarries scar the cliffs between Boscastle Harbour and Trevalga.


The Rector of Boscastle is responsible for seven churches in the district: Forrabury (St Symphorian), Minster (St Merthiana), St Juliot, Lesnewth (St Michael and All Angels), Trevalga (St Petroc), Otterham (St Denis) and Davidstow (St David).[8] St Juliot is of particular interest to devotees of the works of Thomas Hardy since he acted as the architect for the church's restoration in March 1870 and this is where he met his first wife, Emma Gifford, who was the Rector's sister-in-law. Their love affair was the inspiration for his novel A Pair of Blue Eyes and, later in life, some of his poetry.

A Seaside Parish

In 2004 British television channel BBC 2 began broadcasting A Seaside Parish, a weekly series focusing on the life of the newly appointed Rector of Boscastle, Christine Musser.[9]


The village, with its picturesque harbour, is a popular tourist destination. Among the attractions are the Museum of Witchcraft, Uncle Paul's Emporium, the Boscastle pottery shop, and access to the South West Coast Path.

Much of the land in and around Boscastle is owned by the National Trust, including both sides of the harbour, Forrabury Stitches, high above the Boscastle and divided into ancient "stitchmeal" cultivation plots, and large areas of the Valency Valley, known for its connections to Thomas Hardy.

The former harbour stables (part of the National Trust estate) are now a youth hostel run by YHA, popular with walkers. The National Trust runs a shop at the harbour,[10] and a visitor centre in the Old Smithy.

Charles III, then Prince of Wales, visited Boscastle on 15 July 2019 to commemorate the anniversary of the Cornwall AONB and to visit a local Cornish hedge restoration project.[11]

The Boscastle Breakdown step dance, The Boscastle & Tintagel Players concertinas, cello & stepping is included in the Topic Records compilation The Voice of the People.[clarification needed]

The Wellington Inn is a 16th-century coaching inn near the harbour; its furnishings include church lamps which were donated by the architect Thomas Hardy and stained glass windows installed in 1846.[12]

Boscastle floods[edit]

Flood of 2004

A flash flood on 16 August 2004 caused extensive damage to the village. Residents were trapped in houses, on roofs, in cars, and on the river's banks, and the village's visitor centre was washed away.[13][14] Two Royal Air Force Westland Sea King rescue helicopters from Chivenor, three Royal Navy Sea Kings from Culdrose, one RAF Sea King from St Mawgan and one Coastguard S61 helicopter from Portland searched for and assisted casualties in and around the village. The operation was coordinated by the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre based at RAF Kinloss in Scotland in the largest peacetime rescue operation ever launched in the UK. A total of 91 people were rescued, with no fatalities.

The cause of the flooding was over 60 millimetres (2.4 in) of rainfall (typically a month's rainfall) fell in two hours due to thunderstorms developing on a convergence line.[15] The ground was already saturated due to the previous two weeks of above average rainfall; the drainage basin has many steep slopes, and has areas of impermeable slate causing rapid surface run-off. Boscastle is at the confluence of two rivers, Valency and Jordan;[16] a large quantity of water all arrived within a short space of time causing the rivers to overflow; the flooding coincided with a high tide, worsening the storm's impact.

Around 50 cars were swept into the harbour and the bridge was washed away, roads were submerged under 2.75 metres (9 ft) of water, making communication effectively impossible until flood-waters subsided. The sewerage system burst, so for a range of health and safety reasons Boscastle was declared temporarily inaccessible. Homes, businesses and cars belonging to more than 1,000 people were swept away; income from tourism was lost, which affected livelihoods and the local economy; there were vast numbers of subsequent insurance claims.[citation needed]

Flood of 2007

Boscastle was flooded again on 21 June 2007 although the scale of destruction was not nearly as serious as in 2004.


Boscastle Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1907. The club continued until the mid-1920s.[17]

Boscastle and Crackington Pilot Gig Club formed in 2004 and row from Boscastle harbour, Port Gaverne and Upper Tamar Lake. They have three gigs; Torrent (named after the 2004 floods). Rival and Golden Gear.[18]

Cornish wrestling prize tournaments, were held in Boscastle in the 19th century.[19]


  1. ^ "Cornish Language Partnership : Place names in the SWF". Magakernow.org.uk. Archived from the original on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 190 Bude & Clovelly ISBN 978-0-319-23145-6
  3. ^ a b "Bottreaux Castle". Waymaking. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  4. ^ As is pronounced the name of the former Devon manor of Molland-Bottreaux, a remnant of which name survives as the hamlet of Bottreaux Mill, Molland; also the title Baron Botreaux. Pointon, Graham E. (1990). BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (2nd ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press; p. 31
  5. ^ "CORNWALL". GAZETTEER OF MARKETS AND FAIRS IN ENGLAND AND WALES TO 1516. Centre for Metropolitan History. 17 November 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2021.
  6. ^ "On the North Coast (Continued from our last)". The Cornishman. No. 17. 14 November 1878. p. 4.
  7. ^ Hambly, Hilda (1992). North Cornwall Reflections. Bossiney Books. p. 28. ISBN 0-948158-79-4.
  8. ^ "Boscastle group of 7 Churches". Village website. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  9. ^ "Seaside priest is TV star". BBC News. 1 February 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2008.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Rosie Cripps Warm welcome for Prince Charles as he visits Boscastle ; Camelford & Delabole Post; 16 July 2019
  12. ^ Protz, Roger (2000) Britain's 500 Best Pubs. London: Carlton Books ISBN 978-1-85868-826-8; p. 279
  13. ^ "UK | England | Cornwall | Dozens rescued from flash floods". News.bbc.co.uk. 17 August 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Flooding in north Cornwall - 16 August 2004". Metoffice.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  15. ^ Wooltorton, Jodie (17 August 2021). "Weatherwatch: a meeting of winds in convergence zones". The Guardian.
  16. ^ The names Jordan and Paradise may have been borrowed from the Bible by a reinterpretation of the French "jardin", i.s.the garden of Bottreaux Castle; Armstrong, W. J. C. (1931) A Rambler's Guide to Boscastle; 2nd ed. Boscastle: the author; p. 10
  17. ^ "Golfs Missing Links". Golfsmissinglinks.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Boscastle & Crackington". GigRower. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  19. ^ Western Times, 7 July 1838.

Further reading[edit]

  • Williams, Michael (1975) Tintagel to Boscastle. Tintagel: Bossiney Books (pp. 29-50 relate to Boscastle and its vicinity)

External links[edit]