Mullion, Cornwall

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Cornish: Eglosvelyan
Mullion is located in Cornwall
 Mullion shown within Cornwall
Population 2,114 (Civil Parish, 2011)
OS grid reference SW678192
Civil parish Mullion
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HELSTON
Postcode district TR12
Dialling code 01326
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Ives
List of places

Coordinates: 50°01′37″N 5°14′28″W / 50.027°N 5.241°W / 50.027; -5.241

Mullion (Cornish: Eglosvelyan) is a civil parish and village in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Lizard Peninsula approximately five miles (8 km) south of Helston.[1]

Mullion civil parish encompasses the church town (now known simply as Mullion) and four smaller settlements: Mullion Cove and Predannack to the southwest; Trewoon and Meaver to the east. Mullion is bordered by the parishes of Gunwalloe and Cury to the north, Grade-Ruan to the east, Landewednack to the south, and by Mount's Bay to the west.[2] The parish also includes Mullion Island, a uninhabited island approximately half a mile (0.8 km) offshore from Mullion Cove. The island is home to large colonies of seabirds and is owned by the National Trust. An electoral ward with the same name also exists covering the parish also the surrounding land to Lizard Point. The population at the 2011 census was 4,364.[3]


There is evidence for prehistoric burial mounds, Celtic crosses and ancient chapel sites in the parish, and in more recent times evidence of copper and china clay mining, and a World War II airfield at Predannack. Several barrows at Angrowse yielded prehistoric remains when excavated.[4] Poldhu is the site of one of the main technological advances of the early twentieth century when in 1901, a wireless signal was sent to St John’s, Newfoundland, by Marconi. The technology was a precursor to radio, television, satellites and the internet, with the earth station at Goonhilly Downs a nearby example.[5]

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution stationed a lifeboat at Mullion Cove in 1867 but it was withdrawn in 1908. The boat house has since been demolished but its barometer is on display in the village.[6]


The parish name has evolved over the years, with references in the parish records to St Mullyon, St Mullian, Mullian, Mullyan, Mulion, Mullyon and St Mullion. In the Valor Ecclesiasticus carried out in 1535 the village name is recorded as Melyan.[7]

The parish takes its name from Saint Melaine, the Breton Bishop of Rennes[8] who supposedly took office in 519. He was a man of many aliases including the Latin version, Saint Melanius.[9] Reference to early publications and the 1908 Ordnance Survey maps show that the parish church was officially known as St Melan's until at least the start of the 20th Century.[10][11] In the late 19th century, Edmund Harvey, Vicar of Mullion, proposed that the parish took its name from 'Mellon' which he believed was an alias of Saint Malo.[10] Saint Malo was a Welshman who moved to Brittany (possibly with his cousin, Saint Samson) where he became Bishop of Aleth (the region now called Saint-Malo) around AD 541.[12][13] Harvey's ideas have since been discredited.[8] However, an area near one of the ancient chapel sites was known as St Malo's Moor in Harvey's time, and nearby were two fields known as Sampson's Crofts.[10]

Parish church[edit]

Mullion in relation to neighbouring parishes

The church is of 13th century foundation but the fabric is almost entirely of the 15th century. Features of interest include the fine series of bench ends and other old woodwork.[14]


Mullion Island viewed from the harbour at Mullion Cove

The parish comprises 5,007 acres (20 km2) of land, 8 acres (32,000 m2) of water and 55 acres (220,000 m2) of foreshore.[2] It is on the Lizard Peninsula, which lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Almost a third of Cornwall has AONB designation, with the same status and protection as a National Park. Mullion contains three designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) – West Lizard SSSI, Baulk Head to Mullion SSSI and Mullion Cliff to Predannack Cliff SSSI, which includes Mullion Island. Mullion Cliff to Predannack Cliff SSSI is noted for its geological and biological interest and contains 10 Red Data Book of rare and endangered plant species.[15] Much of the Lizard National Nature Reserve (NNR) is within the parish boundary.

Predannack Downs[edit]

The coastline at the edge of Predannack Downs

To the south of the village the land gently rises and levels out onto a plateau at a height of around 85 metres (279 ft) above sea level. In contrast to the northern part of the parish this area remains as semi–natural heath, the growth of which is encouraged by the change in geology south of Mullion Cove to magnesium rich serpentine rock. Known as Predannack Downs, it is part of the Lizard National Nature Reserve. In the centre of the downs lies the World War II, Predannack Airfield, currently a satellite of nearby RNAS Culdrose.

The southern extent of the parish is marked by a steep, narrow river valley cut into the downs, meeting the sea at Kynance Cove. The coastline along the edge of the downs between Kynance Cove and Mullion Cove consists of high dramatic sheer cliffs with the exception of a deep narrow cleft cut into the Downs at Gew-graze, also known as Soapy Cove. This cove is named after Soapstone (or talc), a type of serpentine rock found around the cove. Talc was quarried here in the 18th century. The talc, occurs as a vein in the serpentine, and forms an irregular scar heading from the shore inland. It was used for early porcelain production by Benjamin Lund in Bristol[16] and taken over by the Worcester Porcelain Manufacturers in 1752.[17]

There were a few short-lived copper mines in Mullion parish. Wheal Unity (or Goosecroft), to the south of Churchtown, opened in 1847, and to the south-east of Pollurian Cove was a mid 19th-century copper mine called Wheal Fenwick.[18][19] A native copper sheet 9m x 1.4m and weighing over 700 kg, from Wheal Unity was exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. Compared with the rest of Cornwall copper mining was insignificant and ceased by the end of the 19th-century.[20]

Mullion Churchtown[edit]

The main village of Mullion is situated in the north of the parish, approximately 65 metres above sea level and about 1 mile (2 km) inland of the coast which is to its west. The village sits at the end of two river valleys which run southwest from the village, descending steeply to meet the sea at Polurrian Cove and Mullion Cove. North of the village is a third river valley descending west to east and meeting the sea at Poldhu Cove. This river defines the boundary between Mullion and the neighbouring parish of Gunwalloe. The geology of this part of the parish consists mainly of Hornblende Schists, only changing to slate north of Poldhu Cove. The land around the village and on the upper slopes of the river valleys is mostly fertile land cultivated for arable crops and livestock grazing. The small hamlets of Trewoon and Meaver are situated about half a mile to the east of Mullion village. Today Mullion is the largest village on the Lizard Peninsula and is a centre for local services and amenities as well as a popular tourist destination. Mullion School is the local secondary school.


Mullion was surveyed for the Survey of English Dialects.[citation needed]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  2. ^ a b GENUKI, 2007. "Mullion."
  3. ^ "Ward population 2011, Retrieved 10 Feb 2015". 
  4. ^ Guide to South Cornwall. London, Ward, Lock, [c. 1955]; p. 72
  5. ^ Johns, Charles; Herring, Peter (2006). Kirkham, Graham; Herring, Peter, eds. Cornish Archaeology Hendhyscans Kernow (Cornwall Archaeological Society). 41–42 (2002–3): 185–6. ISSN 0070-024X.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  6. ^ Leach, Nicholas (2006) [2000]. Cornwall's Lifeboat Heritage. Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. p. 40. ISBN 0-906294-43-6. 
  7. ^ Valor Ecclesiasticus, 1535. "National Archives Series E 344"
  8. ^ a b Doble, G. H. (1962) The Saints of Cornwall, Part II. Truro: Dean and Chapter
  9. ^ Patron Saints Index: Saint Melaine[dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Harvey, E. G. (1875) Mullyon, its History, Scenery and Antiquities. ISBN 0-907566-70-7
  11. ^ Ordnance Survey Second Edition, 1908, Cornwall Sheet L080. S.E.
  12. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Machutus
  13. ^ St. Malo - Catholic Online
  14. ^ Cornish Church Guide (1925) Truro: Blackford
  15. ^ "Mullion Cliff to Predannack Cliff" (PDF). Natural England. 1993. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  16. ^ Bristow, Colin (1999). Spalding Adrian, Hartgroves Stephen, Macadam John and Owens David, ed. "Geology". The conservation value of abandoned pits and quarries in Cornwall (Truro: Historic Environment Service, Cornwall County Council). 
  17. ^ Felce, Robert. "Soaprock Coast". Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  18. ^ Sagar-Fenton, Michael; Smith, Stuart B (2005). Serpentine. Mount Hawke: Truran. ISBN 1 85022 199 5. 
  19. ^ Felce, Robert (2011). Soaprock Coast (First ed.). Mullion: Robert Felce. ISBN 978 0 9569895 0 5. 
  20. ^ "The Lizard" (PDF). Camborne School of Mines. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Mullion

External links[edit]