Welcome to the ancient fishing village of
Polruan, famous for its boat building heritage. The Fowey river estuary is
a thriving centre for fishing, seafaring, shipbuilding and agriculture.
Polruan is part of the parish of Lanteglos-by-Fowey which is bounded by
water on three sides - Penpoll Creek to the north, the Fowey River to the
west and the sea to the south. The natural defences of sea and river, made
the area an attractive dwelling place for the earliest inhabitants. This
remoteness gives the area its unspoilt charm with its narrow streets and
narrower alleyways where flights of slate steps twist between the houses.
is based on the south coast of Cornwall on the river Fowey. If you are
looking at a map you will find this wonderful village opposite Fowey. It
is a small village with only one road in or out. The road goes through
the middle of the village and ends up on the village quay, where you will
find the Lugger Inn, which like most houses in the village has its own
interesting history. There are, however, two pubs in the village, the
second being the Russell Inn, which is literally just up the steps from
the Lugger Inn. Both pubs offer an excellent range of food at very
reasonable prices. From the quay you will find a passenger ferry that
will take you across to Fowey. The journey taking about 5 - 10 minutes.
The village also has a bus service (Polruan
Bus) which offers a comprehensive service in the
summer with regular trips to Looe, Polperro, Liskeard, St. Austell, Trago
Mills (great shopping) and Truro (some services do not run in winter).
At the top of the village itself there is a camp site should you feel
hardy, but they have mobile homes available to rent.
The beauty of either visiting or coming to stay in Polruan is that it is
unspoilt. Being built on the side of a hill it has, thankfully not
allowed too much expansion and commercialisation and as a result has
retained much of its charm. In the main street itself (Fore Street - as
you will find in most Cornish villages) you will find the Polruan Stores
and the Harbour Cafe, on the Quay is The Winkle Picker Shop (which is also
the Post Office).
Polruan has something to offer everybody. August bank holiday is a must
if you enjoy a carnival. Fowey starts the festivities off with their
carnival usually a week before bank holiday, with activities every night
ending with the candle lit processesion down the river which is followed
by a firework display. This has to be seen to be believed. The following
week Polruan has its carnival with a band and fancy dress for all ages.
On the quay itself you will find a wide variety of stalls with lots of
goodies to purchase. One stall will allow you to buy a ball for the ball
rolling competition. They have over a thousand numbered balls that they
roll down the main street, which is a rather steep hill. What you do, is
to pay to put your name against a particular number ball, and if that ball
is the first to reach the bottom of the hill then the prize is yours. The
carnival procession starts on the quay and goes to the school field at the
top of the village and then parades all the way round the village,
collecting money for charity on the way.
old fishing village and where most of the fishing boat building took place
(and today there is still an active boat yard, building and repairing
boats of all types). It is said that St Ruan was the first to occupy the
top of Polruan Hill, which is where St Saviours ruin stands today. Polruan
is very steep and well protected from the prevailing winds and Polruan
Pool is a haven for small boats. Polruan is part of the parish of
Lanteglos-by-Fowey and many of the residents are artists and writers who
are attracted to the quiet nature of the village. The Polruan Ferry
crosses the river to Fowey every 15 minutes every day of the year and is
still the best way in and out of the village, as the alternative is either
a drive to the Bodinnic Ferry or via Lostwithiel, a 40 minute journey.
This blockhouse is comparatively well preserved due to the efforts of
various enthusiastic councillors and conservationists on the Polruan side
of the river. There were two (the Fowey side being ruined beyond hope)
which were built end of the 14th century to protect the harbour from
pirates and the French. A chain was pulled up across the river between the
two blockhouses to stop vessels entering the harbour and conversely, to
stop them leaving if they had the temerity to "cross the line".
St Saviours Ruin
Standing high on the hill overlooking Polruan, St Saviours chapel was
built long before any of the surrounding churches and dates from the 8th
century. The remaining buttress indicates that the chapel was solidly
built and was a prominent landmark for ships. It would have been a good
lookout point for checking on approaching enemy vessels and the first
monks would have been effective coastguards providing a warning by ringing
the chapel's bells. St Saviours was enlarged by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in
Punche's Cross (or
Paunches. Pontius. Ponts. or the French Ponce' Cross)
Lying at the eastern tip of the Fowey River below the cliffs to the
south-west of St Saviours Point, this cross is said to be associated with
Pontious Pilate as well as Jesus' uncle, Joseph of Arimethea, who it is
said passed this way with the young Jesus to inspect his tin mines. It is
marked on very early charts and if the cross was damaged by storms, it was
reinstated by monks from Tywardreath. It is today under the responsibility
of the Fowey Harbour Commissioners. The true origin of the name is unknown
but it may be a corruption of Pontius. Whatever its real history, it is an
important warning, as when the tide is high, only the top of the cross is
visible, indicating that there are some very dangerous rocks below!
Originally an isolated rock (hence the name) which is now incorporated
into the main building, which was a sardine factory in 1883 but liquidated
shortly after in 1887 (presumably through the lack of sardines). The
Freehold of the factory was purchased by the Fowey Harbour Commissioners
in 1926. The transition from sail to steam and later, diesel engines,
created the need for an engineering works and from this time, the present
complex, slipway and works was gradually built. The Lantic Bay Dredger was
built here in 1953 and is still working full time.
This is the du Mauriers ' family home bought in 1927 and where Daphne du
Maurier wrote her first book 'The Loving .Spirit in l928/9, (published in
1931). It is also where she met her future husband Boy Browning whom she
married in 1932 and who was then a Major in the Grenadier Guards and later
became Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning. Daphne du Maurier was
created a Dame of the British Empire in 1969. The house has, until
recently, been lived in by Angela du Maurier and is now occupied by Daphne
du Maurier's son and his family. It was a boat-builders yard and had water
running right through what is now an impressive sitting room, with
magnificent views across the harbour out to the sea. The back wall of the
house is the rock cliff face and has been incorporated marvellously into
A unique and pleasant way to enter or leave Fowey, is to take the Bodinnic
vehicle ferry and cross the river. Bodinnic is on the east side of the
river, and, a short steep climb up through the village beyond 'The Ferry
Inn', on the right-hand side, can be found the start of the Hall Walk,
which takes you over Pont Creek and ends in Polruan, where a passenger
ferry returns you to Fowey. Along this pathway will be found the 'Q'
memorial and at Pont, the old wharf is still there and is part of a
delightful cottage which is now a National Trust property which can be
rented for holidays.
The information above has been reproduced with
the kind permission of Keith Charman