Home of Wind in the Willows

Web: www.lerryn.net

St. Veep & St. Winnow Parish Council


The village is situated on the River Lerryn (a tributary of the River Fowey) approximately three miles south-east of Lostwithiel. The population of the village was 305 at the 2011 census.

Lerryn straddles two parishes: north of the river it is in St. Winnow parish and south of the river in St. Veep parish. The river is tidal up to the village and there are stepping-stones across the river which are crossable at low water. The bridge was re-built by order of Queen Elizabeth I in 1573.

The village has a village school, a post office shop and a pub, The Ship Inn, which dates from at least 1762. The first known reference to the Lerryn is a 1284 Assize Roll. The bridge is mentioned in a 1289 Roll and the mill in 1346.

Smuggling was a part of village life in Lerryn, indeed one of the village lanes is called 'Brandy Lane' and it is said that a small cave which can still be found by an observant walker in nearby Ethy woods, hides the entrance to a tunnel from the wood to Ethy House cellar.

Ethy House is set in a landscaped park sloping down to the River Lerryn. The estate is of medieval origin and was developed in the 16th century by the Courtneys of Devon. The present house is a mid-19th-century remodelling of an 18th-century house which may have been by John Eveleigh of Lostwithiel. The south-east front is plain and of two storeys and seven bays. Ethy House, including the garden walls to north and east, is a Grade II* listed building.

A large earthwork known as the Giant's Hedge runs from Lerryn to Looe, which is captured in the rhyme 'One day when the devil had nothing better to do he built a hedge from Lerryn to Looe'. The hedge is believed to be a defensive dyke built during the Dark Ages.

There were four lime kilns in the village which were serviced by large sailing barges that carried their cargo up river from the deep port of Fowey, but the river has become silted over the years and unfortunately only small craft can now navigate the shallow waters. The lime kilns are still visible, even though one has been converted into a dwelling.

There is no church in the village, the nearest being St. Veep. However, there was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel and Sunday school.

The last boats to call were manure boats from Penryn in about 1930. The last surviving port official remembered a 200 ton craft coming in during the late 1890's delivering coal.

The village hall was built in 1926 as a village institute and extended in the 1950's. It had a major rebuild at the turn of the millennium and was re-opened in June 2000. by the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. It is dedicated to those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars and is called the Memorial Hall.

The village and surrounding parishes have been known for their apple orchards, and in 1839 there were 131 Orchards in St. Veep parish. Haye Farm has been producing cider since the 13th Century and the cider press there is over 150 years old. Penpol farm is also known for its cider.

Kenneth Grahame may have based the book 'The Wind in the Willows' or Tales of the Riverbank on Lerryn, or at least the Woods around Lerryn, Toad Hall could be Ethy Manor on the hillside above the village, and the Wild Woods might be Ethy Woods and The Great Wood now managed by the National Trust. The woods do have a magical quality and near a small wooden bridge by Ethy Rock there are some willows by the banks of the river, where Grahame may have sat and penned his story. It is possible that Fowey the large port on the River Fowey of which the River Lerryn is a tributary could be 'Troy Town'.

The Lerryn Regatta was a popular annual event and at one time it was called The Henley of the West. It was mentioned in the Royal Cornwall Gazette of 1870. There was a break for the first World War and the regatta re-started with a Peace Regatta in 1919. There was a second break for the second World War and the regatta re-started in 1953 and ran until 1968 when records show 4000 people attended.

Frank Parkyn, one of the members of the regatta committee and a successful miner, bought some woodland on the south of the river from the Rashleigh Estate in 1911. In about 1920 most of the trees were cut and started construction of a pleasure ground named Tivoli Park after the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen which Parkyn had visited. The park featured fountains, a pond, a cascade, obelisks plunge pool and bandstand. The park played a central role in subsequent regattas housing a fun fair, field sports and a pavilion. The park has now become overgrown but remains of the plunge pool can still be seen.

There is a free car park in the village next to the pub, and there is now a riverside walk.

Notable Residents

Burchard Kranich (1515–1578) a mining engineer and physician converted the flour mill to a smelting house for silver-bearing ore.

Philip Melvill (1795–1882) a British Bengal Army officer who went on to be Military Secretary to the East India Company, retired to Ethy house in Lerryn.

Victor Doney (1881–1961) an Australian politician, in the Country Party, was born in Lerryn.

Brice Mutton (1890–1949) an Australian politician, in the Liberal Party, was born in Lerryn.


The Seagull Race: an annual fancy-dress river race, in which competitors can race any type of watercraft as long as it is propelled by a British Seagull two-stroke outboard engine. - December


Pubs in Lerryn


Boconnoc House and Garden       Ethy House and Gardens       Lostwithiel       Polruan       Cornwall's Rivers

Lanreath Folk & Farm Museum       Porfell Wildlife Park       St. Winnow Barton Farm Museum