Home of Wind in the Willows
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a free car park in the village next to the pub, and there is now a riverside walk.
The Ship Inn
Boconnoc House and Garden Ethy House and Gardens Lostwithiel Polruan
Lanreath Folk & Farm Museum Porfell Wildlife Park St. Winnow Barton Farm Museum