History alive in a beautiful setting
Lostwithiel Town Council
The perfect holiday in this most beautiful part of Cornwall balances coast and beach with exploration of an historic interior. The town sits on the A390 eight miles east of St. Austell and is known for its free parking. It also sits at the head of the estuary of the River Fowey. The population of the town was 2,899 at the 2011 census.
Sir John Betjeman is reputed to have said 'there is history in every stone in Lostwithiel', and this is evident to the interested observer who walks the streets and lanes of the town.
From Fowey, go upstream to the point where the estuary becomes a river, and you will discover Lostwithiel, Cornwall's ancient capital, which gained its royal charter in 1189 and sits astride ancient ley lines of trade and pilgrimage. Anglers fish the pools for salmon, trout and sea trout as they have done for centuries. The Saints' Way, born before Christ, wanders close by. Tin from the mines around Bodmin and Lostwithiel was smelted and coined in the Duchy Palace till Elizabethan times, before being loaded and drifted downstream. Charles I defeated Cromwell's army nearby in 1644 during the Civil War. But there had been an earlier, still more warlike visitor and a more permanent calling card.
The town charter dates back more than 800 years and Lostwithiel was the capital of Cornwall until 1752. The wealth of Lostwithiel was founded on the lucrative Cornish tin trade. Ironically, it was this same trade which caused the decline of the town, the River Fowey silted up from tin waste flowing off Bodmin Moor The lovely old bridge was built in 1290 and large sailing vessels once traded up to this point. Incredibly, it was only in 1939 when the new by-pass was built that this ceased being the main road across the river and even today pedestrians use the passing places over the bridge piers, to allow traffic through, just as in the days of horse drawn vehicles.
Today, in spite of the silting, shallow draught boats can still make the journey up river from Fowey. Most of the town is hidden from passing traffic as the main road skirts around the outer edge of the main centre. Part of the ruins of Duchy Palace, once known as the Great Hall of Lostwithiel, have been incorporated into the existing town. Built by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall in the 8th century, it housed the Parliament of Cornwall when Lostwithiel was the seat of government and a Stannary town for tin in the county. St. Bartholomew's church is well known for its unusual 110 foot high lantern spire - unique in Cornwall - and dates from the 14th century. It was used as a refuge by Royalists in the Civil War. The font is more pagan than Christian. Made around the middle of the 8th century, it was given to the Church by a mayor of Lostwithiel. During the Civil War in 1644, the diarist 'Symonds' records: "In contempt of Christianity, Religion and the Church, they (the Roundheads) brought a horse to the font, and there, with their kind of ceremonies, did, as they called it, christen the horse and called him by the name of Charles in contempt of his Sacred Majesty". The damage caused during this period (and perhaps previously by agents of Henry VIII) has defaced several of the carvings, but they are still intact enough to appreciate the various scenes and the stone masons craft. A Ley line is said to pass through the church entering at an angle from the south-west.
The Old Duchy Palace stands proud among the new and old buildings of Lostwithiel. The £1m project to preserve it has taken four years to complete and includes a permanent heritage exhibition about the palace and its restoration.
Modern Lostwithiel has developed into a town with a community life, heart-warming to residents and visitors alike. To be appreciated, it needs to be explored on foot. Social and religious groups, the museum, shops for your practical needs, specialist shops, plenty of accommodation, places for eating out, an array of craft and cultural activities - all these and more, have helped to make Lostwithiel a little Cornish metropolis. Antiques shops and regular fairs have made Lostwithiel the antiques capital of Cornwall with ample free parking. The new Community Centre opened in 1983.
Situated nearby is Lostwithiel Golf & Country Club which has an 18 hole course, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis courts and fishing lakes.
Lostwithiel Museum Fore Street, PL22 0BW, Tel: (01208) 873593, Open May - September.
Lostwithiel still has a railway station on the main line through Cornwall, but also once had a branch line down to Fowey which was constructed in 1863. The branch line originally carried both passengers and goods traffic, but since 1965 it was only used to carry china clay down to Fowey docks. The main line railway also served the Unigate Creamery developed between the years 1932-1991 and, as the need for railway workers diminished, it became the major employer in Lostwithiel, until it too closed down.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at the Community Centre, Liddicote Road, PL22 0HE.
Lanhydrock Valley Walk - 3 miles - Lostwithiel to Lanhydrock
Lerryn Riverside Woodland Walk - 4.5 miles - Lostwithiel to Lerryn
Restormel Castle Walk - 3 miles - Lostwithiel to Restormel Castle Circular
First built before the development of Lostwithiel, around 1100 to control a crossing point of the River Fowey. The castle lost its strategic importance with the building of a bridge in the town but, Lostwithiel's growing prosperity at the time, led the Earls of Cornwall to move their centre of administration here from Launceston. Now a ruin, the Castle stands on ground that has been a fortification for probably a thousand years and is now part of English Heritage. It housed the Black Prince, the first Duke of Cornwall, in the 13th century and was recaptured from the Parliamentarians in the Civil War by Sir Richard Grenville in 1644 (the only time the castle saw any military action). From its highest part the River Fowey can be viewed winding through the valley of Lanhydrock to the water meadows leading into Lostwithiel. The old protector of Lostwithiel, the castle ruins are preserved in beautiful, well kept surroundings and are well worth a visit.
(Connoc's Dwelling or. Bo-Con-Oke - Place of Stunted Oaks)
Three miles east of Lostwithiel, Boconnoc can trace its history back to the Normans. The estate and house were taxed in the Domesday Roll in 1086. The first recorded owners were the De Cant family in 1268, and in 1320 - 1386, the Manor was owned by the Carminows. Latterly by Sir Oliver Carminow who married a daughter of Joan Holland (The Fair Maid of Kent), a grand-daughter of Edward I who married the Black Prince as her second husband, for whom the Duchy of Cornwall was created.
Through the centuries, Boconnoc has been associated with many of this country's famous names and history-makers including Lord Russell, Earl of Bedford who sold Boconnoc in 1579 to Sir William Mohun who rebuilt it. Later, Thomas Pitt purchased the estate with the proceeds of the famous Pitt Diamond which he sold to the Regent of France where it ended up in the hilt of Napoleon's sword. Pitt's grandson, William, became Prime Minister. Eventually, the estate was bequeathed to the Fortescue family who still own it although, since 1969 the house has not been lived in due to deterioration and subsidence.
During the Second World War, Boconnoc House and the surrounding buildings were occupied by American troops and the grounds used as an ammunition dump in preparation for the invasion of Europe.In the grounds (actually the largest park in Cornwall) can be seen the church, of which the dedication is unknown, but was thought to have been consecrated in 1413. The most prominent monument is the Obelisk which is 123 feet high and was erected in 1771 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Lord Camelford, in memory of his wife's uncle and benefactor, Sir Richard Lyttelton. It is situated between Boconnoc and Braddock churches in the middle of an old military entrenchment near to where the Battle of Braddock Down was fought in the Civil War 1642-1646. During this period Boconnoc was involved in two significant battles. In January 1643 the Parliament forces under Col. Ruthven impatiently attempted to enter Cornwall, which was strongly Royalist. The opposing forces met near Braddock Church, the Royalists being commanded by Sir Bevil Grenville and Ralph Hopton (both subsequently Knighted) marching from Boconnoc Park where they had bivouacked overnight. In a short time the Parliament forces were routed. A more important clash took place the following year when the King's cause was beginning to wane. Lord Robartes of Lanhydrock (a sour Puritan) had indicated to the Earl of Essex, then commander-in-chief of the Parliament Army, that the Cornish were ready to surrender. Essex marched into the west, to be met by a strong force under Richard Grenville and Lord Goring and found he was pursued from the east by no less a person than the King with an a army of several thousands. The King made his headquarters at Boconnoc and the unfortunate Roundheads were gradually squeezed into Lostwithiel and Fowey, to their ultimate surrender at Castle Dore.
There are approximately 100 head of deer in the Deer Park contained within the grounds and also a garden of 20 acres which is open in the Spring for various charities. Boconnoc House and Park have been used for numerous film locations including the BBC Poldark series and scenes from the 1993 film of The Three Musketeers.
Believed to be a Cornish/Celtic corruption of Broad Oak, the church of St. Mary the Virgin at Bradoc (Braddock today) stands on a high hill amid beautiful green surroundings. The present building is 13th century and stands on the site of a former church of which the Tower and the Norman arch leading into the Tower still remain. The Tower houses five bells, cast in 1845. The font is Norman and has four corner faces and large trees of life. Nearby, at Largin Farm are the trenches used by the Roundheads during the Battle of Braddock Down in the Civil War, whilst nearby, in Largin Wood, is Largin Castle - a camp or fort from the Iron Age. Also, near the village of West Taphouse, are 9 tumuli or barrows in three fields which are said to be the burial places of tribal kings. Braddock church was used for the wedding scene in the filming of Daphne du Maurier's "My Cousin Rachel".
Set in another beautiful river situation, this church stands on what was probably a 7th century Celtic monastery 500 years before the Conquest. It is mentioned in Domesday as San Winnuc and still has some remains of the Norman building. In the 15th century, the aisle and tower were added and the east windows are magnificent examples of glass craft and details much of the dress of the period. St. Winnow church is well known for its bench ends, carved from around 15th to 17th century and still in excellent condition. There is a plaque commemorating 2 parishioners who fought in the Zulu Wars and there are a number of South African connections with the church. Some scenes from the BBC Poldark series were filmed here. Also at St. Winnow can be seen a unique Farm Museum.
A Great Escape Art
Lostwithiel Beer Festival - March.
The Lostwithiel Festival - mid May.
Lost In Gin - June.
Lostwithiel Carnival Week - July.
Sing Along the River - August.
Annual Produce Show - September.
Advent Window Trail - December.
Every New Year's Eve, the town holds a procession to celebrate the start of the New Year. As well as people, the procession includes many large puppets representing giants.
Duchy of Cornwall Nursery & Cafe
White Light Gifts & Tasty Treats
Kings Arms Hotel
The Royal Talbot
The Globe Inn
The Earl of Chatham
The Royal Oak
Bodmin Fowey Golant Liskeard Luxulyan Luxuylan Valley St. Austell Duchy of Cornwall Nursery
Lanreath Folk & Farm Museum Porfell Wildlife Park Lostwithiel Museum St. Winnow Barton Farm Museum
Ethy House and Gardens Lerryn Boconnoc House and Garden Lanhydrock Restormel Castle The Eden Project