Old boat building village at the mouth of a beautiful estuary

Web: www.facebook.com/polruan

Lanteglos Parish Council


A very 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. Saviour's ruin stands today. The present St. Saviour's church is lower down the hill in Fore Street. The main 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. 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 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. 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 fifteen 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 Bodinnick Ferry or via Lostwithiel, a forty minute journey. The population of the village was 614 in the 2011 Census.

The film 'Stolen Hours' featuring Susan Hayward was filmed around Polruan. The latter part of the film follows an actress who comes to Polruan to live out the remainder of her life, following a brain tumour, with her surgeon husband. The 1963 film displays older shots of the village including use of the village shop, "Headland House", and the clip of the children's sports day which is filmed where Greenbank is now built.

Overlooking the village is the National Coastwatch Institution lookout, giving amazing views up and down the coast.

The Blockhouse
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 in 1380 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. Saviour's Chapel
Standing high on the hill overlooking Polruan, St. Saviour's 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. Saviour's was enlarged by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in 1488. After 1572 St Saviour's Chapel fell into disrepair following the dissolution of the monasteries. The Chapel is now an ancient monument, belonging to the people of Polruan, and preserved as an open space by the Town Trust.

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!

Brazen Island
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 1928/9, (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 the house.

A unique and pleasant way to enter or leave Fowey, is to take the Bodinnick vehicle ferry and cross the river. Bodinnick is on the east side of the river, and, a short steep climb up through the village beyond 'The Old 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.

A small hamlet named from the family 'Michelstowe' and corrupted to Mixtow and, the site of Kit's House, mentioned in 'Q's "Astonishing History of Troy Town". This part of the river still has deep water but is completely sheltered from the prevailing winter weather and is a favourite spot for yachts escaping the gales which affect the lower harbour.

St. Cadix - Penpoll Creek
An old Benedictine priory from the 12th century or earlier, set back from the main creek by a separate spur of water called St. Cyric's. After dissolution in 1539 it was rented to a Bernard or Burcot Cranach, a German entrepreneur responsible for converting the 14th century flour mill at Lerryn as a smelting house for silver. The present building dates from around 1710. It is today owned by the Trevelyan family. Many swans inhabit this part of the Fowey River and Penpoll Creek is an exquisite backwater ending up in Middle Penpoll.

The Old Watch Tower, Pencarrow Head
A small summerhouse, known as the Old Watch Tower was built by the Grenville's in 1809 below the cliffs east of Pencarrow Head. It is said to have been placed here as a marker to warn sailors of the dangers of approaching too close to the rocks. Overlooking the wild, remote and infamous smuggling coves of Lansallos Bay it may well have served many other purposes as well.

Notable Residents

Calvin Dean (1985-), the actor from the film Tormented grew up in Polruan.

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) once lived in the village.

Patrick Malahide (1945-), Actor who amongst other roles, played Inspector Chisholm in the popular television series Minder was also another Polruan resident.

Peter Skellern (1947-2017) the singer who was once resident in the village, died here.


Polruan Regatta - End of August.


Cafes in Polruan


Pubs in Polruan

Fowey       Polperro       Headland Garden       Lerryn       Lostwithiel       Polruan Blockhouse

The Hall Walk       The Coastal Footpath       Cornwall's Ferrys