Much photographed picturesque fishing village
The fishing village of Mevagissey is the very essence of a Cornwall which has remained true to its roots and embraced change only slowly.
The name belongs to 6th century Irish missionaries. Mevagissey's labyrinth of tiny streets twist and turn past ancient dwarf buildings of cob and slate but inexorably for the twin harbours which are its nerve centre, a place to watch the fisherman land their catch and mend their nets as they have since John Trewollas built the first pier in 1430, it was rebuilt in 1774 and an outer harbour was added in 1888, but seriously damaged in a blizzard in 1891.
The Norman church is dedicated to St. Meva and Ida. The church is cruciform and some Norman work remains but the church was more or less rebuilt in the 15th century.
By the 19th century, the most important catch was pilchard, some 40 million a year of which were salted in special cellars you can still see and packed into barrels for export to France and Italy.
The RNLI stationed a lifeboat at Port Mellon in 1869 but in 1888 moved it to Mevagissey. It was kept afloat in the harbour for a few years but in 1896 was moved into a purpose-built concrete boat house. The following year a new boat, the James Chisholm, was installed. This operated until 1930 when the station was closed.
Earlier still, some of the crew doubled as smugglers or privateers, but today their secondary role is to introduce visitors to inshore fishing for mackerel or deep-sea shark-hunts. The full range of fish in local waters can be seen at the Aquarium, converted from the old lifeboat house.
Mevagissey Museum which is full of local exhibits is housed in an old boat-building yard.
Mevagissey had a power station built in 1895, powered by pilchard oil, which provided electricity for the lighthouse and surrounding streets.
Mevagissey is home to three Cornish holy wells. The Brass Well and Lady's Well are both situated in the manor of Treleaven, the other holy well is within the gardens of Mevagissey House, the old vicarage.
Mevagissey is renowned for the soaring switchback walks along The Coastal Footpath that whet the appetite for its seafood or help to walk it off. From Polkirt Hill you can look out over the Medieval street plan, the fishing boats in the harbour and the yachts in the pool, to the golden sweep of Polstreath Beach and St. Austell Bay or south to the inlet that shelters Portmellon Beach and to the scenic coast path over Chapel Point to Gorran Haven.
Andrew Pears who invented the eponymous transparent soap lived here from 1789.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at St. Georges Square, Tel: (01726) 844857.
The Ship Inn
The Fountain Inn
The Kings Arms
Mevagissey Museum Pentewan Bosue Vineyard Polmassick Vineyard St. Austell Mevagissey Aquarium
Gorran Haven Mevagissey Model Railway The Coastal Footpath The Lost Gardens of Heligan The Roseland Peninsula