The ‘Perran’ part of Perranporth derives from St Piran, the Patron Saint of Cornwall. Legend has it that he was washed up on Perranporth beach, having been unceremoniously ejected from Ireland by an Irish King suspicious of his powers. On his arrival he decided to set up an oratory where, the story goes, he found himself preaching Christianity to a congregation consisting of a badger, a fox and a bear. The oratory was swallowed up by the sand from the surrounding dunes, but it was later excavated, then in 1981 it was buried again to preserve the structure. The site is now marked by a memorial stone. Another religious building to succumb to the dunes was the parish church dating from around 1150 and abandoned in 1804. Only the ruined walls remain plus an ancient cross from the 10th century or earlier. St Piran also lends his name to Piran Round, an Iron Age hill camp to the north-east of the village.
Several centuries after St Piran’s arrival, tin and copper mining became the main activity in and around the village. Perhaps this provided inspiration for Winston Graham, the author of the Poldark novels, who wrote the first one while living there. Of course, the mining activity has ceased, but there are still reminders in the form of the remains of engine houses dotted around the landscape. The Perranzabuloe Folk Museum tells the story of the mining industry as well as other aspects of local life (Perranzabuloe means ‘Perran in the sands’). During the Second World War, there was a Spitfire Station at PerranporthAirfield. The control tower has a memorial to the pilots who flew from here, who came from many different countries. Today the airfield has been given over to more leisurely pursuits such as gliding.
Nowadays, Perranporth is a popular small resort where, as well as the sandy beach with caves and interesting rock formations, there is a golf course and a boating lake. Penwartha Coombe is a tranquil oasis just outside the village, with a stream running through it. A walk along the South West Coast Path heading west from Perranporth takes you past Droskyn Point, home to the Perranzabuloe Millennium Sundial. The sundial tells Cornish time, which is 20 minutes ahead of GMT, so best not to set your watch by it.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Rod Allday, via Wikimedia Commons|