Mevagissey is an ancient fishing village nestled on Cornwall’s south coast, famed for its tranquility and slow-paced charm. The merging of outstanding natural beauty and a characteristically Cornish village make for a location popular with those seeking peace. The steep winding alleys and historic buildings are remnants of a time when smuggling was rife, and the great grandchildren of pilchard fisherman still moor their boats in the same sheltered harbour.
There is evidence of the passing of time; artists have set up in the area, among others with an appreciation for Mevagissey and the unique lifestyle it caters for. There are also numerous attractions which cater for all ages and allow you to explore and enjoy the cultural, historical and natural assets of Mevagissey, from a position of comfortable modernity. This website contains all the information you need for an enjoyable stay.
The history of Mevagissey as a significant human inhabitation begins long before the location had a name we would recognise. Settlers who had travelled West across the Mediterranean from north-western Italy found favour in a valley about 1100 years ago at around, and decided to occupy the area. Marseilles, a Greek merchant, explored Cornwall in the late Bronze Age and described the inhabitants as skilled wheat farmers, usually peaceable, but formidable in war when they used horse-drawn chariots. He also described the Cornish trade in tin with the Mediterranean. The traces of the Bronze Age around Mevagissey are sparse, but their burial mounds can still be seen on the cliffs to the south of the village, and the hill fort ruins on Camp Hill remind us of their presence at this time. There was access by road to the Bronze Age port of Percuil, and when the Roman’s arrived at approximately the time of Jesus, they established a fort called Colonia using the old Bronze Age tracks.
“Ye men of Porthhilly, why were ye so silly
In having so little power
You sold every bell, as Gorran men tell
For money to pull down your tower”
In 1775 there was a successful application for a new harbour, and in 1866 it was enlarged. Around this time there was a Cholera outbreak which killed many locals. People moved out of Mevagissey in this time to a places with cleaner water sources. The problem was solved in part because the locals enjoyed tea (and thus boiled their water).
Over the nineteenth century the fishing industry changed. Drift fishing was found to be more effective, and pilchards were caught in great numbers. It is thought that this over-fishing may have been part of the reason for the decimated pilchard stocks.
In 1914-18 German boats came in close in to torpedo merchantmen and sometimes fishermen. In both World Wars, fit young men left to fight leaving only boys and old men to fish, damaging industry.
Things to do in Mevagiseey Cornwall
Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Mevagissey each year. A village that once relied mostly on fish and smuggled goods now generates much of its income from the tourism industry. As such, there are a great deal of interesting things to do when you have finished your ice cream (or a sea gull has finished it for you). From exploring a rejuvenated stately garden to deep sea fishing for sharks, Mevagissey is in close proximity to a variety of activities and notable sites.
The lost Gardens of Heligans
Twenty-nine years ago, Heligan’s historic gardens were unknown and unseen; lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of WW1. It was only the chance discovery of a door in the ruins that led to the restoration of this once great estate. Today, The Lost Gardens have been put back where they belong: in pride of place among the finest gardens in England. Heligan is one of the most mysterious estates in England. Lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of WW1, this Sleeping Beauty was re-awakened in 1990 to become Europe’s largest garden restoration project. Today Heligan’s 200 acres are a paradise for the explorer, wildlife, plant lover and garden romantic.
In 2008 The Lost Gardens of Heligan was granted National Collection Holder status by Plant Heritage for its historic and unique National Collection: Camellias and Rhododendrons Introduced to Heligan pre-1920. There are more than 70 veteran camellias and 350 ancient rhododendrons included in the collection, which are found throughout Heligan. The earliest plantings date from around 1850. During the period of decline in the gardens and estate, many plants, both wild and cultivated, flourished unrestrained. The specimens of Heligan’s National Collection were given both time and the protection of surrounding overgrowth to mature into the magnificent specimens, which can be marvelled at today. The rhododendrons and camellias of the National Collection are valuable living links to the horticultural past of the gardens and estate and play an integral role in the diverse and beautiful landscape. Whether they are forming stunning backdrops to walled gardens, rambling gracefully above paths, taking centre stage, or standing stately amid flourishing plantings, the breathtaking beauty of these ancient specimens is awe-inspiring to behold.
Field in the Garden's Estate
Malayisian House inside the Eden Project
18 minutes from Mevagissey lies a castle set within the rolling hills and gardens of a beautiful estate. When you visit the castle, you can also spend some time on Caehayes (pronounced Car-hays) beach, where there is sometimes good surf.