LOOE, a seaport and market town in the Bodmin parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, 17 m. by sea W. of Plymouth, a terminus of the Liskeard & Looe light railway.
Pop. (1901) 2548. It is divided by the river into East Looe and West Looe; and is sheltered so completely by the surrounding hills that myrtles, geraniums, fuchsias and other delicate plants nourish at all seasons in the open air. Its lanes are narrow, steep and winding; many of the houses are entered by wooden staircases; and though considerably modernized the town has a medieval air. Inland, the shores of the river are richly wooded; and towards the sea they rise on the south into rugged cliffs. The parish church of St Martin, which stands i m. outside the town, has a Norman doorway and font. Among other buildings may be mentioned the ancient chapel of St Nicholas in West Looe, restored in 1862; and the old town-hall, where the ancient pillory is preserved. A considerable export trade in copper, tin and granite was formerly carried on, and the last is still exported, but the chief trade is in grain; while timber, coal and limestone are imported. There are also thriving fisheries, the Looe fishermen being particularly expert with the seine on a rocky bottom. The inlet of Trelawne is one of the most exquisite wooded coombes in Cornwall. At its head are the remains of a camp, connected with the Giant's Hedge, a raised earthwork which extends for 7 m. in a straight line, as far as a larger camp, on Bury Down, and is of Danish or Saxon construction. Trelawne, a fine old mansion belonging to the family of Trelawny, dates in part from the 15th century, but has been very largely restored.
The harbourage was probably the original cause of settlement at Looe. At the time of the Domesday Survey East Looe was assessed under Pendrym, which was of the king's demesne and West Looe under Hamelin's manor of Trelowia. In the 14th century the former manor was held by the family of Bodrugan; the latter by that of Dauney, who had inherited it from the Treverbyns. In 1237 Henry Bodrugan received the grant of a market on Fridays and a fair at Michaelmas in his manor of Pendrym. In 1301 his grandson and namesake granted to East Looe a market and fair, view of frank pledge, ducking stool and pillory and assize of bread and ale. Otto Bodrugan in 1320 granted the burgesses the privilege of electing their own portreeve and controlling the trade of the town. A charter of incorporation was granted in 1558 under which the common council was to consist of a mayor and 8 chief burgesses. There was to be a court of record, a market on Saturdays and fairs at Michaelmas and Candlemas. In 1685 James II. provided that there should be a mayor and n aldermen, 36 free burgesses, 4 fairs and a court of pie powder. East Looe was governed under this charter until 1885. West Looe (known also as Porpighan or Porbuan) benefited by a charter granted by Richard king of the Romans to Odo Treverbyn and ratified in 1325 constituting it a free borough whose burgesses were to be free of all custom throughout Cornwall. Residence for a year and a day within the borough conferred freedom from servitude. There were to be a market on Wednesdays and a fair at Michaelmas. Hugh son of Odo Treverbyn gave West Looe the privileges enjoyed by Helston and Launceston. Upon the attainder of the earl of Devon in 1539 the borough fell to the crown and was annexed to the duchy. In 1 574 a charter of incorporation was granted, providing for a mayor and 1 1 burgesses, also for a market on Wednesdays and two fairs. West Looe continued to be administered under this charter until 1869, when the death of the mayor deprived the council of its only surviving member and elector. Parliamentary representation was conferred upon East Looe in 1571 and upon West Looe in 1553. In the debate on the reform bill O'Connell stated that there was but one borough more rotten than East Looe and that was West Looe. Looe was second only to Fowey as a port in the i sth century. It furnished 20 ships for the siege of Calais. Of the markets and fairs only the markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a fair on the 6th of May remain.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)