PADSTOW, a small seaport and market town in the St Austell parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, on a branch of the London & South Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 1566. It hes near the north coast, on the west shore, and 2 m. from the mouth of the estuary of the river Camel, a picturesque inlet which from Padstow Bay penetrates 6 m. into the land. The church of St Petrock, with a massive roodstone in the churchyard, is mainly Perpendicular, with an Early EngUsh tower. Within are an ancient font, a canopied piscina, and a fine timber roof over the nave and aisles. Other interesting churches in the locaUty are those of St Petrock Minor, St Minver, St Michael, St Constantine, and, most remarkable of all, St Enodock's. This building, erected in the 15th century amid the barren dunes bordering the east shore of the estuary near its mouth, in place of a more ancient oratory, was long buried beneath drifts of sand. From a httle distance only the weather-beaten spire can be seen. A Norman font remains from the older foundation. A monastery formerly stood on the high ground west of Padstow, and according to tradition was founded by St Petrock in the 6th and razed by the Danes in the 10th century. Its site is occupied by Prideaux Place, an Elizabethan mansion, which contains among other valuable pictures Van Dyck's portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria. Pentine Point shelters Padstow Bay on the north-east, but the approach to the estuary is dangerous during north-westerly gales. Padstow, nevertheless, is a valuable harbour of refuge, although the river channel is narrow and much silted. Dredging, however, is prosecuted, the sand being sent inland, being useful as a manure through the carbonate of lime with which it is impregnated. The Padstow Harbour Association (1829) is devoted to the rescue of ships in distress, making no claims for salvage beyond the sums necessary for its maintenance. Padstow has fisheries and shipyards and some agricultural trade.
Padstow (Aldestowe 1273, Patrikstowe 1326, Patrestowe 1346) and St Ives are the only two tolerably safe harbours on the north coast of Cornwall. To this circumstance they both owed their selection for early settlement. St Petrock, who has been called the patron saint of Cornwall, is said to have landed here and also to have died here in the 6th century. At the time of the Domesday survey Bodmin, which treasured the saint's remains, had become the chief centre of religious influence. Padstow is not mentioned in that record. It was included in the bishop of Exeter's manor of Pawton, which had been annexed to the see of Crediton upon its formation by Edward the Elder in 909. Padstow was plundered by the Danes in 981. Until then it is said to have possessed a monastery, which thereupon was transferred to Bodmin. Two manors of Padstow are mentioned later - the prior of Bodmin's manor, which included the rectory, and a manor which passed from the Bonvilles to the Greys, marquesses of Dorset, both of which were eventually acquired by the family of Prideaux. From the letters patent addressed to the baihfTs of Padstow demanding the survey and delivery of ships for foreign service, the appointment of a king's butler for the port, and the frequent recourse which was had to the king's courts for the settlement of disputes of shipping, Padstow appears to have been a port of considerable repute in the 14th century. Its affairs were entrusted to a reeve or baihff acting in conjunction with the principal men of the town. In 1540 Leland, without sufficient reason, credits Athelstan with the bestowal of such privileges as it then enjoyed, and describes it as a parish full of fishermen and Irishmen. Forty years later Norden describes it as an incorporation and market town. Carew in 1602 states that it had lately purchased a corporation and derived great profit from its trade with Ireland. Some steps towards incorporation were doubtless taken, but it is remarkable that no traces of its municipal character are discoverable in any subsequent records. A prescriptive market is held on Saturdays; two fairs of like nature have disappeared.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)