History of the Parish
The Parish of Feock is situated in South Cornwall in the Deanery and Hundred of Powder. It was possibly named after a saint called Saint Fioc or Feoca, but very little is known about him or her. To the north lies the parish of Kea, to the south, Restronguet Creek and the Carnon River, to the east Carrick Roads and the River Fal and to the west, the parish of Perranarworthal. Within its bounds lies ample evidence of settlement as far back as 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.
The prosperity of Cornwall as a whole in more recent centuries has come mainly from its mineral wealth but settlements in our parish, from some of the oldest remaining documentary evidence, are mainly noted as agricultural in nature.
Although the parish has never been one of the great mining parishes of the County, there is some evidence of tin streaming along the banks of its rivers, which existed between Carnon Gate and Tallack's Creek from the late 18th century to 1812. This enterprise was one of the biggest and most profitable in Cornwall. The tidal reaches of the Fal estuary gave excellent credentials for the development of a major 19th century port at Devoran and along the river bank to Point, built mainly to serve the mining industry.
A mineral railway link was opened in 1826 and was a main artery for the great mining parishes of Gwennap and others further inland for more than eighty years, bringing ore down the line and carrying men and equipment back up. The main initial financiers of this project were the Agar-Robartes family of Lanhydrock whose agent, William Jenkin had noted the potential of a port of Devoran as far back as 1790. A large smelting works was opened at Point in 1827, although this had closed by 1880. But the tin smelting works set up at Penpol in 1870 survived until 1921.
Other local landowning families such as the Lemon family of Carclew just across the river in Mylor parish and the Fox and Williams families from nearby Perranarworthal parish, who had recently opened their foundry business there, also took a great interest in the development of the port.
The River Fal
Also within the bounds of the parish is the King Harry Ferry, one of only five remaining chain operated ferries in England. This part of the river has been used as a crossing point for many centuries but the current ferry operation dates from 1889 when a company was formed which leased land from Mr. Davies-Gilbert of nearby Trelissick House and ran a steam powered ferry across this quite narrow but very deep stretch of the River Fal.
The current ferry is the seventh and largest to operate the route, taking passengers to and from the Roseland Peninsula in just a few minutes, saving some twenty miles on the road trip.
There was also a rowing-boat ferry service from Restronguet Point to the Passage House Inn (now known as the Pandora Inn). This ferry service survived until the 1950's, but this route was used as far back as 1411 as way of getting from Falmouth and Penryn to Truro via the Restronguet Passage.
Historically, Feock has relied on its river and sea links for a living and census records support this fact. In 1881, for example there were over twenty men listed on the census who were resident within the parish and who showed Master Mariner as their occupation.
With thanks to Bob Richards and Bob Acton for their research into the history of the parish.
Quays and ports
However, in the years before the development of Devoran as a port, Roundwood Quay, Pill Creek, both situated in Feock village, and Daniell's Quay at Point were all important to the copper mines as ports for the export of copper ore to South Wales for smelting, and also for the import of coal.
The route of the former mineral railway is now managed by Cornwall Council as a leisure route for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. Its route crosses Cornwall from Portreath on the north coast to Devoran and beyond on the south coast.
Other historic industries locally include fishing and boatbuilding. Fishing for Oysters in the River Fal is an age old tradition which is still followed by successive generations of several Feock parish families. Boat building yards were also plentiful along the boundaries of the parish in the days of sail and some are still active today with a particular emphasis these days on leisure craft including Cornish Pilot Gigs whose crews race enthusiastically in local waters throughout the summer season. There are also regattas at Penpol and Point and Devoran and a thriving sailing school at Loe Beach.
The religious needs of the local community have always been served. We have a Parish Church in Feock village dating from around 1264 which was enlarged and improved in the 1840's. There is a newer Parish Church at Devoran dating from 1877, built to accommodate an ever increasing population and designed by John Loughborough Pearson who went on to design the new Cathedral in Truro a few years later.
There are also several Methodist Chapels within the parish, Methodism being brought to the area in its earliest days by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles; and a thatched Quaker Meeting House at Come to Good. The Fox family were among the most prominent members of the Quaker Faith in this area and generations of this family had large and varied business interests in the parish and beyond.
The parish has evolved to include the villages of Carnon Downs, Devoran, Feock, Point and Penpol. Unfortunately, the only existing village shop and post office for the whole of the parish is in Carnon Downs.
However, there are other thriving businesses in the parish; Carnon Downs Garden Centre, the Carnon Inn, Carnon Downs Camping and Caravan Park, Devoran Metals and Penpol Boatyard. There is a public house in the village of Devoran called The Old Quay Inn.
There was a primary school in Feock until 1983 and the primary school at Devoran moved to a new modern school site in 2007, the Parish Council Offices are now housed in the old school site in Devoran in Market Street.