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St Germans - Cornwall

Postal Town: Saltash (PL12)

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St Germans' history dates back to the middle ages of Cornish splendour. It is now home to the Eliot family, the hosts of the annual Lit Fest, and some 2000 villagers from all walks of life, plus a good spirited chap called Dando.

©Shaun Harris

St Germans, history and present-day details

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St Germans is located in South East Cornwall, on the lower reaches of the River Tiddy that flows into the Tamar, out to Plymouth Sound.

The original Saxon church at St Germans was, from 926AD to 1043AD, the Cathedral church of Cornwall until the Norman Conquest, after which most of the church was rebuilt in Norman style in 1261. The west entrance of the church is perhaps the best example of Norman architecture in the UK. Following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century, the Augustinian priory was bought by the Eliot family and was named, Port Eliot. Other important buildings include the 16th century Almhouses located on the north road entrance to the village from the A38.

Many villagers are aware of a spirit known as Dando that haunts Port Eliot estate. Some claim to have seen him. Dando may well have been a medieval Bishop that abused his position to become a huntsman. Aside from this, his more unsavoury delights were copious amounts of wine, food and good company in the form of loose women and drunken parishioners. Dando was rotund with fat, rosy-red cheeks, which matched his lifestyle. It was also what finished him when he was out hunting with friends one stormy day, a stranger came from no-where and satisfied Dando's greed for ale. The stranger then took Dando, his hunted quarry and his hounds with him to hell. Dando's spirited image has been seen on stormy nights.

St Germans was a busy fishing port. 2,800 people lived in the village in the 1840s and there are by comparison only 2000 people now. Right up until WW2, St Germans was a cargo quay for mineral, coal, limestone and timber, ending the era with road stone. Today, St Germans is a fine example of a Cornish village where very little changes. Built mostly of slate, quaint cottages line the one road that runs through the village in a horse-shoe fashion, under the bridge which supports the main-line railway to St Germans and the rest of Cornwall.

The Eliot Arms is a welcoming pub/restaurant and comfortable B&B. St Germans makes for a cosy weekend away from it all and the chance to explore more of Cornwall's delights. The Eliot Estate plays host to its annual Literary Festival (The Lit Fest), which is an extended weekend of creative fun and delights.

©Shaun Harris

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