CORNWALL ONLINE PARISH CLERKS - helping bring the past alive

The parish of


(created 1849)

The Parish Church of St Mary's at Biscovey

General View




South Aisle

War Memorial Plaque
© John Evans
Click thumbnails to enlarge

The parish of Par has existed since 1849, when it was created by consolidation of portions of Tywardreath and St. Blazey parishes.
At the time of the Doomsday Book, it was part of the territory owned and controlled by the Tywardreath Priory – which owned a very large area of land. But by the 1300s, the parishes of St. Blazey and St. Austell had developed out of this territory. Both were considered "daughters" of Tywardreath.
Much of the current-day parish of Par was created by the deposit of soil and mine tailings carried by the Par river to its outlet on the English Channel. Historically, the parish has been divided by the river, and the river shaped it’s nature. Up to the 1700’s, St. Blazey was considered a seaport, and sea-going schooners berthed there under the wall that now fronts the parish church. But as mining increased, more tailings were deposited in t he stream, the land formed - and St. Blazey became land-locked. The area of deposit became known as Par Sands.

The centre of the village is Par Green on the eastern shore of the river but there are several properties on the west side of the river spreading up Par Lane and on toward Middle Way and St Blazey.
Joseph Thomas Austen, later Treffry, an engineer and entrepreneur, purchased the ferry operating across the river in 1824 and then replaced it with a bridge in 1826. By 1840, on the western side of the river, he had created state-of-the-art port facilities including facilities for ship building, a foundry and a smelter, the stack for which became a navigational aide for mariners until 1909 when it was pulled down. Due to the development of Fowey Consols mines and to the construction and maintenance requirements of the port, during the early 1800s, the population increased considerably. In St. Blazey it was reported as being 467 in 1801, and 3,570 by 1840.
Initially, cargoes were principally to and from Austen's mines and quarries above St Blazey and Tywardreath; later further mines and china clay dries were opened on Par Moors adjacent to the harbour.
In 1858, 15,154 tons of china clay were shipped out of Par. However, the new harbour was tidal with a maximum depth at high water of only 16 feet and it was becoming increasingly expensive to operate due to the need for regular dredging caused by continued silting from the river. Fowey, just around the promontory, whilst also tidal, was a deep water port with access for a longer period. As the railways were extended in the area, more of the copper and tin ores and china clay for export where sent to Fowey in preference to Par.
Up until 2002, Par was still busily handling thousands of tons of china clay shipments, as well as other mineral products. But in 2006, after the company operating the port was sold, plans to greatly reduce the operations of the port were announced.
Treffry also built the Par Canal to serve the harbour from Ponts Mill in St Blazey, also utilising the water in concert with a new breakwater, for purposes such as controlling sedimentation. Tramways also linked Fowey Consols mine and Carbean quarry to the port via the Treffry Viaduct.
The parish church of St. Mary’s at Biscovey serves the area, as does a later Anglican church, that dedicated to the Good Shepherd. There is a Methodist chapel in the village standing beside the railway arch at the end of Par Green. Burials have for many years been held at the local cemeteries in Tywardreath, St Blazey, Charlestown and even St Austell.

Cornwall Online Parish Clerks

The Online Parish Clerk (Genealogy) for Par is Julia Mosman, who can be contacted by Email.

For information about (and contact details for) the current parish council, please see this website.

Please visit the St. Austell District website, which is updated frequently.



Information can be found at COCP (Cornwall Online Census Project) which is complete for 1841 to 1891 and has been verified, FreeCen at Rootsweb, which has a very good search engine and information from COCP, as well as GenUKI, which has more reference information and alternate resources.


Transcriptions of Parish Registers are in our online searchable database (C-PROP) which is updated frequently. The parish coverage page is here.

Burial, marriage, and baptismal records (1849-1900) in spreadsheet form for Par have been put on the St. Austell District website, as have St. Blazey marriages (1813-1837) and an index which links to the LDS FamilySearch website for St. Blazey burials and baptisms. More records from St. Blazey and and all of Tywardreath will be added as they become available.


Entries from various Directories 1793 to 1856 are available on the St Austell District website. For for further information, visit the University of Leicester's Historical Directories website.


Also on the St. Austell District website are newspaper references from 1836-1856, a history of the area written in 1856 and photographs of the area.

Photographs & Maps:

Many photographs are held by the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum (and copies by the China Clay History Society), not only those related to that industry. John Evans has offered to search them for any of specific families and locations, and electronic copies would be supplied free of charge. Two examples are given below (click thumbnails to enlarge).

A large number of old O.S. Maps of many areas of Cornwall (various scales) are also available, the index is here. For the maps, please keep to the Crown Copyright as explained on the Ordnance Survey website.

  Par 1892
Broad Gauge Railway, Treffry's Lead Smelter,
Brickworks & Tregaskes' Shipyard
Par Harbour,
Loco Punch collision with Car reg. AF6587
© Wheal Martyn & China Clay History Society

For further resources see GenUKI.


For a zoomable and printable map of Cornwall please visit Cornwall Council’s mapping website. To see the Parish boundaries, click on the Layers Tab for Government Boundaries.

For maps and satellite images use Google Maps.

To enjoy a "walk" around this parish, search for Par at, then drag the person icon from above the zoom commands and place it at a specific location on the map.

Par Sands, © 2004, Charles Winpenny