Mullion Island and Cove
Mullion Island and Cove

History of Mullion

Mullion extract from Magna Britannia Vol 3 Cornwall by Daniel Lysons 1814

MULLION, in the deanery and in the west division of the hundred of Kirrier, lies about fix miles nearly south of Helston, which is the post-office town: besides the church-town, it contains the small village of Pradannack-Wartha.

The manor of Pradannack, or, as it is called in old records, Predannek, belonged formerly to the family of Serjeaux, one of whose coheiresses brought it to the Veres, Earls of Oxford. In the reign of James I., Sir Richard Robartes was seised of the manors of Pradannack-Wartha and Pradannack-Wollas”: the former now belongs to the Honourable Mrs. Agar, as representative of the Robartes family; the latter to the Rev. Sir Carew Vyvyan, Bart. The manor of Clahar, in this parish, belongs to Lord Viscount Falmouth.

The great tithes of Mullion are appropriated to the college of vicars-choral at Exeter: the Bishop is patron of the vicarage. At Clahar is the fite of an ancient chapel, belonging to the Honourable Mrs. Agar.

Introduction to Mullyon, Its History, Scenery and Antiquities by E. G. Harvey 1875

The Parish of Mullyon, lying in Meneag, in the Archdeaconry of Cornwall, and in the Deanery and Hundred of Kirrier, is bounded on the North by Cury and Gunwalloe, on the East by Ruan Major and Grade, on the South by Landewednack, and on the West by the Sea. It covers 4,786 acres of land, of which 1,700 are arable, 1,200 pasture, and the rest commons, crofts, and public roads.

The gross estimated rental is £3,475, the rateable value .£3,086; and the population, by the the census of 1871, numbered 695.

The tithes are commuted at £535, of which £225 are vicarial, and £310 impropriated.

The patronage of the living is in the Bishop of Exeter.

In the valuation of Pope Nicholas, which was made during the reign of Edward the First, in the years 1288 to 1291, appears the following:


Decanatus de Kere (Kirrier).

Taxacio. Dccim.

Ecclia Sci Mellani £8 00 84

In the Valor Ecclesiasticus, temp. Henry VIII., it is entered as Melyan, and in legal documents, temp. Elizabeth, as Mullyan.

S. Mellion, in the East of Cornwall, is also spoken of as S. Mellanus.

The name is variously given in our parish register as St. Mullyon, Mullyon, S. Mullian, Mullian, Mullyan, Mulion, St. Mullion, and Mullion. In the registry, at Exeter, it is now given as Mullyon ; hence I, as "Vicar of Mullyon," have adopted this form.

S. Mellonus is called S. Malo by Usher; and Dr. Oliver decides that Mellonus, Malo and Meen are identical, and seeing that we have S. Malo's Moor in the parish to this day, I would rather suppose that S. Malo, a Briton by birth, gave the name to this parish, than go out of my way to seek, as some have done, in the Persian language, for a word resembling 'Mullyon,' and meaning 'smooth,'—particularly as there is nothing smooth about us either by sea or on land—than trace it to the plant 'Mullen,' which really grows in much greater abundance in the surrounding parishes than with us, or, than place myself under the patronage of St. Melanie or Melina, an obscure saint in the Roman calendar, who lived principally in Rome, Carthage, and Jerusalem, and who never, as far as is known, attempted a visit to these shores.

But more of this by-and-bye, when I come to speak of the church and its dedication.

Excepting what is ecclesiastical, the history of Mullyon is somewhat scanty. There is evidence of the Manor of Predannack being held by the family of Serjeaux.* Richard, of that ilk, M.P. for the county of Cornwall, in the time of Richard the Second, possessed it, and he dying without issue, it fell to his sisters as co-heiresses. The youngest of the three carried it in marriage to Vere, Earl of Oxford. Sir Richard Robartes was seized of the manor of Predannack Wartha, and Predannack Wollas, in the 17th James the First, 1619. Part of the latter now belongs to Sir R. R. Vyvyan, Bart., but the rest of the manor is the property of Lord Robartes. From the Calendars of Proceedings in Chancery, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth we abstract the following: "John Hodge, alias Richards, plaintiff, Robert Richards and Stephen John, defendants, concerning a tenement called Trenant (Trenance), in the parish of Mullyan, the inheritance of Richard Boscawen, and by him devised to Richard Hodge alias Richards, plaintiff's father." Vol. n, p. 45. H.h. 16.

Trenance is now in the possession of Lord Robartes.

Again, "Michael Tresagher, alias Tresaugher, generosus, and Anna, his wife, sold lands in Vounder, Trewoone, and the Church Town of Mullyon, all in this parish, to William Peres, alias Pryske." 25 Eliz., 1582.

Vounder now belongs to Viscount Falmouth. Indeed, Lord Robartes and Viscount Falmouth are the principal land owners of the parish, smaller portions belonging respectively to Sir R R. Vyvyan, C. H. Hawkins, Esq., Messrs. J. B. Kempthorne, and Peter Williams.

As regards the soil the greater part of the parish rests on a bed of serpentine, and strangers are wont to form large ideas of the vastness of our riches when we tell them that we not only build our houses, but' even pave our roads with serpentine, but northward of a line drawn from the centre of Polurrian Cove to Clahar Garden, the slate formation presents itself, which may be traced northward along the coast till it meets the granite spur of Tregoning Hill, at Trewavas Cliffs. There are two patches of hornblende, also, one extending from Polurrian Cove, near which are traces of ochre and iron-stone, to Porthmellin and the stream that runs into it, being separated from the slate at the former place by a well marked vein of conglomerate, and extending inland to the neighbourhood of Church Town. Another mass of hornblende will be found between Predannack and the sea. Then there is the Soap Rock (so called from its being unctuous to the touch) in the valley of Gue Greze traversing the serpentine in large veins. Particulars of the raising of this peculiar formation is given below.

"Native," or pure malleable copper has from time to time been found in large lumps or veins in the interstices of the serpentinic rock, mostly in the valley just north of Predannack Wartha where mining was once carried on at a great cost. One mass of native copper was sent from this to the Exhibition of 1851, weighing 15 cwt. "The metal bore the appearance of having been poured in a melted state into the crevices of the rocks, it was for the most part flattened, and branched at the edges; it had the lustre of a new copper coin, and had here and there adhering to its side portions of steatite of a beautiful grass green." The cost of boring the solid serpentine was not however defrayed by the occasional "find" of a beautiful branched and glistening tree of bright and lustrous copper, and the mining operations were necessarily given up.

The principal crops raised in Mullyon are wheat, barley, oats, turnips and mangolds. These last do so remarkably well that it is almost a wonder that some speculative genius is not tempted to grow beet for the sugar manufacture. As in West Cornwall generally all kinds of vegetables are early, while the harvests are late and " catchy."

The lobster and crab fisheries in the spring, and the pilchard seine fishery in the autumn, give employment to a large number of the inhabitants.

Antiquities of the Parish of Mullion recorded in 1875 by E. G. Harvey

On what is now called Clahar Garden estate, one of the farms belonging to Lord Robartes, the name of which would probably be more correctly rendered Claiar Cairn, or Cleyar Carn, a Barrow, thirty-six feet in diameter, was removed some time ago, for the purpose of agriculture, in which, surrounded by an outer circle of stones, four urns were discovered, varying from a foot to four inches in height. One of these urns, which were all of a coarse make, and ruddy brown hue, contained ashes, while a quantity of ashes were also found scattered in the vicinity of the other three. A number of flints were also dug up at the same spot. There is a plan of the cairn and also a good engraving of the urns given in Mr. Borlase's "Nasnia Cornubiae," p. 223, et seq.

At Angrouse, Mr. Peter Williams, the proprietor, has of late reclaimed and brought under cultivation a considerable portion of the " Morrops," i.e., croft and pasture land on the edge of the cliffs. While this was being effected the workmen came upon a pile of stones, thirty-five feet in diameter, and between three and four feet high. The centre of this pile was considerably lower than its outer edge, and near the western part of this, covered with layers of flat stones, was found a pit about four feet by two, and two feet deep, cut in the solid rock. Herein were discovered a number of calcined bones, the remains of an urn, of which some portions bore the marks of fire; a bronze dagger, about 6^ inches in length, with three pivots; and a globular bit of mundic, about 1.5 inches in diameter. It has been supposed that this last was used as a " strike-a-light" for the funeral pyre.

Another tumulus was afterwards opened on this estate, also on the cliff, and about 400 yards from the former. This, however, was entirely of earth, about thirty feet across and four feet high. In the centre, under a thin flat stone, was found an urn, with its mouth upwards, and filled with ashes and burnt human bones.

On Predannack Downs a third mound has lately been searched. On the nth of November, 1871, the present writer formed one of a party in its exploration. It is situated at the entrance from the Downs to Hervan Lane on its southern side. "The Tumulus, in this instance," I quote "Naenia Cornubiae," p. 240, "was about four feet in height, and had a diameter of forty two feet . It was surrounded by a ring of stones set on edge, but otherwise was entirely composed of earth. At a depth of scarcely three feet, in the exact centre, the pickaxe struck into a substance much harder than the rest of the mound. This turned out to be a bed of white clay common to the country around, which had been artificially heaped up as a protection to a quantity of calcined bones and ashes. This deposit on being uncovered presented a most curious appearance. There being no covering stone the fibres and roots from the surface had found their way to the bones. These had been originally contained in a small urn, but the roots had caused them to expand and to burst this vessel. The conglomerate when removed measured about nine inches in thickness, by one foot six inches in diameter; it had much the appearance, and quite the consistency of hard Cavendish tobacco; and round the edges of the mass were found adhering the small broken fragments of the vessel, which to the otherwise unprotected ashes had served the purpose of a kist. The urn must have been of the cylindrical shape, about seven inches high. It was carelessly baked, but ornamented with the chevron pattern."

Later in the same day we visited two other tumuli, on the rising ground to the northward, across Hayl Kymbro, but found they had been already opened and their contents removed. The small stones of which these mounds are formed still shew the effects of the action of fire. Near these tumuli, in a N.W. direction, are many remains of robins still plainly visible.


This ancient monument is to be found near the village of Predannack Wartha, in the south corner of a field, through which the church path runs to Mullyon. Itself, a block of granite, it stands on a pedestal a foot in thickness, and four feet by three feet two inches "oblong square." The shaft of the cross is ten inches thick, and one foot, two inches, broad; the diameter of its circular head being two feet across. The height from pedestal to the top is five feet four inches. A broad raised Cross, with ends expanded, is shewn on the Western face, and on the reverse a narrow incised one appears, surrounded by an incised circle.

In the year 1852 it was found that accident or wanton hands had removed the cross from its socket, and it was discovered, lying face downward, in a neighbouring ditch. Thereupon, some good people, unwilling that the sacred symbol should long lie thus neglected, formed a party of volunteers, who, furnished with ropes and levers, proceed to the spot, and with a hearty yet reverent good-will, hauled out the ancient relic from its ignominious position, and once more set it upright in its former place, firmly securing it in its socket with metal wedges.


This once stood in what is now the farm yard of the manor. There is no record of its dimensions, and the remains of a benatura and some pieces of window mullion, are hardly sufficient to fix its date. Within a few yards is a plot of ground called Jarine (dzharn, a garden), now an orchard, which was formerly a burial ground, and there is a legend connected with it which would have suited the pages of Sir Henry Spelman, in his "History and Fate of Sacrilege." It is said, and commonly believed, that if ever the ground in this enclosure is disturbed, some member of the occupants of the estate dies before the year is out. As a fact, it was last broken in the year 1820, and the same year a Mullyon man was murdered on his way home from Helston. Long ago, and yet, perhaps, within a century, three men, who were lepers, escaping shipwreck, found their way to Predannack; two of them died of disease and exposure, and were buried in one corner of Jarine. The other recovered, having taken care, it is said, always to sleep among the sheep.

A curious little relic, whether connected in any way with the old chapel it is impossible to say, was picked up in the Morryps, by Mr. John Thomas, the present occupier of Predannack. One day, in 1871, as he was taking shelter under a- large rock from a passing shower, his eye lighted on a bit of metal at his feet, and on taking it up he discovered it to be a small signet or seal of bronze, bearing in its centre the monogram, I.h.c, surmounted by a cross, having a bifurcated base, and the legend running round it—Vangies Toi— "Jesus avenge thee."


There is a tradition which points to an old chapel that once stood in the valley leading down to Porthmellin, just below the present farm house at Trenance Veor, but there are now no remains of it to be found, and its very site is almost forgotten. The spiritual needs of the people of Mullyon must have been well looked after at one time with these three chapels, besides the parish church, that is if all, as is possible, existed together. And there was then but one form of religion. The reflection can hardly be avoided: how sad it is that Church and Preaching House are not at one in worship now in this dear old Cornish land of ours. The frequenters and upholders of both Church and Preaching House surely mean the same thing—to live a Godly and a christian life, to speak the truth in love, to discountenance sin and lawlessness at all hazards, and, if needs be, patiently suffer for the truth's sake. Until such a happy state shall again be realised, our boasted motto " One and all" must be a reproach to us rather than a ground of boasting.



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Harbour at Mullion Cove
Harbour at Mullion Cove

Mullion Harbour
Mullion Harbour

Mullion Parish Church
Mullion Parish Church

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Mullion Cove Harbour

Cannon above Mullion Cove
Cannon above Mullion Cove


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