University of Exeter logo University of Exeter logo

Cornwall's Maritime Churches

Toggle navigation Open menu Toggle navigation Open menu


The case studies are part of an endangered and re-emerging subject area. This research forms part of a wider field of multi and interdisciplinary work examining and challenging issues of overlooked and neglected churches across Cornwall and the romanticising of Cornish authentic history.

By exploring attitudes towards Maritime Churches in the past and the roles they played within sea-faring narratives, the origins and trajectories of contemporary ‘romanticism of Cornish heritage’ can be used to stimulate dialogue and research into Cornish Maritime Churches in the present.

Despite church narratives being promoted in guidebooks and travel literature, their unique maritime connections seem lost.

Why do we need this project?

Never before has maritime history been explored from the church. We redefine and celebrate these two fields of history together, starting in Cornwall.

Cornwall’s Maritime Churches Project is a community engagement project exploring the physical seafaring history of Cornish churches across multiple locations.

18th century pirates on shore

Cornish pirates exploited both their knowledge of the Cornish coast as well as its sheltered creeks and hidden anchorages. For many fishing villages, loot and contraband provided by pirates supported a strong and secretive underground economy in Cornwall.

So much of Cornwall’s literary image is derived from tales of seafaring pirates and smugglers who thrived in and around Cornwall, from the early modern period through to the nineteenth century.

Yet there are more stories to tell…