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OS Grid Ref:- SX2050

The picture postcard village of Polperro, three miles south west of Looe, has the reputation of being one of the loveliest fishing villages in Cornwall, with characterful streets of colourwashed cottages sheltered in a cliff ravine which descends to a picturesque harbour. Many of Polperro's streets are so narrow that cars are banned from the village and visitors must walk down or ride on a horse drawn carriage from the main car park above. A brook flows through the village down to the harbour. Polperro was once a thriving centre for smuggling and is still a working fishing village.

Polperro Harbour


The village has a history which dates back to the thirteenth century and once formed part of the ancient Raphael manor which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The present day village consists of a maze of lanes and alleyways, festooned with hanging baskets, and lined with interesting shops which descend down to the water's edge. The House on Props is a fascinating old building, a sixteenth century inn supported by wooden props, it bestrides the ancient Saxon bridge. A sixteenth century house in the village was once home to Dr. Jonathan Couch, naturalist, village doctor and collector of fossils who was the grandfather of the celebrated writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

The Bucaneer Pub and Polperro Harbour

Polperro streetPolperro

The Methodist preacher John Wesley stayed in the village twice, in 1760 he lodged at the Old Market House on Big Green and remarked of the populace "An accursed thing among them: wellnigh one and all bought or sold uncustomed goods."

Smuggling was in the past a way of life in Polperro. On one particularly famous occasion, excisemen, informed of the fact that a large number of kegs of contraband brandy had been hidden in a cellar above Yellow Rock, proceeded to Polperro to confront the smugglers. On reaching cellar, they found the smugglers, waiting to recieve them and ready to open fire. The excise officer returned to Fowey to collect reinforcements, but the kegs and the smugglers had disappeared on his return.


Polperro has some good restaurants and pubs, including the characterful fourteenth century Crumplehorn Inn, which boasts a restored waterwheel. A number of the village's inns date back as far as medieval times, including the Bucaneer, Three Pilchards and the Blue Peter.


Fishing trips and pleasure cruises are available from the quayside. The coastline surrounding the village is part of the South Cornwall Heritage Coast and there are cliff paths leading to the smuggling coves of Talland and Lantivet Bay.

Places of interest

*The Model Village - a replica of the village before the arrival of tourism with the addition of many references to Cornish Myth and Legend, the Polperro Model Village has been entertaining visitors to Polperro since the late 1940's.

Polperro Model Village

The Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing - Situated in The Warren overlooking the harbour, the Museum houses a remarkable collection of exhibits and nineteenth century photographs as well as many items of memorabilia dating from the eighteenth century when both smuggling thrived in Polperro.

Towns and Villages

Pirates, Smugglers and Wreckers of Cornwall