St Agnes Parish Museum

St Agnes Parish Museum
Penwinnick Road
St Agnes



Address for all correspondence to the museum. Mail will be forwarded to the appropriate member of the team. We endeavour to reply the same day whenever possible.


For all enquiries during opening hours only

01872 553228

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
St. Agnes Museum Building
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An award-winning volunteer-run Museum and Interpretative Centre, comprising information, artefacts and curios relating to the Parish of St. Agnes.

St. Agnes is a beautiful coastal village with a rich history in tin and copper mining as well as fishing, although today its main trade is tourism. A visit to the museum can be complemented with one of many walks taking in the historic mine engine house remains or lunch in one of the many restaurants, cafes or pubs.

The Museum was established in 1984 and moved to its current location in the old Chapel of Rest in 1990.

The Chapel, was built in the late 19th century to cope with the increasing mining population of St. Agnes. Although the graveyard is still in use, the Chapel was unused for some years before the Museum took on the lease from the Parish Council.

The building now houses a wonderful collection that tells the stories of many of those laid to rest in the grounds, as well as countless others from the parish.

In June 2011 the hard work and dedication of the volunteers in preserving the local heritage of St. Agnes was recognised by Her Majesty awarding the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Venue Type:

Museum, Heritage site, Archive, Gallery, Ship or maritime heritage site

Opening hours

10.30am to 5pm every day from Good Friday until 31st October

Admission charges


Getting there

From the A30 take the B3277 toward St Agnes. After you pass the village welcome sign, the Museum is on the left, opposite Penwinnick Parc, a few yards before the mini roundabout.

There is no dedicated parking at the museum; parking is in the village car park on Trelawny Road, just 5 minutes walk away.

You can travel by bus. From Truro take the 85 (First), 583 (Western Greyhound) or 403 (Summercourt).

Additional info

Museum arranged on two floors with virtual access by computer to the upper floor collection for those unable to use stairs.

Friendly volunteer staff with a wealth of local knowledge.

Children's Activities free of charge including a treasure hunt type activity with a small prize and "brass" rubbing.

Small shop selling local interest books, children's books, small toys and mementos. We aim to source most of our stock locally and this includes several attractive items made of tin from Blue Hills, St. Agnes. An ideal place to pop in and find something special from St. Agnes for both holiday-makers and locals alike.

A small St. Agnes Parish family History/Genealogy research section - see Resources.

Primary School Visits by appointment. Workshops on Mining and World War II, as well as opportunity to include any of the museum exhibit topics.

Education Outreach visits by appointment (Primary Schools only). Main topics are Mining and World War II; other subjects could be covered by arrangement.

Guided Tours for groups by appointment.

Out of Hours visits by appointment.

St. Agnes Museum Collections are all centred upon the social history of the Parish of St Agnes which includes the areas of St. Agnes, Blackwater, Mithian, Mount Hawke, Porthtowan and Trevellas.

The Museum is relatively small but it packs in an enormous amount of information and displays just the right balance of artefacts from the various collection themes to keep any visitor interested.

There is something for everyone - whether a local person wanting to understand the parish their forebears inhabited and worked, a descendant of a past local wishing to get a feel for where they come from, or a holiday maker keen to learn more about their destination or to simply entertain the children - there is bound to be something of interest among the displays.

Collection details

Social History, Costume and Textiles, Fine Art, Maritime, Law and Order, Photography, Sport, Archaeology, Coins and Medals, Medicine, Personalities, Religion, Weapons and War, Archives, Trade and Commerce, Natural Sciences, Literature, Land Transport, Industry, Agriculture

Quern Stone


Learn more about the ancient histrory of our Parish; the well at Chapel Porth, the mysterious Bolster Bank. Quern stones and items related to Medieval mining are also on display and we have a collection of stone tools on loan from the Royal Cornwall Museum.

John Opie bust

Art & Literature

This small parish museum boasts a fine collection of Art and Literature.

Amongst others, the myths and legends about St. Agnes folk are told in written and painted form and the work and the paint-box of Royal Academician John Opie, who was born in the parish before finding his fame in London, are on display in our first floor gallery.

Domestic Iron

Daily Life

The daily life of past inhabitants of this mining, farming and fishing village are well documented with a display of artefacts from local homes and businesses. The Cornish Range, a ceramic hot water bottle, a school reader, a baby's toys and egg-cup, a laundry posser and a victorian oil-lamp are amongst the broad ranging items on display.

Family Headstone

Family History/ Genealogy

St. Agnes Museum building is an old Chapel of Rest built on the edge of a village cemetery. As such it is ideally located to attract many visitors researching their St. Agnes ancestors. St. Agnes can proudly boast connections to mine engine houses built all over the world by men from this parish; visitors from as far away as Australia and America or as close as the neighbouring parishes come to search out their roots.

The museum records include details of the graves in this cemetery as well as all other cemeteries and monuments in the parish. We also hold many other records such as the 1798 Tinners List, Parish Marriages, School Logs, Protestation Returns, Electoral Registers, the Tithe Map and individual Family Histories/Trees.

These records are constantly being updated as visitors add their own histories to the collection.

The Lady Agnes Schooner in the harbour at Trevaunance where she was built


Today St. Agnes coastline is most well known for its attraction as a holiday resort but in centuries past the harbour at Trevaunance had an entirely different role as a port for the shipping in and out of important resources, principally between St. Agnes and Wales or Ireland.

The first attempt to build a harbour at Trevaunance began by John Tonkin in 1632 but was destroyed before it was finished. His grandson Hugh Tonkin made another failed attempt in 1684 and then in 1699 with the help of Henry Winstanley (builder of the first lighthouse on Eddystone) he built a harbour wall that was to stand for seven years until destroyed in a terrible storm.

Thomas Tonkin, next in the family line, was encouraged by the success of the previous harbour and rebuilt it again in 1710. He had used so much of the family fortune that he fell into debt and failed to make necessary repairs to the wall. The ultimate price was paid when the wall once again was ravaged by the sea.

In 1793 an Act of Parliament provided for a new Pier and Harbour to be built and this successful project provided St. Agnes with a major industrial port until once again the sea took it in 1916.

Today all that remains of the harbour are piles of enormous stone blocks which can be seen at low tide.

St. Agnes Museum has a wonderful scale model of the last harbour, as well as many photographs of boats and people in the harbour, ships built in the harbour and a beautiful figurehead which once proudly adorned the schooner Lady Agnes which was built in the harbour.



Have you ever wondered what sort of weird and wonderful implements your forebears met when visiting the doctor? If so, St. Agnes Museum can show you some of them.

Five generations of the same family have been doctors in the village and a wonderful collection including blood-letting lancets, delivery forceps, electro-therapy machines, specimen slides and a microscope are on display in the "Whitworth Collection".

Miner's lamp


Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site( . St. Agnes Museum represents the mining heritage of the Parish and the World Heritage Status of the area.

The parish has a rich mining history and the museum not only preserves mining artefacts and records, but actively promotes the preservation of local mining buildings.

Trigger Fish

Natural History

We have a beautiful hand made and realistic Natural History display created by a local artist showing many native species ranging from adders to jackdaws - including a bone from a whale washed ashore in St. Agnes - and causing quite a stink - during the Second World War.

We have amazing underwater photographs that reveal the success of campaigns to clean up our waters

- and -

of course we have to mention our much loved and celebrated Leatherback Turtle - he is a favourite of adults and children alike and was voted Best Exhibit in a competition in which Cornish celebrities asked us to vote for their personal favourite.

St. Agnes Railway Station


The Great Western Railway Chacewater to Newquay branch-line passed through St. Agnes station and other small halts in the parish. Our section opened in July 1903 and sadly the whole branch-line closed in 1963. Many holiday makers came to St. Agnes on the train and many locals commuted or connected to mainline trains to travel "up-country".

St. Agnes Museum has a small display dedicated to this section of the line with wonderful images of those steamy days, including a Ken Young photograph of the last train leaving St Agnes Station in 1962.

The display also includes old tickets, the kettle used at the station, smelling salts and two of the Train Staffs used to manage the points on this single section of line.

Gas Mask

War & Conflict

Our wartime display combines the heroism of St Agnes folk with a glimpse of what life was like back home in the Parish during those dark days of conflict. You can see items used in the trenches in the 1914-18 war, an ARP Warden's First Aid Kit, a piece of schrapnel that landed in the middle of the village - even a tin of condensed milk, a special treat in days of rationing. We also have an impressive collection of medals with photographs of the men and women who received them.

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Great War Exhibition

  • Until 31 October 2014 *on now
  • From 18 April 2014

Like many other museums, this year we are commemorating the Great War 1914-1918. We have researched the details of all of those service personnel named on memorials around the Parish of St Agnes as having lost their lives during that period and we have a commemorative book on display at the museum. We also have a wonderful range of artefacts and stories of those from the Parish who served or whose loved ones served. The collection includes letters and cards written from the front line, sketches made by those serving, diairies, personal belongings sent home when a soldier was killed and medals and badges awarded to the servicemen. The display is being added to all of the time as people's memories are stirred and new items are brought along to the museum. The centrepiece is a very touching story of a local Mining Engineer, Harold Llewellyn Twite of Castle House, St Agnes, who lost his life just before Christmas 1915 when his successful tunnelling and explosives mission was counter-mined by Germans. Along with 9 other Cornish miners, he was killed. His belongings placed in a hessian sack, were sent back to his wife, then staying in Surrey but she could not bear to look at them. It is her grandson who has eventually decided that they should be seen and reunited with Twite's home village. Mrs Twite didn't completely shy away from the tragedy
instead she put her energy into organising and funding a memorial plaque to be mounted in St Agnes Parish Church, commemorating those ten men. She wrote asking their loved ones for permission to include them and the letters she received in response from wives and mothers are now on display at the museum. The plaque can still be seen in the Church.

Opie Fine Art Display

  • Until 31 October 2014 *on now
  • From 18 April 2014

This year St Agnes Museum have been lucky to purchase another painting by the celebrated artist Edward Opie, Great Nephew of the Cornish Wonder John Opie R. A. With the assistance of grants from the Art Fund, the V&A and local benefactors, we purchased a very pretty portrait of Edward's sister Joanna, done when she was 11 years old and only seven months before she sadly died. We are still researching her death but there is some suggestion that she may have been a victim of Cholera which was spreading through the County at that time. Edward first exhbited at the Royal Acadamy in 1838. The museum had already purchased a portrait he did of his father and we have a painting of the Parish Church on loan from the Church. Also this year, to complement the collection we have been loaned another family portrait by Edward, that of his and Joanna's brother John. You can also see Edward Opie's pallette which we purchased at auction last year and which may well have previously belonged to his Great Uncle John Opie R. A. John Opie's paintbox, given to him when he became a Royal Academician, is also on display.

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.
Family Tree Image

Family & Community History Records

St. Agnes Museum has a small section dedicated to researching parish family and community history.

The records include material unavailable elsewhere such as personally researched Family Trees, transcribed School Log Books and Headstone Transcriptions from the various cemeteries.

How to obtain

Information from the records held at the Museum can be obtained by visiting the Museum or by making an enquiry via our e-mail address or web site contact page.

The Museum is also always happy to accept family history records from anyone researching their St. Agnes ancestors. These make a valuable resource to share with other St. Agnes descendants all around the world.

Tithe Example from St Agnes

St Agnes Parish Tithe Map & Apportionment 1841

St. Agnes Museum has a full sized replica drawing of the Parish Tithe Map created in 1841 which shows every separate parcel of land.

We also hold the Apportionment Book designed to be read alongside this map, which shows who owned the land, who occupied it, what size and type of land it was and how much rent was payable to the Vicar and the Appropriators.

How to obtain

The Tithe Map and the Apportionment Book can be seen at St Agnes Museum any time we are open.

Enquiries can also be made via e-mail or via our web site contact page.

Getting there

From the A30 take the B3277 toward St Agnes. After you pass the village welcome sign, the Museum is on the left, opposite Penwinnick Parc, a few yards before the mini roundabout.

There is no dedicated parking at the museum; parking is in the village car park on Trelawny Road, just 5 minutes walk away.

You can travel by bus. From Truro take the 85 (First), 583 (Western Greyhound) or 403 (Summercourt).