Lostwithiel was the capital of Cornwall for a short period in the 13th century and founded by the Normans for the export of tin. The name 'Lostwithiel' comes from two old Cornish words meaning 'tail of the forest' Its importance was that it was the lowest bridging point on the River Fowey. It was an inland port and stannary town.
The river at that time was wide and deep, and ships could get right up to the quay to load tin for export to France and the Mediterranean.
The river at Lostwithiel then silted up, due to spoil from the mines up on the moors, so ships could no longer get to it. The largest iron mine in Cornwall was nearby, and a tramway took the ore to the town, from where it was shipped by barge to the sea at Fowey.
Edmund, Earl of Cornwall built the Duchy Palace with its shire hall, exchequer and coinage hall, where tin was assayed and duty paid. The frontage of the Palace still exists by the river. It was the seat of the Duchy Parliament, Stannary Court and Hall of Exchequer. The present Masonic Hall was the Exchequer where tin was weighed and valued.
Lostwithiel was occupied by Parliamentary soldiers during the Civil War and was besieged by Royalists in August 1644. The Parliamentarians were defeated, but the town's inhabitants were starving and most buildings destroyed.
There are Georgian houses, narrow "ope ways" ,old shop fronts, the 1740 guildhall and the buttressed walls of the Old Duchy Palace (13th century) as reminders of is past.
Also 13th century is the unusual octagonal Breton style church spire of St Bartholomew's.
North of the town is Restormel Castle, a well preserved example of a Norman castle. it also featured in a Civil War battle.
Lostwithiel, Cornwall genealogical information, in Genuki