Padstow a picturesque fishing port is on the Camel Estuary, about seven miles from Wadebridge. Padstow is clustered round the harbour are craft and gift shops, artists' studios, bars and restaurants. A popular tourist resort today, probably best known for the number of Rick Stein (the TV cook) enterprises. There is a foot ferry to Rock on the other side of the estuary.
Padstow has had a long history and a number of names. It has been called Loderick and Aldestowe in the past. The Saints Way covering 30 miles from Padstow to Fowey was part of a Bronze Age and iron Age trading route between Ireland and Brittany, that avoided the dangerous passage by boat round Lands End. It is thought that this track was also used during Roman times, as there is evidence of Roman settlement in the area. The Ramblers Association produce information on the Saints Way, as you can still walk it today.
St Petroc, landed from Ireland and spent 30 years in Padstow, founded his monastery here in the 6th century, but this was later destroyed in 961 AD by a Viking raid. The monastery was transferred to Bodmin, as Padstow came under the control of the Priory of Bodmin. But another church was built at Padstow to replace the one destroyed by the Vikings, but now only the base of the tower remains from this church.
The town grew as a port in the Middle ages as it offered one of the few harbours on the North coast of Cornwall. In 1565 Sir John Hawkins sheltered here while returning from the West Indies, and a few years later Sir Martin Frobisher had to run for shelter here while returning from his search for the North West Passage in 1577.
Padstow developed as fishing port, and as a major shipbuilding centre and even a terminus for Trans Atlantic passenger ships including emigrant ships, until the silting up of the Doom bar sandbank at the mouth of the harbour stopped larger ships entering the port. The attractive medieval town has remained largely unspoiled.
Padstow had its first lifeboat stationed prior to 1827 when improvements began to be made to the port in an effort to make it safer. The Padstow Lifeboat web site records the full history of the RNLI here. The current lifeboat station is located at Mother Ivey’s Bay, Trevose Head, having been resited from Hawker's Cove in October 1967 due to silting.
The Court House of Sir Walter Raleigh is on the North Quay. When he was Warden of Cornwall, he lived in Padstow. The Court House on Riverside was office used for the collection of dues and taxes. It is now a private residence and not open to the public.
Abbey House, dating from the 15th century is on the South Quay. The Guild of St. Petroc was set up by traders in Padstow. Their headquarters was probably Abbey House, it is now a private residence, and not open to the public.
The railway reached the town in 1899, and although trains no linger come to Padstow, the old track has been ripped up and converted into the Camel Cycle and Walking Trail. It runs from Padstow to Poleys Bridge via Wadebridge and Bodmin, and follows the route of the River Camel.
Padstow Museum is a small but interesting museum,50 meters from the harbour. Initially set up in 1971, it holds an interesting collection of artifacts giving an insight into the history of the Port of Padstow over the past two centuries.
St. Petroc's Church is on a hill above the town is the starting point of the Saints' Way. According to Bishop Bronscombe's registers, Edmund Stafford, bishop of Exeter, licensed services in this church on 28th September 1415.
The May Day Hobby Horse Festival (said to hark back to pagan fertility rites) is believed to be one of the oldest dance festivals in Europe. And at Christmas, traditional Padstow carols which date back to the 18th century, are sung in the streets
Prideaux Place (an Elizabethan mansion, home of the Prideaux family since 1588, and open roughly mid May to early October each year) is just outside the town is. During the Reformation the ownership of church land in the area was acquired by the Prideaux family. Prideaux Place was actually built on the site of the former Barton of the Monks of Bodmin. It was completed late in the 16th century and houses one of the oldest deer parks in the country.
Padstow, Cornwall genealogical information from Genuki