St Germans was originally a fishing village in the 19th century. St Germans is built on high land at the confluence of the River Tamar and the River Lynher.
St. Germans was originally the seat of the Bishop of Cornwall before the see was combined with Exeter in 1261. Today the Bishop of Truro's deputy is known as the Bishop of St. Germans in acknowledgement of this, although he has no specific links with the town.
The town was one of the rotten boroughs, electing two members to the unreformed House of Commons until the Reform Act 1832.
Augustine canons founded a priory here in the 1162 but all that remains today is the church. The massive church has two towers dating from the 13th and 15th centuries. Inside is a memorial to the Eliot family, whose home Port Eliot is beside the church.
Port Eliot is now owned by the present Earl (In 1815 John Eliot was created Earl of St Germans.). Car rallies, festivals such as the Elephant Fayre and the Port Eliot Lit Fest are sometimes held in the park but otherwise neither the house nor its grounds are open to the public. The house contains an collection of paintings, including several works by Joshua Reynolds. It has a remarkable Tudor gateway.
Pub St Germans, The Eliot Arms
The St Germans parish church
There are 16th century almshouses in the village. And there is a Victorian quay below the village which was busy in the last century with cargoes of minerals, coal, timber and limestone, and a trade in roadstone continued until World War II.
Just to the south Portwinkle, a small cove with a battered semi-circular harbour.