The majority of Cornwall's most picturesque villages are to be found on its famously beautiful, rugged coast but there are exceptions to be found inland and Herodsfoot is one of them. Hidden away in a deep valley just four miles South West of the old Market Town of Liskeard, Herodsfoot was described by the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as 'an inland Polperro' and the village attracts a fair number of visitors to savour its sheer Cornishness.
Photo - Rod Morris
The name 'Herodsfoot' is generally accepted as deriving from old the Cornish 'Nanshiryarth' meaning 'the stream at the foot of the long hill' but the alternative possibility is more in keeping with the general ambience of the village - the local Giant 'Herod' planted his foot here making the deep valley that we see today. There has been a settlement here since medieval times, with people gaining a living from the Herodsfoot and Deer Park forests as well as locally cultivated orchards, but it was not until silver and lead mines were dug into the steep valley walls that the population began to grow. In 1851 the Parish was created and the Church of All Saints was built high on the hillside - described by John Betjeman as 'big boned and stately'. The Church is a substantial building, buttressed all round under a very high pitched, slate roof and a turret at the Western end hung with a single bell. The population of the village was a mere 116 when the Church was opened but ten years later had quadrupled and reached a peak in 1871 with 499 people being recorded in the census.
Photo - Anton Maguire
In the centre of the village a stone war memorial stands on the Green close to the old stone bridge. The names of 13 villagers are recorded as follows:
SERVICES IN THE
|J. BODY||C. HONEY|
OF ALL WHO SERVED IN 1939-1945
So it was that Herodsfoot was spared fatalities in both the World Wars - a rare feat indeed and something that the Villagers of today look back on with both pride and gratitude.
Herodsfoot is the most southerly of the 'Thankful Villages' of England and Wales and the only one to be found in the Duchy of Cornwall.
Text - Rod Morris
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