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History of Pencuke Farm

Pencuke, is Cornish for 'Swallows End'. Pencuke Farm was originally one of three farms in the village. The farm is made up of 20 acres of land, which is mainly farmland with a mixture of outbuildings. It is the first house you come to when entering the hamlet of Pencuke from the Atlantic Highway.

The original farmhouse (Apple Cottage) and Appleloft at Pencuke Farm dates back to the 17th century. The building has a lot of original charm, with many exposed beams, different level floors, granite fireplaces and slate flagstone floors. Both Apple Cottage and Appleoft were originally used as the main farmhouse, with the utility of Apple Cottage and the kitchen of Appleloft, being the dairy and the butter used to be made on a large peice of slate near rthe rear door of the farmhouse. The Appleloft as the name suggests was originally used to store apple in the the loft and some people say it still has a slight scent of apples.

The barn was built in 1898 and it is where grain was milled, store cattle and where the horses were kept. It is now converted into 4 properties, Darzona, the Roundhouse, Skyber and the owners residence. Darzona, which is Cornish for "god bless" was where the cattle was kept and has been converted into a one bedroom cottage. Skyber is Cornish for "barn" and has been converted into a three bed cottage. The Roundhouse is at the back, enjoying views over the valley and out to sea. It is actually square and has an original beam running all the way through it into Skyber.

Across the courtyard is the shippon which was originally was used to house pigs. It is currently used as a log store and laundry room.

The history of St. Gennys

The first written reference to the parish of St. Gennys appears in the Domesday Book, which tells us that in 1086 the Manor of Sanwinas (or Sanguinas) was held by Earl Mortain, and from him by his tenant Jovinus. However this should not be thought of as the earliest evidence of human occupation because within St. Gennys Parish there are a cliff Castle, three other earthworks and a series of round barrows dating from 'prehistoric' times.

St. Gennys Parish is situated on the north coast of Cornwall, a few miles north east of Boscastle and extends to approximately 5,500 acres. It has remained relatively unchanged through the centuries, partly due to its location lying far to the north of the main route into Cornwall from Exeter by way of Launceston and Bodmin, now the A30 Trunk Road. The lesser 'East-West' route through North Cornwall, via Stratton and Camelford, only touches the extreme south-eastern boundary of the parish: this route known previously as the A39 has recently been re-named as 'The Atlantic Highway'

That part of the St. Gennys parish is typically at about 550 feet above sea level and close to the watershed. On the St. Gennys side the streams rising there run a relatively short distance, about 2 miles before reaching the sea on the north coast of Cornwall at Crackington Haven running though hamlets such as Pencuke and Pencuke Farm.

The sea coast of the parish consists of precipitous sea cliffs exposed to the Atlantic wind and waves: that at the south-western end of the parish, known as High Cliff, reaches 730 feet above sea level, the highest cliff not only in Cornwall but in the whole of England. The only major break in this sea cliff in the parish is where the stream (called Fellows stream) enters the sea at Crackington Haven. On the north-eastern side of the beach at Crackington Haven the valley side forms what is probably the most impressive part of the sea cliff in the parish, Penkenna Point, which rises about 400 feet near vertically above sea level. The steep sided valley of this stream effectively divides the parish into two halves between which there has always been friendly rivalry.

Another principal determining factor for St. Gennys and other parts of the coastal area of North Cornwall is the Atlantic Ocean. It is because of the force of the Atlantic gales and the salt-laden air beating in from the sea that so much of the parish is barren of wood today, and so many of the trees and shrubs are made to turn their tops away from the wind. In the more exposed positions thorn bushes can be seen growing at right angles to their stocks, the wind singeing off all attempts at any growth upwards. Those who enjoy teasing the Cornish point out that 'even the shrubs and bushes look towards Devon'!

Many of the fields in the parish are 'ancient', being enclosed several hundreds of years ago, as can be seen by the shape of the fields and by their Cornish language names. In addition, large areas of open moorland, which were previously unenclosed, were hedged in for corn production in the middle of the 19th century. In the same period and for the same reason, the steep sides of the coombes were brought into cultivation, but these have since mainly reverted to furze-brake.

Unlike most parishes St. Gennys has no main village as its centre. The 'Churchtown' consisted only of the Church, school and school-house, a farmhouse and farm buildings plus cottages and the vicarage. Although at the time it is believed there were other houses there including almshouses for the aged and poor of the parish. Nowadays most of the farm and school buildings have been converted into houses and the vicarage is now a private dwelling.

Every parish in former times had its fair share of local craftsmen and small tradesmen, but St. Gennys by reason of its distance from any town and because of its mineral resources and situation on the coast was blessed with more than most parishes. Agriculture has always been, and indeed remains, the primary source of livelihood especially in hamlets such as Pencuke where there were originally 3 farms, but slate quarrying, mining and the trade brought by coasters have also played their part. In its heyday there were Blacksmiths at Churchtown, Cleave, Coxford, Rosecare, Pencuke, Wainhouse Corner, Mineshop, Tresparrett Post and Trevigue, wheelwrights at Trevelyan and Higher Crackington and millers at Pencuke, Crackington Haven and Trencreek. Today there are none remaining.

History of Crackington Haven

Until the nineteenth century, Crackington Haven was a small port similar to many others on the north coast of Cornwall. Limestone and coal were imported and slate and other local produce were exported. After the railways reached the district in 1893 the village could be reached more easily (from the North Cornwall Railway station at Otterham) so holidaymaking became more common.

Crackington Haven is popular with holiday makers and geology students. The surrounding cliffs are well-known for their visible folded sedimentary rock formations. The village gives its name to the Crackington formation, a sequence of Carboniferous sandstones and grey shales.

Crackington Haven was also badly affected in 2004 by the flood that damaged several other villages, including Boscastle. The road bridge across the stream, several homes and pub were damaged by floodwater. You can still see felled trees on Pencuke Farm that came down during the floods. Amazing when you see the stream is mostly a trickle at this point normally.