Once a thriving working port, constructed to export copper and china clay, Charlestown's principal industry is now as a film set and to welcome visitors who want to follow in the footsteps of sailors from the past. Beautifully preserved, the pretty pastel fishermen's cottages line the harbour, with a nice range of places to eat, drink and shop dotted around as well.
A charming Grade II listed harbour and a Poldark connection are just a couple of the reasons that you'll want to head to Charlestown. The beautiful harbour and surroundings retain much of their Georgian character with beautiful period properties sitting side by side with traditional stone fishermen's cottages and harbourside inns.
Built by local landowner Charles Rashleigh, hence Charlestown, he needed a port to ship copper from Cornwall to South Wales and also to bring coal in. It later went over to China Clay and the remains of the shuts can be seen on the east side of the harbour.
Nowadays tourism is the main business in Charlestown with a nice selection of shops and café’s scattered around the harbour.
History & Heritage
The Shipwreck Treasure Museum is a must visit whilst in Charlestown, providing a unique insight into the history of Charlestown and with an opportunity to venture through underground tunnels that were once used to load clay onto ships moored in the harbour. You will also be able to view the largest private collection of shipwreck artefacts in Europe, with nearly 8,000 artefacts from over 150 shipwrecks.
Meanwhile, around the harbour you might be lucky to view visiting craft or Charlstown's very own Anny, a Danish tall-ship built in the 1930s. The long-term plan for the harbour is to create a base for all manner of traditional and sailing vessels, with a view to helping young people become part of a multi-talented and flexible crew for the crafts based here.
A Starring Role
Leading film website IMDb list over 20 films and tv series that have been shot at Charlestown. Perhaps the most famous these days is Poldark, but it can also be seen in the award winning Cornish film Bait, Tim Burton's 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland, the 1976 war film, The Eagle has Landed and Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, where it doubled as a Central American harbour!
It's also been used for a recent episode of Dr Who, featured in BBC's sci-fi drama Tripods in the 1980s and before that in the historical series The Onedin Line.
You may be lucky to catch filming taking place when you visit, and who knows which stars might be walking around?
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Charlestown
The M4, M5 and M6 motorways have made travel to Cornwall simple and straightforward, while within Cornwall itself, the A30 and A38 continue to improve with fast dual carriageways. Follow the M5 to Exeter, and join the A30 and then take the A391 to St Austell (just past Bodmin). Once in St Austell, follow the A390 until you see signposts to Charlestown, signposted off Mount Chales roundabout. Parking can be found in the village, but is limited.
National Express serves Cornwall from destinations throughout the UK. Connecting services to Cornwall are available from Bristol, Birmingham and London. The nearest coach stop to Charlestown is St Austell. From here you can pick up a local bus or taxi.
Great Western Railways operate high speed services from London Paddington, South Wales and the Cotswolds to Cornwall, including sleeper services from London Paddington. Cross Country Trains (Arriva Trains) operate services into Cornwall from the Midlands, the North and Scotland. The nearest train station to Charlestown is St Austell. From here you can pick up a local bus or taxi.
- st Austell
The Rashleigh arms is owned and managed by St Austell Breweries.
Leading film website IMDb list over 20 films and tv series that have been shot at Charlestown. Perhaps the most famous these days is Poldark, but it can also be seen in the award winning Cornish film Bait, Tim Burton's 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland, the 1976 war film, The Eagle has Landed and Mel Gibson's Apocalypto where it doubled as a Central American harbour!
It's also been used for a recent episode of Dr Who, featured in BBC's sci-fi drama Tripods in the 1980s and before that in the historical series The Onedin Line
The historic harbour has been home to many old ladies of the sea over the years. These days it is home to a number of vessels, the main one being the Anny of Charlestown, a topsail schooner built in Denmark in 1930. There are also a couple of Looe luggers, a Bristol Cutter and several other historic boats. Of course, being boats, means they may not always be at Charlestown, and there's always a chance others may be visiting.
Best thing to do is go down and have a look?
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
Your weekly dose of Cornish cheer!
When you can’t be in your favourite place all the time, catch up on the latest stories, upcoming events, holiday ideas, and offers with a newsletter straight to your inbox. Terms and Conditions / GDPR compliance: by providing personally identifiable information Visit Cornwall will use it to provide you with ongoing information about their products and services. No one from Visit Cornwall will rent, sell or lease this personally identifiable information to other companies or individuals.
Find us on socials and stay connected with the Cornwall you love.