Visit this pretty Georgian harbor town, once an important port for china clay and now a popular filming location for period TV shows and movies.
Charlestown is one of Cornwall’s most picturesque villages, known for its well-preserved late-Georgian working port. Browse the town’s galleries, check out tall ships moored in its harbor and cool off with a drink at a restaurant overlooking its sandy beach.
Charlestown was built between 1791 and 1801 by Charles Rashleigh, an entrepreneur and local landowner, to facilitate exporting china clay from nearby St. Austell. Remarkably, the town continues to serve as a working port and small amounts of china clay are still exported today. Look around the harbor for one of the town’s impressive old square-riggers. The harbor is often used as a filming location for TV shows and movies, including Doctor Who, Mansfield Park and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
Visit the Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre, which exhibits artifacts collected from more than 150 shipwrecks, dating as far back as the early 18th century. Set in a historic clay building, the museum houses one of England’s largest collections of underwater diving equipment. Look for artifacts from the Titanic and other failed White Star Liners, as well as memorabilia relating to Admiral Nelson.
Walk along the town’s small beach, which is located just beyond the harbor. Covered with a mix of sand and pebble, the beach is a fine spot for bodyboarding or snorkeling depending on the tide conditions. You’ll also find a few restaurants and cafés where you can sip a drink overlooking the shore. Head to nearby St. Austell Bay to enjoy golden sand beaches and even more watersports opportunities.
The town has several small galleries. The Atishoo Gallery exhibits the work of more than 80 artists, many from southwest England. Check out the gallery’s ever-changing exhibition of paintings, jewelry, pottery and crafts.
Charlestown is located 7 miles (12 kilometers) from Fowey and 2.2 miles (3.5kilometer) from St. Austell. To get here, follow the highway from the Mount Charles roundabout in St. Austell or use local bus services.