Fowey is a bustling small port which still has a busy commercial life in addition to providing attractive moorings for leisure boats. Its harbour is flanked by fourteenth century blockhouses, one in Fowey and one on the opposite side of the river in Polruan, from which chains were once suspended to close the harbour mouth. Polruan blockhouse may be visited on foot. There is a good view from there of the remains of Fowey blockhouse, which is not open to visitors.
During the Second World War, Fowey was the centre for air-sea rescue and also one of the places from which the D-Day invasions were launched.
St Catherine’s Point is on the Fowey side of the harbour entrance. In medieval times St Catherine’s chapel stood on the cliff top, displaying a light and functioning as a lighthouse. The fort below, St Catherine’s Castle, was built in the reign of Henry VIII to defend the harbour entrance. It is accessible on foot from Readymoney Cove
The local church is dedicated to St Finnbarr who is said to have passed through Fowey early in the 6th century. The church was destroyed by French marauders in the 15th century and was later rebuilt by the Earl of Warwick. Place House is the tower, standing behind the church. It has been the home of the Treffry family since the 13th century and is not open to the public. The best view of the tower is from the river.
On Fore Street is the Old House of Foye, a medieval house built in 1430. It is one of the oldest buildings in Fowey and is now a shop. The walls, beamed interior and fireplace are scarcely altered from the original.
There are frequent ferries to Polruan, an interesting village with cottages clinging to the hillside. It is worth crossing to see the panoramic views from the top of the hill. In addition, a car ferry crosses the river to Boddinick. The ferry house here was originally the du Maurier family holiday home and later the home of Angela du Maurier, Daphne’s sister and a lesser known novelist. The views from the top of Polruan Hill are stunning. Further down, just above the village is a monument to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, the Cornish author known as “Q”. His Troy Town stories use Fowey as a model.
During the summer months, Fowey Town Hall houses a museum and a small aquarium. The port has an interesting history and was the major port on the south coast of Cornwall during the fourteenth century. More recently, it was the main centre for the export of china clay from the area. Many properties in Fowey and the surrounding area were owned by the Rashleigh family. The town boasts many craft shops, galleries and restaurants.