Cardinham is one of the largest parishes in Cornwall, made up of 9612 acres of land and 22 acres of water. Its sparse population of 588 (in 2011) is scattered in farms, houses and cottages around the parish and clustered around the church of St. Meubred in Cardinham village and the Methodist Chapel in the nearby hamlet of Millpool, about 1½ miles to the north. It is located on the edge of Bodmin Moor to the north east of Bodmin town, with farming being the only significant industry. The boundary of the parish is approximately 26 miles. Every five years a hardy group of Parish Councillors and Parishioners “Beat the Bounds” – walk the Parish boundary – during a weekend.
The name is Cornish from “Car” or “Caer” which means “enclosure” or “fort,” and “dinas” which may also mean “fortress.” It is assumed from the name that there has been a castle or fortress there since ancient times. Cardinham Castle is a fortress built in 1080 by the Sheriff of Cornwall for the then Earl of Cornwall, Robert de Mortain who was William the Conqueror’s half-brother. Not content with the estates he already owned after the Norman Conquest of 1066 he also seized much of the land in the parish which had formally belonged to the priory in Bodmin. This was very unpopular with the locals and so he built the fortress to keep the moorland folk subdued. At this time he also built castles at Lostwithiel and Launceston where he resided. The castle was occupied by Robert Fitz-Turold and his descendants for several hundred years. The family used the family name “de Cardinan,” taken from this place. The castle was a very short distance to the south and east of the church on White Hill. It is on private land, but almost nothing remains there. The site of the castle can be visited with permission of the landowner.
At the other end of the parish on Bodmin Moor is St Bellarmin’s Tor on which there are remains which are alleged to be of a small chapel dedicated to St Bartholomew who reputedly lived and preached there. It is a lovely spot and can be reached by a track which leaves from the village of Millpool opposite the telephone box.