TRIBUTES have been paid to the Reverend Barry Kinsmen after a body was discovered near Stepper Point.
It was recovered by Padstow inshore lifeboat crew from a collapsed cave known as the Butter Hole, not far from where the retired priest's Ford Ka was found abandoned on New Year's Eve.
A post-mortem examination was carried out on Monday but police say formal identification will not take place until next week.
The parish church was packed to capacity for a special service for the man known as "Mr Padstow", and this week the community paid tribute to the huge contribution Mr Kinsmen made to life in the town.
Mr Kinsmen, 72, was a past mayor of the town and an authority on its history and ancient customs.
A former head teacher of St Issey Primary School, he was also a Cornish bard and a member of the county executive of the Old Cornwall Society.
Mr Kinsmen helped set up Padstow Museum and wrote regularly for the Padstow Echo magazine.
Fellow historian and museum trustee John Buckingham said his friend's vast research into all aspects of Padstow would prove invaluable to future generations.
"That will surely be his legacy," said Mr Buckingham.
"Barry loved Padstow so much and was a real authority on its history and the history of Cornwall."
Mr Buckingham said the priest also took a keen interest in alternative religions: "Barry used to have a good chuckle when people used to call him the pagan vicar, but the church was always his rock.
"He loved all aspects of life in Padstow and collected so much material, always carefully researched, and he has left us all with a huge legacy."
Sue Norfolk, who edits the Padstow Echo, was a lifelong friend of Mr Kinsmen who officiated at her wedding back in the 1970s.
Mrs Norfolk said: "Barry was a lovely, kind and compassionate man and will be very much missed.
"He used to perform with the Kernow Players with his mother and grandmother back in the 1960s, and was a great supporter and patron of the Players and gave us very generous support when we were buying the Little Theatre.
"That support always continued and Barry was the first person to purchase tickets for our productions. Everyone will miss him."
Padstow mayor Teri Walter said Mr Kinsmen had been a huge presence in the town.
"He was such a character and his memory was awesome," she said.
"He knew so much about the town and could tell you wonderful stories he remembered from when he was a small boy.
"Barry was so well liked and well respected. He was always full of fun. What's happened is so tragic, and it's very sad for Padstow."