Falmouth, Cornwall with the Carrick Roads make one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The narrow entrance make it easily defensible even with cannon. In late Elizabethan times Pendennis Castle at Falmouth and its smaller sister at St Mawes on the other side, were constructed to defend the port, and deny invaders the opportunity of using the sheltered waters. The present day resort offers visitors s four main beaches - Gyllyngvase, Castle, Swanpool and Maenporth.
Falmouth, Cornwall Genealogical information on Genuki
However in 1600 there were only two houses here, a smithy and an alehouse. The growth of the site as a town is down to Sir Walter Raleigh who stayed with Sir John Killegrew at Arwenack House. Sir Walter was so taken with the natural harbour, that recommended that the site should be developed as a port. Sir John Killegrew got permission from Parliament and the town grew up. It was known as Pen-y-come-quick ("the head of the narrow vale"), but in 1660 a Royal proclamation changed the name to Falmouth. By the middle of the 19th century Falmouth was a major trading port, and it would not be an uncommon sight to see 350 ocean-going sailing ships riding at anchor in "Carrick Roads".
Packet Boats. Being the most westerly of suitable ports, Falmouth prospered as the base for the Empire "packet service". Between 1688 and 1852 there were 40 packet ships based in Falmouth delivering mail to every country in the British Empire. But the age of the steam ship meant that a port nearer London could be used more easily, and Falmouth eventually lost out to Southhampton. However the railway came in 1863, and brought a new era of prosperity as the area became a holiday resort.
Various things to see in Falmouth today are the Prince of Wales Pier (where pleasure boats to Flushing and St Mawes dock), a precipitous flight of 111 steps known as Jacobs Ladder (the steps were made by Jacob Hamblen, builder, tallow chandler and property owner, to enable him to move between his business - at the bottom - and some of his property - at the top), the "Queen's Pipe" beside the old Customs House ( a chimney where contraband was burnt).
Pendennis Castle stands impressively out on Pendennis Point and stands between Falmouth and the sea. It was built by Henry VIII between 1539-64 to defend the large natural harbour here against the French. During the Civil War the castle was held by the Royalist, Colonel John Arundel of Trerice, who defended the castle bravely for six months against the besieging Parliamentary army in 1646. When he eventually surrendered, the heroism of the defenders was marked by them being allowed in August 1646,to march out of the castle with f their weapons and banners flying (24 officers and 900 men were the survivors of the siege)
The parish church of King Charles the Martyr was built between 1662-64.
Gardens, Falmouth has four gardens actually in the town Fox Rosehill and Queen Mary ( Green Flag Park Award winners), plus Kimberley Park and Gyllyngdune. Various other gardens open to the public are close to the town - Trelissick, Glendurgan and Trebah.
Arwenack House is the oldest building in the town, it was originally an Elizabethan manor house built by the powerful local Killegrew family. Much of the original building was destroyed during the Civil War when it was the headquarters of the Roundhead Army besieging Pendennis Castle, and was rebuilt eventually in 1786. Peter Killigrew was persuaded by King Charles II to make the town the Royal Mail Packet Station. Mary Killigrew lived in Arwenack House, and was one of Cornwall's most notorious robbers, and would take in sailors, get them drunk, then slit their throats and steal their money. Their hegemony came an end in the 18th century. Peter's son was killed in a duel. His son-in-law Martin took the Killigrew name - but he had no heirs, and that was the end of the Killigrews. Today Arwenack House has been restored and stands near the pyramid, a monument built by Martin Killegrew with oddly no markings on it at all. Apparently there are are two glass bottles inside the monument, last seen when the obelisk was moved in the 1830s, containing something - perhaps a clue as to what the monument was for.
The Arts Centre in the town centre offers a programme over the year, covering theatre, film, art exhibitions
Art Gallery has one of the most important collections in Cornwall, and features works by major British artists including Sir Frank Brangwyn RA, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Charles Napier Hemy RA, Dame Laura Knight RA, Sir Alfred Munnings RA, William Strang RA, Henry Scott Tuke RA, John William Waterhouse RA, George Frederick Watts RA.
The Princess Pavilion Theatre is to be found in the subtropical Gyllyngdune Gardens by the beach. The Theatre seats 400 or 500 standing and has one of the best sprung dance-floors in the region. In April 2003 management passed from Carrick District Council to Carrick Leisure Limited, an Independent Provident Society. And they have worked to restore the building and gardens.
National Maritime Museum Cornwall. This complex brings together collections from the National Maritime Museum in London and Cornwall's Maritime Museum. It is housed in an award winning building on the Falmouth harbour-side, concentrates on the world of small boats and Cornish maritime history. The Museum is open every day of the year from 10 - 5pm except Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Falmouth local history
Old Falmouth Susan Gay