Penzance, Cornwall

Penzance, Cornwall seafrontPenzance, Cornwall

Penzance is an ancient market town 10 miles from Land's End. Penzance is on Mounts Bay with St. Michael's Mount visable to the east. An attractive promenade on its sea front. There are several historic houses in the town, with Regency and Georgian terraces.

Penzance has the most westerly major harbour and ferry services operate to the Isles of Scilly, which are 28 miles west of Lands End. A helicopter service also runs to the Scillies from here.The Scillonian III operates a daily service to and from St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly; the helicopter flightsare from the heliport on the eastern edge of the town.

Penzance comes from the Cornish pen (headland) and sans (holy). The town suffered from the Spanish raid of 1595, and later in 1646 from raiding parliamentarian troops in the Civil War. There were Algerian and French privateer raids during the 18th century.

The town was granted a Royal Charter for its harbour in 1512 by King Henry VIII. , markets and fairs in 1592 and was formally incorporated by Royal Charter in 1614.

The people of Penzance supported the king. However when the civil war ended in 1646, it was plundered by royalist soldiers. In 1648 a local uprising saw local men volunteering to fight for the king but they were defeated by the Parliamentarians, who then sacked the town again. Although it suffered in the Civil War, the town Charter was re-confirmed by King Charles II in 1663. In 1663 Charles II also made it a coinage town for the tin industry, simultaneously removing this right from Bodmin and Lostwithiel.

The long arms of the piers in the harbour were built in the 17th century to help protect the town from raids. The railway came in 1859, which helped export fish, flowers and vegetables to London. The town grew as a fashionable resort, and large Georgian, Regency and Victorian terraces and squares still exist on the south side of the town.

The main street, Market Jew Street, has a name that comes from the Cornish for Thursday market Marghas.

Penzance Egyptian House is in Chapel Street (Nos 6-7). This flamboyant style of architecture with it's ornate facade of lotus columns (made of Coade stone), was the vogue after Napoleon's Egyptian war of 1798. The building was constructed in 1835 as a museum. The architect is thought to be John Foulston from Plymouth. It is similar to a museum in Piccadilly, London which was built in 1812 and based on the Temple of Hat-hor at Dendra in Egypt. Egyptian House was built for John Lavin, a mineralologist from Penzance. He lived here for many years, and when he died, his son sold it. Years later it was given to Oxford University Museum (I am unable to find any record of this)

Chapel Street has the old inns, The Turks Head and the Admiral Benbow, it is also the street where Maria Branwell, the aunt of the Bronte sisters was born.

Penzance has a statue to Sir Humphry Davy, the inventor of the Davy lamp, who was born here. The statue stands in front of the Market Hall. Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) invented the miners safety lamp in 1801.

Penlee House Gallery in the centre of Penzance which has extensive displays of local archaeological artifacts and a range of exhibits illustrating the life and social history of West Cornwall. The building has been completely refurbished, but every attempt has been made to retain the character of a mid-Victorian villa.

Nearby are Tregwainton gardens (National Trust) and Drift Reservoi

Penzance operates Ferries and helicopters to the Scilly Isles.

Penzance, Cornwall genealogical information at Genuki

Morrab Library has a lot of useful information on history and genealogy with more than 40,000 volumes and is strong in literature, history, biography, antiquities, topography and travel and religion.

And a Penzance local history

Penzance as It Was in 1897: A Complete Pictorial Guide


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