The West of the town

Going westward on the left hand of Alverne Lane, at present called Alverton Street, were several low thatched houses now all removed; but those from opposite Clarence Street (west) are just the same as they were in 1825. On the right-hand side one soon came to a granite-fronted house, the lower part of which was and is still covered with myrtle. For very many years this has been the residence of the Pascoe family, and the appearance of the house has not changed since I first saw it. At the back is a large garden running behind Clarence Street, and on one side abutting on Causewayhead; in front of the house, on the opposite side of the road, is a piece of ground covered with shrubs, and enclosed with an iron railing; this belongs to the same property, and I have been told was retained by the builder for the sake of the sea view, which before the building of the North and South Parades must have been very fine.

Where Clarence Street opens was the Old House described by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice: it was taken down in 1824–5, and in 1826 Clarence Street was laid out. The Western Hotel was the first house built, the other part of the street was not completed for more than twenty years after; the church at the top was built at the sole expense of the Rev. Henry Batten, and opened in 1844; the Baptist Chapel in the same street was completed in 1836. Next came several low houses, and the field now covered by the Public Buildings. In this field, named Parc-an-Vounder (the lane field), a temporary church was erected while the present St. Mary’s Church was being built. In the open space now reached, the Corpus Christi Fair was held for many years; until being found very inconvenient, and a great annoyance to the neighbouring houses, it was moved, for one year only, to the ground since covered by Mount Street; after that it was held for a considerable time in the field covered by the Public Buildings; it has since gone to three other fields. At one time the fair was about the Market Place, and through all the changes some confectioner’s stalls still take a position against the south-west corner of the market. A show or two frequently used to establish themselves opposite the Star Hotel.

The open space in Alverton is not of ancient date. At the beginning of this century there were two narrow lanes leading westward, the space between them being filled up by a blacksmith’s shop. The house now belonging to Mrs. Bellringer in 1825 was inhabited by Captain Gudgeon, RN. A garden was at one time before this house, and I dare say before the others, but they had all disappeared when I came to Penzance. Mrs. Gudgeon used to express herself strongly about educating servants. “Bother your education, bye and bye the servants behind your chairs will be correcting your grammar;” this was related to me in 1876 by a lady, who observed, “and it is come to pass.”

Wellington Place and Terrace, Herbier House, Bellair House, Alverne Hill, and Alverton Vean. were all built from 1812–1823 mostly before 1820. Herbier was in the possession of Mr. Boase, who was a great supporter of the Wesleyans; and when an organ was determined on for the chapel he was chosen to buy it, accordingly he is one of the characters introduced into the Canorum Conclave. The cottage. now West Lodge, has been built long since 1825, likewise Trevear and some other houses on the north side. Alverton Vean was built by Mr. T. F. Barham, whose father for many years resided at Leskinnick. Hawke’s cottage, tradition says, was once the home of Admiral Pellew (Lord Exmouth). Captain Coffin built Alverton Cottage, and on this account it was called by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice “Sepulchre Hall.” In it have lived a Mr. Collins, an artist, and for many years Mrs. William Peel, who took great pleasure in her garden, and introduced into it many foreign shrubs not usually grown in England in the open air.

The Orchard was erected by Mr. Sam John, solicitor. Alverton House, built about two hundred years ago, has undergone many alterations and enlargements. These three last houses are on the lands of the Hawkin’s family. Between the gardens of the Orchard and Alverton House was for many years a woollen cloth manufactory. but this gradually died away, and finally came to an end in 1830. Alverton on the right, after passing the houses, has been much changed; there was a field, not separated from the road by any hedge, commencing where Polwithen Ledge now stands, and then came a narrow pathway with trees on both sides, ending near Alverton House, at the town boundary, in a picturesque stile. This pathway was much higher than the present terrace. After some time it was cut down and the road widened, but this did not happen until I had been in Penzance many years; in fact the road was not much wanted, as the carriage traffic was very little, and the copper ores, etc., from St. Just, were brought to town for shipment on mules’ backs. Hichens, of Lanyon, kept a large number of mules for that purpose.

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