The most westerly town in England, is a seaport, situate on the north-west side of Mounts Bay, distant 280 miles from London, 109 from Exeter, and 10 from the Land’s End; it is a chapelry, in the parish of Madron, western division of Penwith Hundred, deanery of Penwith, archdeaconry of Cornwall, bishopric of Exeter, West Cornwall. The name of the town is said to be derived from the “Holy Headland,” a chapel having formerly stood on the point near where the present pier stands. In later days this place was denominated “Bariton,” or Castle Town. The Barbican cellars, near the quay, denote where once the castle stood. In 1595 (July) a party of Spaniards landed at Mousehole, and having laid waste that village and Newlyn, commenced an attack on Penzance, and destroyed it by fire, and then retired in their galleys. In 1646 this town was sacked by Fairfax.

Penzance was first incorporated in 1614, which charter was confirmed by Charles II. Other charters have since been granted, and by the Municipal Act (1835) the corporation, was vested in a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors, and denominated “the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of Penzance.” When it became necessary to adopt arms for the borough, the origin of its name was apparently overlooked, and the head of St. John the Baptist, on a charger, was emblazoned. The town extends about half a mile east and west, and is divided into wards. The streets generally are handsome, well paved, and lighted with gas.

The Town or Guild Hall is a building of granite, in the Doric style, and stands upon the site of the old market-place, at the top of Market Jew-street; it was built in 1837. Surmounting the building, and in the centre, is a handsome dome, the interior of which is used for the Natural History and Antiquarian Societies’ Museum; and from this room the finest views around Penzance are to be seen. Immediately beneath the dome is the Butchers’ Market, which is spacious and well regulated; there are 54 stands. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, are market days; but Thursday is the chief market. The Guildhall or justice-room is to the front of the building, approached by a flight of steps, covered over with an Ionic trastyle portico, in which is an illuminated clock; this room is used for holding the sessions, county courts, and for all magisterial business. The police offices and council chambers adjoin; in the latter there is a painting representing “the Daughter of Herodias receiving from a page the head of St. John the Baptist on a charger.” In another portion of the room is a painting by a native artist, the subject is “the Departure of the Queen and Prince Albert from St. Michael’s Mount, 6th September, 1846;” it is a spirited painting, and most of the figures are portraits.

In 1772 the western arm of the pier was built; its foundation is upon a vein of felspar porphyry, which at low water is exposed to view. Upwards of £30,000 have lately been expended upon the pier by the Town Council. A new lighthouse has been erected on the extremity of the eastern extension; the light is a dioptric of the fifth order; its elevation is 33 feet above high water, at ordinary spring tides, the light by night, and a black ball by day, are exhibited only when there is 15 feet depth of water at the pier head, which is eight hours out of twelve. The principal trade consists in the importation of coals, timber, tallow, hemp, iron, corn, flour, bale goods, groceries &c.; the exports are tin, copper, fish and large quantities of granite. The pilchard fishery is carried on to a considerable extent in the adjoining neighourhood of St. Paul and Newlyn. The battery rocks, westward, are composed of greenstone.

The Poultry and Butter Market is in Princes street, a large building. The Fish Market is in the Market Jew-stret, immediately opposite to the front entrance to the Guildhall, and is extremely unsightly.

The parish church is at Madron, 1 mile north. The church of St. Mary, in Chapel-street, is a chapel of ease to Madron. It was rebuilt in 1834, and is an extremely handsome building in the second and third pointed style or achitecture, and pinnacled, and has a lofty tower containing only 1 bell; the interior is very spacious [and] handsomely decorated; the ceilings are arched and panelled in blue, and ornamented with gildings; there are three aisles, nave, chancel, and north, south, and west galleries—in the latter there is a fine organ; the altar window is entirely of stained glass. The chapel of St. Paul in Clarence-street has been lately built at the expense of W. Batten, Esq., cost £5,000; it is in the early English style of architecture, nearly approaching the decorated style of the thirteenh century, and built entirely of granite; in the interior, which is small, are one aisle, two transepts, chancel, and lectern; the pulpit is carved out of one solid block of granite, and the communion rail and steps are of the same material; the windows are all of handsomely stained glass, which offers a subdued light; the altar window, which was a gift, cost £400, and is remarkably chaste; the roof is fine and open, and the principal beams are gilt. The organ is placed in a niche at the east end of the south transept, and, with the choristers, nearly hid from observation. The Roman Catholic chapel at Rosevean, is a fine edifice, but only partially completed. The baptist chapel, in Clarence street, is a substantial building in the Norman style of architecture. There are chapels for Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, Society of Friends, Bible Christians, Jordan Baptists, and a synagogue.

The dispensary in Chapel-street is ably supported by volutary contributions, and is efficiently attended and conducted.

In a large building in Parade-street, is the Public Subscription Library, the Institute News-room, and the Savings Bank.

The Royal Geological Society, in North-parade, was established in 1814 by Dr. Paris, then resident in this town, who was aided by the nobility, gentry, and mine agents of the county; it now ranks amongst the most distinguished institutions in the kingdom. In connexion there is an elegant and extensive museum and library; and in the room below stairs is a private subscription news-room.

Cattle markets are held on the third Thursday in January, February, April, July, August, October, and December; and fairs are held on the 25th of March, 1st and 22nd of May, 8th of September, and 27th of November.

The Grammar school, in Princes-street, is supported by the town and corporation.

The Public Baths, on the Esplanade, is a neat and commodious building, replete with every convenience and comfort; there are warm, cold, shower, fresh and salt water baths; also waiting and reading rooms, and library for the use of subscribers. At each end of the baths, and communicating therewith, is a respectable lodging house.

The railway station is at the east end of the town for the West Cornwall Railway—open from Penzance to Truro

A Mail (sailing) packet leaves twice a week for the Isles of Scilly, when the weather will permit. The distance to St. Mary’s, Scilly, is about 40 miles.

Mount’s Bay is a large expanse of sea bounded by Tol Pedn Penwith on the west, and the Lizard on the east; it is noted for its invariable mild and even climate. The principal feature in the bay is St. Michael’s Mount. There are numerous delightful walks around Penzance; and the locality is generally prescribed to invalids suffering from pulmonary complaints.

Lord Exmouth, Mr. Davies Gilbert, and Sir Humphry Davy, were born in this town. The last, by his will, bequeathed the sum of £100 to the Grammar school conditionally on the schollars beng allowed an annual holiday on the anniversary of his birthday.

On the 23rd and 28th of June, an ancient custom is observed in the celebration of the eves of St. John and St. Peter. Towards sunset, the inhabitants assemble in the principle thoroughfares, and kindle immense tar barrels at all conspicuous places; after these are consumed, the populace run hand in hand furiously through the streets, bearing blazing torches, and crying out, “An eye, an eye.” At length two of the party clap hands and form an eye, through which the whole thread of people pass; this is repeated again and again until a late hour. The following day is spent in water-parties, and all kinds of outdoor amusements.

The population of Penzance is 9,214.


Angwin, Mrs. Elizabeth, Chapel street

Armstrong Rev. Jas. B.A. Penare house

Arthur Henry, esq. 5 Penrose terrace

Aubyn Mrs. St. Alverton terrace

Barnes Mrs. Eliza, 10 Regent’s terrace

Baynard Mrs. Ann, 3 Clarence terrace

Batten Rev. Henry. M.A. vicar

Batten John, esq. Chapel street

Batten Mrs. Lydia, Alverton terrace

Bedford Delbouf Baker, esq. 2 Clarnce. pl

Berriman Mr. Nicholas, 1 St. Mary’s ter

Berryman Thomas, Alverton street

Bettany Mr. George, 5 Morrab place

Birt Mrs. Cornwall terrace

Boase Miss Alice, 4 Clarence terrace

Boase Mrs. Henry, Alverton road

Boase John Josiah Arthur, esq. Alverton Vean

Bodilly Misses, Alverton road

Bodilly Mr. Thomas, 23 North parade

Bolitho Richard, esq. the Cliff

Bolitho Thomas, esq. Coombe

Bolitho William, jun. esq., Alvern hill

Borlase Walter, esq. Lariggan

Bosustow Mrs Mary, 25 North parade

Bothell Mr. 4 St. Mary’s terrace

Bowman Richd. H. esq. 18 North parade

Branwell Robert, esq. 1 North parade

Branwell Mr. Robert, Regent’s Square

Broad Mrs. Grace, 18 Clarence street

Broad Mrs. Margaret, Chapel street

Bromley Mrs. Grace, 3 North parade

Brown John C. esq. 7 Regent’s terrace

Burney[?] Henry D. R.N. 4 Morrab place

Burnstow[?] Capt. Chapel street

Campbell Vivian, esq. Lanowarth house

Carne Joseph, esq. Chapel street

[obscured] Charles Pearson, esq. 1 Tre[obscured]a terrace

[obscured] [Mrs.] Jane, 19 North parade

[Church?] [obscured]lent Jno. R.N. 12 Regent’s ter

[Clan?]maris Lady, 15 Clarence street

[obscured]y Henry, esq. 3 St. Michael’s terrace

Cock Mrs. Orpah, Alverton terrace

Cock Mrs. Rebecca, 7 Clarence street

Cook Rev. Corbet [Wesleyan], 6 St. Mary’s terrace

Cornish Thomas, esq. 4 Clarence place

Couch Richard Q. esq. Chapel street

Coulson Miss Mary, 9 Regent’s terrace

Coulson Thomas, esq. Penare

Coulson William, esq. Medrose cottage

Cunnick Mr. Edwin, 2 Belle vue ter

Dark Thomas, esq. the Orchard

Davey Humphrey, esq. Market Jew st

Davey Richard V. esq. Chapel street

Davies Rowland, esq. 1 St. Michael’s ter

Davies Rowland Augustus G. esq. St. Michael’s terrace

Davy Mrs. Catherine, Market Jew st

Davy Mr. Edmund, 15 North parade

Denbigh Mr. George, 3 Belle vue terrace

Dennis Mr. Richard, 2 Wellington ter

Dodge Wm. Henry, esq. Market Jew st

Dryburgh Mrs. 5 St. Mary’s terrace

Eddy Miss Mary, Cornwall terrace

Eden Capt. Henry, R.N. 13 Clarence st

Edmonds Fredk. esq. M.D. 4 North parad

Edwards Mrs. Wilmott, 5 Clarence pl

Ellery Rev. thos. [Wsleyn.], St. Clare ter

Ellis Capt. John, 1 Wellington terrace

Giddy Miss, 11 Clarence street

Giles Rev. Thomas [Methodist], 13 Leskinick terrace

Green Capt. Joseph, Regent square

Gregory Mrs. Maria, the Abbey

Grenfell Mrs. Caroline, 2 Trewartha ter

Grylls Rev. Thomas Glyn, M.A. Richmond cottage

Guy Mr. Charles Robert, Regent sq

Hamilton John, esq. 6 Clarence street

Harvey Mr. William, Chapel street

Harvey William George, esq. North st

Henwood William John, esq. Clarence place

Hewett Richard, esq. Alv[obscured]

Hewett [obscured] T[obscured]

Heynes Mr. Thomas, 2 St. Michael’s ter

Higgs George, esq. 12 Penrose terrace

Higgs Samuel, esq. Alverton road

Hocking Miss Honor, 8 St. Mary’s ter

Hocking Mr. James, Brighton terrace

Hosking Mr. Richard, Cornwall terrace

Jenkins Rev. Joseph [Baptist], Clarence street

John Misses, Chapel street

Kemp Mr. John, 8 Belle vue terrace

Kernahan Rev. James [Independent] 1 Morrab place

Laffan Rev. William [Catholic], Rosevean

Lawrence Mr. John, Chapel street

Leah Mrs. Ellen, 2 North parade

Legg Capt. Stephen, Quay street

Legoe Mrs. Joannah, 4 Belle vue terrace

Ley Edwin, esq. Alverton house

Longlands Miss Margaret J. Alverton terrace

Magor Martin, esq. Chapel street

Marrack Mrs. Mary, Regent square

Marrack Philip, esq. 12 Clarence street

Marriott Edmund C. esq. Poltair

Mathews William D. Cornwall terrace

Matthews Capt. John, 1 Clarence place

Merriott Edmund C. esq. Poltair, Madron

Michell Miss Ann, 4 Wellington terrace

Michell Mrs. Mary, 2 Penrose terrace

Millett Misses, 5 Clarence terrace

Millett Mrs. Jane, Chapel street

Millett John, esq. Market Jew street

Millett Miss Louisa, Chapel street

Millett Miss Louisa, 14 Clarence street

Millett Mrs. N. 2 Morrab place

Millett Richard, esq. Parade street

Mitchell Mrs. Elizabeth, 8 Regent’s ter

Mitchell Mrs. 4 Wellington place

Montgomery James, esq. M.D. 27 North parade

[Mon]tgomery James Barclay, esq. [obscured] [N]orth parade

[obscured]e Rev. Cha[rles] [obscured]

More about Penzance

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