The chief attractive feature of Penzance, and the just pride of its polished inhabitants, are the S. John’s Public Buildings; these were erected in 1867-8, from the designs of Mr. John Matthews, the borough surveyor, and at a cost of about £12000.

This elegant structure, built in the Italian style, comprises a main body and side wings; to the former, which embodies the chief entrance, there is access by a noble flight of granite steps. The frontage is wholly built of fine granite ashlar of the best description, and protected by handsome and substantial iron railing.

The internal arrangement is admirably adapted for the several purposes for which the buildings were intended;—S. John’s Hall, for general purposes; a Guildhall; a County Court hall; local Board-room; lecture and music hall; a Masonic hall; a natural history Museum; the public Library, which comprises about 12000 volumes; news room; chess club; Jury and Council rooms; and police and other offices.

The west wing is appropriated to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, its museum, laboratories, and library.

Another attractive feature of the town is the Esplanade; this is one of the most interesting sea-side walks in the west of England, embracing a magnificent scope of land and water scenery. At the junction of a roadway stands a granite pedestal, aptly utilized into a drinking fountain; one of its aides bears the following inscription:—


Penzance was almost wholly supplied with water, for a considerable period, by the rivulet from Madron well; and a reservoir was made in 1751, at a cost of £402 14s 7¼d. The modern reservoirs are situated near Trengwainton, and occupy a space of from six to seven acres; they afford a constant supply of good water.

In 1809 the Penzance Public Dispensary was established, for providing medical and surgical relief for any poor persons, except domestic servants, paupers, and members of friendly societies. In 1854 a Miss Stone bequeathed the sum of £1500 to the use of this institution, subject to the discretion of her trustees.

There are various banks in the town. The “Penzance bank,” the property of Messrs. Batten, Carne and Co., situate in the Market Place; and the “Mount’s Bay Commercial bank,” the property of Messrs. Bolitho Sons and Co., in Market-Jew-street. The buildings in which the business of these banks is transacted, especially the latter, are of a superior description; the offices are spacious and well-arranged, and they display elaborately sculptured granite frontages. There is a “Savings bank” in Parade-street; and a “Loan and Deposit bank” in Prince’s-street.

Penzance is governed under the provisions of the Municipal Corporation Reform Act, of 5 and 6 William IV., 1835; and under the 2 and 3 William IV., 1832, it was made one of the polling-places for the Western division of the county.

In October, 1813, as some workmen were removing the stone floor of an old house near the quay, they found a human skeleton. The premises had anciently been a public house, and it was remembered by some aged persons that a sailor who had a plenty of money, and who had been in the habit of frequenting it, was suddenly missing, and was thought to have been murdered. The house had long been unoccupied, from a report that it was haunted.

Near the lodge adjoining Castle Horneck gate is a fine chalybeate spring; but there being many of the same description in the district, little notice is taken of it. A well-engraved token of Philip Lanyon, who was mayor of Penzance, in 1650, was ploughed up in the neighbourhood; it bore the arms of Lanion, and the inscription,—P. L. IN PENZANCE. An ancient tin smelting place called a Jew’s house, was discovered on Trereife barton, in which was found a slab of tin of 261bs. weight; it was marked E. I. C. in Roman letters, and bore the figure of a cross.

By the roadside near the farm of Boswarthen is an ancient wayside cross, 3 feet 3 inches high; on one side is a Latin cross, and on the other a Maltese. In the “Cross field” at Boscathnoe is a roughly made Latin cross; and on the estate of Tremethick is another of a similar description.

Poltair House is situated immediately below Madron churchtown; the present decorated house was built by Mr. Richard Hichens of St. Ives, who married one of the daughters and coheiresses of Mr. George Veale, and whose family had for sometime owned the place. By him or his heirs it was sold to Dr. Scobell, whose representatives sold it to the present proprietor, Russell Howell, Esq.

Treneere was formerly a seat of the family of Oliver. The last of this family, William Oliver, M.D., died at Bath in 1764; and another William Oliver, M.D., accompanied William III. to the English shores, Treneere was sold soon after 1764 to Nr. Robyns, who built a mansion on it; it afterwards became the property of the Rev. Anthony Williams, vicar of S. Keverne, and it passed in marriage with one of his daughters and coheireases to Henry Pendarves Tremenheere, Esq., late a captain E.I.C.S.

Lariggan, the residence of Walter Borlase, Esq., is remarkable for its beautiful situation; the house was built by Thomas Pascoe, Esq., a highly respected magistrate.

Rosehill, the residence of Louis Vigurs, Esq., was built early in the present century by Richard Oxnam, Esq., sheriff in 1810. It afterwards became the property and residence of the Rev. Uriah Tonkin, the recently deceased vicar of Lelant.

Rosecadghill or Rosecadgwell, has been for a considerable time the property of the Borlases. John Borlase, Esq,, of Pendeen, father of the two Dr. Borlases, removed to this place in his later years. Samuel Borlase, Esq., the heir of this ancient family, a1so resided here; his representatives are the present proprietors. John Tremenheere, Esq., resided here for some years previous to his death in 1825.

York House occupies a commanding position; it was built by a Mr. Pope of Camelford. He conducted a business for some time at Bristol, from whence he emigrated to the United States, where he gained a large fortune, unknown and forgotten by his family. He afterwards returned to Penzance, recognized some of his relatives, and having purchased a few acres of ground, he built a good house thereon which became generally known as the Vatican.

Mr. Pope scarcely lived to inhabit his new mansion; and bequeathed it to his nephew Mr. Vibert, a patriotic member of the corporation of Penzance. York House is now the property of the representatives of the late John-Pope Vibert, Esq.

Beside the several gentlemen’s seats already spoken of, and the modern palatial residences of the Bolitho family, there are many other handsome villa residences in and around Penzance, every one commanding, more or less, fine views of the surrounding interesting scenery.

The village of Hea Moor, is situated about a mile to the north of Penzance; in it is the noted Wesley Rock chapel, school, and cemetery, belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists. The pulpit of the chapel stands on a rock which was formerly situated nearly in the centre of a common, from which the Rev. John Wesley frequently addressed the multitudes that thronged to hear him when he was prevented from preaching in Penzance. A marble tablet attached to the rock bears this inscription,—“On this rock Mr. Wesley and others preach’d the gospel of Christ, A.D. 1743 to 1760. Luke 14 c. 23 v. W. Pengelly.” On the front of the chapel, which is licensed for marriage, is inscribed,—Wesley Rock Chapel, built A.D. 1842, Land given by the late Henry Pengelly.” The adjoining cemetery is large, and thickly studded with monuments, tablets, and tombs. Another chapel, a substantial structure, has this inscription,—”Bible Christian Chapel, A.D. 1865.”

The Wesleyan Methodists have chapels also at Bosullow, with schools; at Newbridge; at Boswarthen; and at Tregavara. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel in the Churchtown.

The villages are,—Madron Churchtown, Jamaica, Hea, Hea Moor, Bosullow, and part of Chyandour. The little village of Wherrytown is within the borough of Penzance.

The chief landowners comprise the names of the Bolithos, D. P. Le Grice, Borlase, and Rashleigh of Menabilly, Esquires.

The shores of Penzance are somewhat rocky.—In 1850, the Trinity House erected iron cylinders surmounted with red balls, showing 15 feet above high water, One on the Ryeman and the other on the Western Cressers, two half-tide rocks. Many years before the late Dr. Penneck erected a pole on the Gear, another half-tide rock.

A large portion of the parish is situated on granite, the boundary line of which extends from near the church, in a semi-circular form, to Buryas Bridge. South of this line the parish consists of felspar, hornblend, and actynolite rocks, all of which occur both in massive and in schistose forms. A fine instance of the latter may be seen at the back of Penzance quay, and may be traced for some distance in a westerly direction on the sea shore below high water mark. About half-way to Newlyn another bed of parphyry, or an irregular continuation of the former, was some years since explored for tin, and became the celebrated Wherry mine, yieldng not only a large quantity of tin, so as to afford profit after paying the expenses of a steam engine, but also beautiful specimens of rare metallic minerals.

The Wherry mine was a submarine adventure near Wherry town; it was abandoned in 1798 and remained idle until 1836, when the working was resumed, but failed to pay.

Every part of the parish appears to be intersected with metalliferous veins; some copper and small quantities of lead have been raised but tin is the only metal that has yet proved of importance.

On the northern part of the parish there are hundreds of acres of land worth no more than from 2s. 6d. to 10s. 6d. per acre; on the southern are many acres which let freely at from £5 to £12 per acre.

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