Penzance, in Cornish, Pensans, is a thriving town in the far west of Cornwall, lying on Cornwall's south coast.
Penzance has a great charm and atmosphere and is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year. It has a mild climate and this can be seen in the variety of sub tropical plants and trees which can be found growing in the town's Morrab Gardens.
Chapel Street is a delightful old street with many historic buildings and a very unusual one, the Egyptian House, so named because of its unique facade. Many of Penzance's oldest pubs are found on Chapel Street and it has some interesting specialist shops.
Penzance's first theatre was established here in the late 1700s. Unfortunately, the Georgian theatre closed its doors in 1831 after a decline in the popularity of theatrical performances brought about in part by the rise of Methodism which considered such things frivolous. The building still exists and with the establishment of the Friends of the Georgian Theatre, Penzance in 1986, it is hoped that one day the theatre may be restored to its original function.
The name Penzance is derived from the Cornish words 'pen' meaning 'headland' and 'sans' meaning 'holy'.
As an important harbour town for centuries, Penzance has a long tradition of welcoming visitors from all parts of the world. Not only does Penzance host holiday visitors, it has also become a popular centre for cultural exchange visits, in particular through the organisation, Experiment in International Living (EIL).
For many years now groups of young people from countries as culturally diverse as Japan and the U.S. have come to stay with local families in the Penzance area to enjoy a taste of the Cornish way of life and what Cornwall has to offer, taking their experiences home with them and maintaining links with the families and friends they have made here.
Penzance holds a number of festivals each year, the most important being Golowan in June and Montol in December. Please follow the links for more details.
Penlee House is West Cornwall's centre for Art and Heritage, home to the collections of Penzance Town Council, Penwith District Council and Newlyn Art Gallery
Penzance has a fine Art Deco outdoor swimming pool - Jubilee Pool - located on the Promenade.
The name Penzance (Pensans) is thought to derive from the Cornish words 'pen' meaning 'headland' and 'sans' meaning 'holy', named after the chapel of St Mary. Other sources state that the name is from a chapel dedicated to St Anthony. Pre 12th century, nothing is known of the town and borough of Penzance but it is believed that it was just a cluster of huts occupied by fishermen. In the 13th century it appears in records relating to the establishment of a chantry here to St Mary.
In the mid 16th century, Penzance, like many other towns of that period was affected by plague - the black death. Madron church records show numerous burials from this sickness in the summer of 1578. At the end of the 16th century, Penzance was to suffer an attack from part of the Spanish Armada. The Spaniards stormed Penzance, burning and ransacking it before retiring to their galleys moored in Mount's Bay. Before they were able to return, Cornish forces under Sir Francis Godolphin, regrouped and were able to repel their next attempt at landing.
Within twenty years Penzance was rebuilt and in 1614, after petitioning King James I, Penzance was granted a Charter and incorporated as a borough. Penzance's long and interesting history continued, playing its part in the Civil War, where it stood for the King against Cromwell's Parliamentarians.
Sir Humphry Davy, the famous chemist and inventor of the miners' safety lamp was born here. His statue stands at the top of Market Jew Street in front of the Market House.
Penzance has a full range of shopping facilities with famous high street names side by side with unique and specialist local shops. There are many cafe-bars, galleries, interesting historic pubs and a fine selection of restaurants.
A wide range of excellent accommodation is available with something to suit every budget. For more information on local businesses, visitor attractions and places to stay, please see the links below.
ATM / Cash Points
There are many ATMs in Penzance with all of the major banks represented and a Link cash point. They can be found on Market Jew Street, Alverton Street, Market Place, Wharf Road (outside the Wharfside Shopping Centre) and other locations. Do you have information of a historic or community interest about Penzance which you would like featured on this page please email us with your information.
On the South coast of Cornwall. For those travelling by road, Penzance is easily accessible from the A30.
Penzance Train Station is the terminus for rail travellers with First Great Western and CrossCountry trains terminating here. Express Coach services operate to and from Penzance to all parts of the country. Please see Travelling to and Around Cornwall