St Hilary

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St Hilary, in Cornish, Gorlynn, is a parish and village with a churchtown.

A rural parish yet only a few miles from Marazion and Penzance, St Hilary has an interesting history and was once a bustling farming and mining area with a population more than three times than it is today. In 1841 the population of St Hilary was 3649 people.

Wheal Fortune and Penberthy Crofts are just two of the successful mines which were worked in St Hilary. In 1983 Penberthy Crofts was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.due to it being the most important location in the whole of Britain for secondary ore minerals of arsenic, copper and lead.

The parish church is dedicated to the 4th century bishop, St Hilary of Poitiers, a pagan who converted to Christianity. He is known for his work on the Trinity.is most important work was that on the Trinity. His Feast day is celebrated on January 13th.

Its 13th century, one-stage tower has survived several rebuilds over the centuries and is a famous local landmark with its 39 ft spire making it almost 79 feet in height and 269 feet above sea level, allowing it and can be seen by mariners from the sea. It used to be whitewashed for this purpose. The church built in the reign of Henry VIII, consisted of a nave, chancel, two side aisles, a tower and spire. On Good Friday in 1853 the church was severely damaged by a fire, leaving only the tower and the spire.

It was rebuilt following he same layout and consecrated in 1855. It has a north and south door and a priest's door. Its tower has 3 bells. It is a Grade I listed building. Its pulpit was decorated by Ernest Procter, the famous Newlyn Artist. The church had a chapelry at Marazion.

In the 1930s the church fell into disuse but since the 1970s a group of people, known as the Friends of St Hilary, have been responsible for restoring the church, replacing its roof and this work continues.

St Hilary's vicars have included Malachy Hitchins, who was also an astronomer, Thomas Pascoe, who was the incumbent for 56 years and Father Bernard Walke, the author of several religious texts and an autobiography, Twenty Years at St Hilary.

Fortescue Hitchins, author of a History of Cornwall, was born here to Malachy Hitchins and Denys Val Baker, another author famous for many novels and as the editor of the Cornish Review, lived at the Old Vicarage until 1954.

In 1796, St Hilary experienced an earthquake.

St Hilary parish formerly included the town of Marazion until 1813. Since Marazion left the parish, St Hilary consists only of a number of hamlets with no commercial centre. These settlements include: Carter’s Downs, Chynoweth, Churchtown, Colenso, Greenberry, Hallamaning, Millpool, Plain-an-Gwarry, Prussia Cove, Relubbus, Rosudgeon, Tregurtha, Trevean, Treveneage, Trewhella and Woodstock.

The elevated position of the parish offers views to St Ives Bay on the north coast and Mount's Bay to the south.

During the 1920s and '30s a childrens' home was situated in St Hilary, housed in an old public house, The Jolly Tinners. The home housed poor children from London.

Local folklore tells that the ghost of Rev. John Penneck, Chancellor of Exeter, who died in 1724, creates great storms in this area.


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