Helston from Coronation Lake
Helston from Coronation Lake

History of Helston

From the History of Cornwall by William Hals c. 1750.

Helston is situate in the hundred of Kerryer, and hath upon the east, Gwendron ; west Sythney and the Loo pool ; south, Maugan, and Gunwallo.

That this was a privileged place, and the voke lands of a manor, with court leet, before the Norman Conquest, I make no doubt, since the whole hundred of Kerryer, in King Alfred's days, was in chief dominated from it. Besides this testimony, in Domesday Roll, 20 William I. 1087, we read by the name Henliston, it was then taxed.


Moreorer Brooke York Herald, tells us, temp. James I. in the Catalogue of Cornish Earls, that the privileges of this town or manor were concerted into a charter, and incorporated by Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cornwall, 3d son of King Henry II. surnamed Cur-lyon, from his lion-like heart, in the name of Helleston, as appeared from the charter, which he had then in his custody, to the seal whereof was affixed a lion rampant. It was also made one of the four coinage towns by King Edward I. in his charter to the Tinners, by the same name. As also incorporated into the Duchy of Cornwall, by the same name 1336, when King Edward III. to his son the Black Prince promoted or translated the Earldom of Cornwall into a Duchy or Dukedom.

Stannary Town

Whereby this town is also confirmed to be the voke lands of the manors or stannaries of Helston and Kerryer, (i.e. Hall, Broad Town, and Lover,) and privileged with a Court Leet, wberein all pleas of debt and damage between party and party, concerning tin matters, are tried by a jury of six men, before the Vice Warden and Steward of the Stannaries, (under the Lord Warden thereof,) life, land, and limb excepted. It is also privileged with a Court Leet before the tribunal of the Mayor and Aldermen, and Quarterly Sessions of the Peace, and sending two members to Parliament ; markets weekly on Saturday ; fairs on August 29, October 28, Saturday before Mid-lent Sunday, Saturday before Palm Sunday, Whitsun Monday, and two fairs before S. Thomas à Becket's day.

Mayor and Corporation

Moreover these privileges were confirmed and enlarged by charters temp. Queen Elizabeth and King Charles I. by the name of the Mayor and Burgesses, who consist of a Mayor (who is a Justice of the Peace for the Borough, the year succeeding his Mayoralty), and four Aldermen, who elect as many Common Councilmen as make their number twelve.

Their Members of Parliament are elected by the majority of the freemen, and returned by the Mayor, to whom the precept on the writ for election must be thus directed, as well as that for removing an action depending in the Leet of Helston to a superior Court :—

Majori et Burgensibus Burgi nostri de Helleston in Comitatu Cornubioe, salutem.

Not far from this town stands the ruins of an old camp, or intrenchment, called Castle Werre, or Wera, an old fort or citadel to defend it from its enemies' invasion.

Arms of Helston

The arms of which town are Argent, a castle or house garreted on the top thereof, between two watch-towers, the Archangel S. Michael fighting with a dragon, or the devil.

That King Edward I. frequented this place for delight or pleasure, or designed so to do, upon the death of his uncle Richard Earl of Cornwall, King of the Romans, when the Earldom of Cornwall reverted to himself, in right of his crown of England, Anno Dom. 1272, h evident from his granting lands by the tenure of grand sergeantry to William de Treville, on condition of bringing a fish-hook and a boat and net, at his own proper costs and charges, for the king's fishing in the lake of Helston, whensoever the king should come to Helston, and as long as he should tarry there.

Notable Inhabitants

The chief inhabitants of this coinage town for tin are Mr. Penrose, Mr. Polkinhorne, Mr. Hooker, attorney at law, Mr. Williams, Mr. Rowe, Mr. Burges, Mr. Pinock, and others.

In the Inquisition of the Bishops of Lincoln and Winchester, into the value of Cornish Benefices, 1294, the church of Helston is not named, but passed then under the title of its mother or superior church, Gwendron, into which it was Consolidated, £17 6s. 8d. ; in Wolsey's Inquisition, by the name of Wendron and Helston, £26 19s. 3d. ; both endowed I suppose, by the Master or Governor of S. John's Hospital at Sythney, who were patrons thereof till the 6th Henry VIII, when it was dissolved, now Jago ; the incumbent Jago; and the town or parish of Helston rated to the 4s. per pound Land Tax, 1696, £181 9s. 4d.

In the year 1727 happened in those parts astonishing claps of thunder and lightning, which in fine broke down and tore in pieces tbe greatest part of this town's church and tower, and did it damage to the value of two or three hundred pounds in repair thereof.

More Recent History

Coronation Lake, Helston's attractive boating lake, was constructed in the early part of the 20th century to commemorate the coronation of George V and opened on the 20th July 1912 by the then Mayor of Helston, Francis Henry Cunnack.

The park and lake saw numerous events in their early years including water carnivals and a range of water sports. The original island provided a perfect view for spectators. Local schools used the pool for swimming lessons.

Into the 1960s, a grand firework display was held at the Coronation Lake at end of the annual Harvest Fair.

The free car park known as the Fair Ground opposite the Coronation Lake was the home of Helston's first swimming pool built in 1974. The pool was demolished in 1981 after it cracked numerous times due to movement in its foundations, it having been built on former marshland and Helston's first refuse tip. Different to most swimming pools, it had two shallow ends with the deepest area in the centre.



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Helston - Coinagehall Street
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