Truro Cathedral from the River
Truro Cathedral from the River

History of Truro


The capital of the county, and principal mart for its products, " fish, tin, and copper, " is a town of considerable antiquity, and most probably derives its name from the Cornish word Truru, " three streets," which was originally an appropriate designation, although another derivation, identifies it with Treve-ren, or Trevu, the castle on the water.

No town appears to have received more benefit from modern improvement, as its present widened, well paved, and lighted streets testify. The many handsome shops, rows of genteel residences and detached villas, are quite in keeping with its metropolitan pretensions.

The population is about 11,000, and it is a market town and borough, in the western division of the hundred of Powder. The town itself is within three parishes, the central part being in the small parish of St. Mary, and the two extre mities in the parishes of St. Clement and Kenwyn. It is situated in a valley, at the confluence of the two small rivers, Allan and Kenwyn, and at the head of a branch of the Falmouth river, denominated Truro Creek, which is navigable for vessels of 120 tons burthen.

The town appears to have been incorporated as early as the time of Henry I., but some writers say not until the reign of King John, who made it a coinage town for tin. In 1589, Queen Elizabeth renewed the charter for incorporation, which was superseded by the Municipal Act of 1835. It is now governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen council lors, and divided into two wards. The earliest representatives to the imperial parliament appeared in the 23rd Edward I.

Truro formerly possessed some manufactories of woollen goods, paper, &c. ; but these are now discontinued. There are three smelting houses in the vicinity, where great quantities of tin are cast into ingots and bars for exportation. A considerable trade is also done in the shipping of ores, and in the import of coals for the mines. The crucibles made here have obtained a high reputation for durability, and they are manufactured and sent to all parts of the kingdom.

Three banks and a savings bank are established, and two newspapers are published weekly, the West Briton on Fridays, and the Cornwall Gazette on the same day. There is an endowed grammar school, and other public schools. The pleasant position, and central situation of Truro as it regards the county, have brought a number of respect able residents within and around it, and a corresponding increase of new buildings for their accommodation has been made within a few years, by the erection of Strangways and Vivian terraces on the southern side of the town, the Parade on the Malpasroad; and in the western suburb, at Ferris town, the more recent erection of new streets and rows of houses forms almost another town.

The completion of the railway, now in progress, will still further increase the advantages of Truro as a place of residence, and bring with it those accomodations for the casual visiter which it does not at present possess, namely, a few boarding and lodging houses, and some detached furnished family resi dences. The vicinity of Truro is exceedingly picturesque and beautiful, especially in those parts bordering upon the Falmouth river, and on the other lesser streams.

The tortuous course of the Falmouth river presents a succession of charming views and objects of interest. Connected with the tidal jurisdiction of the town is a curious custom still observed. On reaching the limits of jurisdiction, the official parties engaged go on shore, and present a fictitious writ to a certain personage selected for the purpose, for the sum of £999 19s. lljd., who goes through the formality of arrest and release under the terms of the ceremony.

By an ancient charter, the mayor of Truro held jurisdiction over the whole of the Falmouth river, including Falmouth harbour, until 1709, when the point was raised and given in favour of the separate claim of the town of Falmouth over its own harbour.

The principal inns are Pearse's Royal Hotel, in Lemon- street, and the Red Lion in Boscawen-street. The latter is said to have been a mansion belonging to the family of Foote, the celebrated actor and dramatist.

The public conveyances, besides the railway to Penzance, are, mail coaches up and down daily from Falmouth to Plymouth, a mail coach to Penzance daily, a stage coach and omnibus three times a week from Truro to Exeter, two omnibuses daily from Truro to Plymouth, omnibuses and vans to Falmouth, and most of the other neighbouring towns every day.

Having given a short account of the general history of the town, we shall now endeavour to take the Visitor from one or other of the above inns, through some of the principal streets, and point out such public buildings and institutions that lie in our way ; and as we reach the suburbs, try to direct him to any pleasant walks that may be taken from them into the country.

Our first Walk will be from Boscawen-street, through King-street and Pydar-street, to Kenwyn church. For this purpose, on leaving the Royal Hotel, the Stranger turning to the left, a few paces brings him into Boscawen- street, the principal business street of the town. Nearly opposite the Red Lion Hotel, in this street, stands


This large building was erected in 1846, and conduces to several useful and important purposes. The area of the ground floor, extending from Boscawen-street to Back Quay, is appropriated to a commodious market. The upper stories comprise a council chamber, and convenient apartments for conducting the public business of the town, and are also used by the Vice- warden for holding the Stannary Courts. As many strangers may not be aware of the nature of the authority of the Vice- warden, and the courts over which he presides, it may not be out of place here to say a few words respecting the Duchy of Cornwall, from whom the Vice- warden derives his authority, and the kind of business of which his court is cognisant. With respect to the Duchy — by ancient prescription, all mines were deemed kingly property, and accordingly termed " royal." The lands also in which they were thought to exist were appropriated to the monarch, and called crown lands. The reputation which Dartmoor in Devon, and Hengiston, Bodmin, and other moors in Cornwall, had acquired, from the time of the Phoenicians downwards, of possessing the metalliferous ores in large quantities, made these other wise barren heaths objects of kingly care and solicitude. Edward III., however, by a charter, in 1333, settled all these lands, with others in different parts of the country, upon his eldest son, the Black Prince, constituting them the Duchy of Cornwall, and to be held by his heirs and the eldest sons of the kings of England as dukes of Corn wall for ever. A certain duty was also levied, payable to the Duchy, upon all tin brought to be assayed at the Coinage Hall, which, with the fines and renewals of leases on the estates, formed the revenues of the dukedom. From the uncertain tenure by which the lands were held under the duchy, that of the life of the sovereign, very little improvement took place. In the reign of James I., the whole came under the supervision of parliament, and an alteration was made, giving the power to grant definite leases and effect other changes, affording a more permanent tenure to the holders of duchy property. The staff of officers for the management of its affairs, consisting of a Vice-warden, and a host of others, was always very great. In 1838 some reduction took place, and parliament, by an act, abolished the duty that had heretofore been paid on tin when brought to be assayed, and gave an annual compensation to the duchy, equal in amount to that received from tin dues for the previous ten years.

The Stannary Courts have arisen out of the usage which, from time immemorial, gave the tinners or stannators of Devon and Cornwall the power of making laws, and adjudicating in all matters relating to mining in tin. Copper, until a comparatively recent period, was deemed of no value, and, together with lead, did not come under the cognizance of the stannary laws. Previous to the reign of Henry III., a Cornish parliament of gentlemen tinners used to meet on Hengiston Down every seventh or eighth year, to confer with the parliament of Devon tinners, assembled on Crock- erntor, the opposite side of the Tamar, in matters relating to tin mining. In this reign the Cornish miners were dis associated from those of Devon, and, by charter, were exempt from all jurisdiction except that of the Stannary Courts, save in such cases as may affect land, life, or limb. In the reign of Elizabeth, the Cornish miners were divided and called after the principal workings of that time, as tinners of Black Moor, Fowey Moor, Tywarnhayle, and Penwith. They were governed by a warden ; and no law relating to mining could be enforced without the consent of twenty-four gentlemen, six to be chosen by a mayor and council in each of the stannary divisions. The last Cornish stannary parliament is said to have been held in Truro, in 1752. The present Vice-warden's court is now commonly held once in three months, and decides all matters between tinners relating to mining ; and no writ of error lies from it to the courts of Westminster. From the Town Hall, we shall now proceed to the western end of Boscawen-street, and turning to the right, enter King-street. The opening on the right of this street is called the High Cross, and fronting us, stands


It is a handsome stone structure of the perpendicular style, but the harmony of the building is destroyed by a tower and spire of a mongrel design, completed in 1769. The church consists of a north and south aisle, and one of smaller dimensions, erected by ¥m. Leoman, Esq. There are some remains of old stained glass in the windows ; and monuments to the memories of the Robartes, Pendarves, Hoblyn, Burgess, and other families, also one " To the pious and well deserved memory of Owen Fitz Penals Phippen," who delivered himself and five others from the hands of Turks and Algerines, carrying off a vessel of 400 tons, and 22 pieces of ordnance. " Melcombe, in Dorset, was bis place of birth, " Aged 54 ; and here lies earth on earth."


There appears to be no record of this foundation. The salary for the master was formerly £15 per annum, with a residence. It is now managed by the Town Council, who allow £50 to the master. The Rev. St. John Eliot, a former vicar of St. Mary's, founded two exhibitions of £30 each, at Exeter College, for boys from this school ; there is an endowment of £5 per annum, for a charity from the same bequest. On the northern side of High Cross, is the Post Office, and


Used also as a Theatre. The lectures of the Truro Institution are delivered here. In connection with this institution is a reading-room, well supplied with newspapers and periodicals, to which strangers are admitted free, on being introduced by a member. Proceeding up Pydar Street, on the right is Wesleyan Chapel Yard, in which is a building appropriated to


The institution was established in 1813, for the promotion of science and the arts, and has been the means of giving to the world some interesting papers relating to the county. The museum is worth the especial inspection of the stranger, as containing many curiosities in minerals and natural history. Admission is easily obtained through a member, by payment of a small fee, which is applied to keeping it in order. On the ground floor of the building is the Cornwall Library and Reading Room. Opened in 1792, and contains upwards of 6,000 volumes.

At the end of the yard stands a spacious and well constructed Wesleyan Chapel. The Stranger, in walking through Truro, will not fail to notice in almost every street, on both sides of the carriage-way, a constant stream of clear and pure water, which imparts a degree of freshness in the warmest season, and adds greatly to the cleansing and healthfulness of the town. The water is brought from the Kenwyn stream, which comes into the town on the western side. Ascending to the top of Pydar- street, a little on the left, is the site of the ancient castle, still called Castle Hill, but now converted into a spacious cattle market.

We shall continue onward towards Kenwyn Church. About a quarter of a mile from the top of Pydar-street, a pathway on the right, leading through fields, will bring us into the churchyard. The Stranger, should he prefer it, may take a pleasant walk in a different direction, by continuing the road a short distance, and taking a lane on the left through Comprigney and Hendra, and return to Truro on the banks of the Kenwyn river, through Ferris Town.

Kenwyn tower is a fine old structure. The church itself is a modern building. The view from the churchyard is very extensive, commanding the whole of the town, and pleasing prospects of the river and country beyond. From the churchyard, the Visiter, by taking a direction to the right, and descending a steep hill, can return to Truro through Trehaverne fields ; or he may make a more extended round, by following the road close to the banks of the Allan river for about two miles, as far as Scawswater, and return by the eastern bank, entering Truro by Truro- vean and St. Clement-street.

We shall now return to the front of the Town Hall, in Boscawen-street, and take a walk in an opposite direction through a portion of the eastern part of the town and suburbs, and then by the banks of the river to Malpas or Mopus, as it is generally pronounced.

The eastern end of Boscawen-street, or commencement of Princes-street, has, within these few years, undergone some alterations, by the pulling down of the old Coinage Hall, and replacing it by a new building in the Elizabethan style, now occupied by the Cornish Bank. It is, perhaps, to be regretted that, after the destruction of the old building, the space was not devoted to the street, which it would have greatly improved by its enlargement. The Devon and Cornwall Banking House is also in Boscawen-street, and the Miners' Bank, in Princes-street. Duke-street, on the northern side of the Cornish Bank, leads to St. Mary- street, Old and New Bridge-streets, and various other streets on the eastern side of the town, and to the old Bodmin road. From Mitchell Hill, on this road, walks may be taken right or left, bringing the Stranger back by Camp- field-lane, or Trurovean, on one side, or the St. Austell new road, by Tregolls, on the other. We shall leave Boscawen- street by Princes-street and the Quay, passing over the new Boscawen Bridge. The erection of this bridge, in 1849, effected a striking improvement in this part of the town. On the left of Tregolls road is the new district Church of St. Paul. The Visiter, on pursuing this road about a mile, as far as the Union House, and turning to the right, may have a pleasant walk into the old St. Austell road, commanding extensive views and return by it to Truro. From Boscawen Bridge, we shall pursue our course towards the river, by turning to the right into the Mopus road, passing the Parade. The scenery on the banks of the Truro creek is exceedingly beautiful when the tide is up, and the Visiter can follow it as far as the village of Mopus, about two miles below Truro. At this point, vessels trading to the port, but too large to reach the quay, discharge their cargoes. From Mopus, the Stranger can make an agreeable detour by turning to the left, and reach Truro either by Trennick, or tracing the western bank of the St. Clement creek, which will give him a round of about five miles. At St. Clement vicarage is another of those very ancient four-holed crosses so common in the county. But whilst at Mopus, we should recommend him to cross the St. Clement creek by the ferry, and visit the antiquated little church of St. Michael Penkivel ; and the delightful grounds of Tregothnan, the seat of the Earl of Falmouth. The distance from this point is about a mile and a half. The house is very extensive, and was erected from the designs of William Wilkins, Esq. It is an embattled structure of the Tudor era. Returning again to Boscawen-street, we shall take our walk through Lemon-street, towards the Falmouth road. A road on the left conducts by the side of the river, passing Trethellan smelting house, to Newham and the Calenick creek. If the water is low, the Visitor can pursue his way to the village of Calenick, and return to Truro by the old Falmouth road. Ascending Lemon-street, on the right is Charles-street, leading to the


This excellent Institution was founded in 1799. The house is most eligibly placed on an elevation overlooking the town, surrounded by its own grounds and plantations. At the top of Lemon-street, on the left, is the episcopal Chapel of St. John. This is a very pleasant part of the town, and has consequently given rise to the building of some rows of genteel houses. In the highway, at the top of Lemon-street, between Strangways and Vivian Terraces, stands


Erected by subscription, to the memory of Richard Lander, the enterprising African traveller, who, with his brother, were natives of Truro. The shaft is about 70 feet in height. The figure on the top is from the chisel of Mr. Neville Northey Burnard, of London. We are now in the Falmouth road. From Plynts Barn turnpike-gate on this road, the Stranger, by turning off on the right, will find an agreeable walk across to Chapel-hill turnpike-gate, on the Redruth road, affording him some fine views over the town, Kenwyn, Penmount, Tremoryah, &c. On proceeding to the left from Plynts Barn gate by the old Falmouth road, he may take a walk to the village of Caleniek, already mentioned, and from thence, prolonging his stroll about a mile further on the left, to the village of Porthkea On the farm of Higher Lanner, near this village, one of the most delightful views in the neighbourhood of Truro can be obtained. The harbour of Falmouth, — the several creeks of the Truro river, — the princely domain of Tregothnan, — Carn Brea, and thirteen or fourteen different churches, may be seen from this spot. By way of change, the Visiter can return to Truro by Woodberry, to Mopus passage, crossing the river to the other side, as before described. We shall now return, once more, to Boscawen-street, and conclude our peregrinations in Truro by a walk towards the western suburbs. Passing through a short street, more like a continuation of Boscawen-street, called St. Nicholas-street, we come to an opening termed West Bridge, from which several streets diverge. "We shall make a turn to the right, into River-street ; but the main road at present to the westward, Redruth, &c, is through Kenwyn-street, and over Chapel-hill. The Stranger, pursuing this course, will find some pleasing walks open to him, both right and left of Chapel-hill, on the Redruth road, of which we have already mentioned one that will take him round into the Falmouth road. By taking a lane on the right, called Bosvigo-lane, about a quarter of a mile beyond Chapel-hill turnpike-gate, on the Redruth road, it will bring him back into Truro, by Ferris Town, the quarter we are now about to explore from River-street. On entering River-street, the whiteness of the granite stone and mortar of the buildings, will plainly tell us that we are entering a new portion of the town.

The neat and substantial newly built SAVINGS BANK, Composed entirely of Cornish granite, with a chaste portico, stands on the right. Adjoining is the New Baptist Chapel, and near which is the Bethesda (Independent) Chapel. In Castle-street, which we cross to enter Frances-street, is the Wesleyan New Connection Chapel. Frances street and vicinity, comprising a number of neat houses adorned with plants and evergreens, is an open and cheerful neighbourhood. Passing from Frances-street into Ferris Town, and over Richmond-hill, the stranger can reach Bosvigo-lane and the Redruth road, as already mentioned.

Near Bosvigo farm is the Railway Station, but, on the completion of the line to St. Austell and Plymouth, it will be brought much nearer to the town. A delightful walk may be taken from Frances-street by the southern bank of the Kenwyn river, passing Carvedras smelting house, and from thence to the paper mills, and then on to the village of New Mills, about a mile and a half from the town, returning by the northern bank of the Kenwyn river. A lane to the right of Carvedras leads to the Kenwyn road, as already alluded to in our walk to Kenwyn church.

First among the Excursions which may be taken from Truro in fine weather, is a pleasure trip to Falmouth by water, about ten miles. The tide of course, will have to be consulted. With a good boat, and a couple of skilful intelligent boatmen, a day may be well spent. Of the scenery to be met with, the Stranger will be able to form some idea from the walks already taken on the banks of the river. We shall leave to the boatmen, who will be sure to relate all the particulars of Her Majesty and Prince Albert's pleasing and unexpected visit, a few years since, from Falmouth harbour up the Truro creek, as far as Mopus roadstead. The opening of the railway from Penzance to Truro offers an opportunity for the Stranger sojourning here to make excursions into the heart of the mining districts of Redruth, Camborne, &c., and even to Penzance and the attractions of that beautiful neighbourhood ; but we shall leave them for the present, and make an Excursion eight or nine miles north of Truro, in the direction of Perranzabuloe, or Perran in the sands, to visit Piran Round and the interesting remains of the lost church of St. Piran, which for many centuries, until the year 1835, had been buried in the sands. For this purpose, we leave Truro by Pydar- street to Kenwyn Cross, and pass through the village of Short Lane's End. Here we turn to the right, keeping on the Newlyn road until near Chiverton, about four miles and a half from Truro, when we leave the Newlyn road for one on the left, descending a steep hill leading through Goonhaverne mine, about two miles distant. From Goonhaverne, another mile will bring us to Piran Round, not far from the hamlet of Rose. Very soon after leaving Truro, the Stranger will perceive that he is entering a country on the northern side very different in aspect from that of the southern ; trees and vegetation become smaller and scarcer, and those that exist have a uniform inclination towards the south-east, shewing an evident desire to retire from the keen blasts of the north for a more genial clime. The haystacks too, have a tighter lacing and heavier weights of stones to keep them from flying off to another hemisphere. This peculiarity of stacking ricks with ropes of straw passing over the roof, and kept down by heavy festoons of stones, will be seen to prevail in almost every part of the county, as a protection against the rude assaults of Father Boreas. But let us proceed, by alighting from our vehicle .....



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