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Penzance, Marazion and Neighbourhood (1830)

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Penzance, a seaport and corporate town, in the parish of Madron and hundred of Penwith, is 282 miles from London, 109 from Exeter, and 10 from the Land’s End.  It is situated on the north side of Mount’s Bay;  the country surrounding it being mountainous, but the land remarkably fertile.  The town, of late years, has received very great improvement;  the houses in general are handsome and convenient buildings, and the streets are tolerably well paved;  although it is very difficult and expensive to keep the pavement in repair, from the heavy loads of copper ore and block tin, which are brought in waggons from the neighbouring mines and smeltinghouses for shipment at this port.  By some writers the name of this town is supposed to signify the “Saint’s Head”;  and this opinion is supported by the circumstance of “the baptist’s head in a charger” being the corporation arms.  Others conceive it to have originated in its situation, and from thence called “Pensavas” or “the head of the channel”.  Leland, in his itinerary, writes it “Pensantes”.


Few towns, with reference to size, are more flourishing.  The trade of the port consists of exports of tin, in blocks, ingots and bars, to many foreign parts;  and coastways in copper, tin, leather, &c. to London, Liverpool, Bristol and Wales;  pilchards to the Mediterranean, and oil to Ireland.  Its imports are tallow, hemp and iron from St Peterburgh;  and timber from Norway, Prussia and America;  it receives coastways iron and coal from Wales;  corn and flour from Norfolk, Sussex, Hampshire, and London;  salt and balegoods from Liverpool;  groceries, balegoods, and wine, spirits and porter, by regular traders, from London, Bristol and Plymouth.  A very excellent dry dock has been constructed, at a considerable expense;  and the general regulations of the port are efficient and salutary.  The tolls of the market, and dues of the pier, belong to the corporation;  the former produce annually about 600, and the latter about 1,200.  This is one of the coinage towns of the duchy, nearly twothirds of the tin being exported from its pier;  the remainder paying the duties at Truro.


The town is governed by a mayor, eight aldermen, 12 common councilmen, a recorder, townclerk, &c.  A court of requests is held once a fortnight, for the recovery of sums under 50, at which the mayor, with the townclerk, presides;  and a hundred court, under the steward of the lord of the manor (Sir Christopher Hawkins, Bart.);  also town sessions, on the Friday subsequent to the county sessions.  The public institutions comprise a dispensary, affording relief to the indigent sick poor;  the “Royal Geological Society of Cornwall”, established in 1813, with an extensive and interesting museum;  a public library, gentlemen’s

subscription and commercial news rooms, more than a dozen bookclubs;  and handsome assemblyrooms at the Union Hotel, &c. &c.


The parish church is at Madron, about a mile and a half from the town;  the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the corporation;  the Rev. C. N. Le Grice is the present curate.  In the town are a chapel of ease under Madron parish, with several meetinghouses for dissenters, and a jews’ synagogue.  Penzance is the birthplace of the late celebrated Sir Humphrey Davy;  and, in speaking of talented persons, we cannot omit noticing, that it is at present the residence of Miss Hatfield, who has given to the world some very pleasing

poems;  this lady keeps a seminary of the most respectable class.  A great many gentlemen’s seats are in the immediate neighbourhood, in every direction;  they are too numerous to particularize.  The views around Penzance are particularly pleasing, and the walks and rides agreeable, through diversified scenery;  and the prospects from the eminences are extensive and interesting.  The markets are on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Thursday being the principal one;  the fairs are, March 25th, and the Thursdays after Trinity and before Advent Sundays.  By the returns made in 1821, the population was as follows:  Madron parish, 7,235;

Penzance chapelry, 5,224 of that number, and St Michael’s Mount (extraparochial) 223. Within the last seven years, however, it is estimated that the population of the chapelry has increased to upwards of 7,000 persons;  and more than 200 houses have been erected within the same period.


Marazion, or Market Jew, is a small market town in the parish of St Hilary, and in the same hundred as Penzance, three miles from that town.  This place is said to have derived its name from having been much frequented by Jews trading here some centuries ago, and who held an annual market for selling various commodities.  In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it obtained a charter, vesting the government of the town in a mayor, 8 aldermen and 12 capital burgesses, with power to hold a weekly market.  The situation of Marazion, and the mildness of the climate, occasion its being much visited;  indeed were it not for the frequent rains that fall in this part of the country, no spot could be found, either in Italy or the south of France, possessing a more mild and salubrious atmosphere.  From Marazion, at low water, there is a

causeway, about three furlongs in length, to Saint Michael’s Mount, a place that well deserves the attention of the curious;  at high tides it is completely insulated by the sea, but at half  tide it may be approached by the causeway just mentioned.  The rock of which St Michael’s Mount is composed is a hard granite, nearly bare of soil, and extremely steep and craggy;  the height, from lowwatermark to the top of the chapel tower, is 240 feet;  in circumference at the base it measures about three quarters of a mile;  the mount gradually diminishes in size from the base, and is terminated in a very curious manner by the tower

of a chapel upon its summit, making a complete pyramid on the side next Marazion.  St Michael’s has a commodious and convenient pier, where about 40 vessels can harbour in security, having about two feet less water within the basin than at Penzance.  The parish church of St Hilary is about two miles and a half from Marazion;  but there is a chapel of ease in the town, and one each belonging to the methodists and baptists.  The marketday is Saturday, and there is one annual fair, held on Michaelmasday.  The parish of St

Hilary contained in 1821 2,811 inhabitants, and the town of Marazion 1,253 of that number.


Post Office, Chapel Street, Penzance, Nicholas Phillips, Post Master – letters from London, &c. arrive every morning at halfpast ten, and are despatched every afternoon at halfpast two – letters from Falmouth arrive every morning at eleven, and are despatched every afternoon at halfpast one.


Post Office, Marazion – letters from all parts arrive from Penzance every morning at halfpast eleven, and are despatched to that town every afternoon at two.



Source:  Extracted from Pigot’s Directory of Cornwall, 1830 (page 155ff)

This directory does not include information on St Just-in-Penwith or Bosavern.