Cornwall is a lot more than tourism as its history shows. On 65 hectares of the flat plateau of the Lizard peninsula at Goonhilly Downs there’s an unexpected listed building. This can be found in the shape of the first satellite dish built to receive the pathbreaking television images bounced across the Atlantic via Telstar … Continue reading Goonhilly

Portreath harbour

As the production of copper from the central mining district around Camborne and Redruth soared in the eighteenth century local mine investors and landlords were confronted by transport bottlenecks. It was becoming ever more difficult to import enough coal to feed the growing number of steam engines, or to export the copper ore quickly and … Continue reading Portreath harbour

St Neot church windows

In the last years of the Catholic church’s primacy in England there was a boom in church building and restoration. Cornwall too had its share of church re-building beginning in the 1400s. Bodmin, the largest church, was rebuilt between 1469 and 1491. St Mary Magdalene at Launceston is another major example, rebuilt between 1511 and … Continue reading St Neot church windows

Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

When writing his Poldark books, Winston Graham made use of real placenames. Many will know that the name Demelza came from a place near Bodmin, originally Dyn Maelda, or Maelda’s fort. The Poldarks' home of Nampara was another real place, a small hamlet near Graham’s home. It was formerly Nansbara, or bread valley. By the … Continue reading Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

Surname turnover in 17th century Cornwall

Cornish surnames such as Chesterfield, Oxnam or Sturtridge hail originally from places well outside Cornwall. Their presence, sometimes for centuries, indicates that the horizons of people in the past were not confined entirely to their own small patch. Unlike the common misconception, this was a society on the move, although not usually the distances implied … Continue reading Surname turnover in 17th century Cornwall