Worst in Britain? Cornish roads 200 years ago

Maybe it was the penny-pinching of the parishes who were responsible for the upkeep of the roads. Maybe it was a question of Cornwall’s hilly topography. But contemporaries were agreed; Cornwall’s roads were atrocious. In 1754 a writer in the Gentleman’s Magazine concluded that: Cornwall, I believe, at present has the worst roads in all … Continue reading Worst in Britain? Cornish roads 200 years ago

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

‘Little huts’: housing in the late 1700s

In the fictional universe of Poldark, Demelza had lived in a ‘tiny, crowded cottage’ before being whisked away by Ross. But exactly how rough and rudimentary were the cottages in which folk like Demelza and her family had to live? Fortunately, we possess several descriptions of the cottages of the labouring poor in these years. … Continue reading ‘Little huts’: housing in the late 1700s

Camborne versus Redruth: Regrettable scenes

One of the iconic dates in the Cornish sporting calendar is the annual rugby match between Camborne and Redruth, held on Boxing Day. Sometimes, the two teams also met on Easter Monday to renew their competition. On occasion however, this resulted in more than friendly local rivalry between two neighbouring towns. Take this fixture from … Continue reading Camborne versus Redruth: Regrettable scenes

‘The dialect of the people grew more provincial’: the east Cornish mining boom of the 1840s

The 1840s was the first decade for over a century in which population growth in Cornwall, fuelled by the growth of mining, abruptly slowed down. In the 1840s mass emigration began from Cornwall to places overseas. But that overseas movement, stimulated by the economic difficulties of the later 1840s, has masked a parallel contemporary migration … Continue reading ‘The dialect of the people grew more provincial’: the east Cornish mining boom of the 1840s

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?