Religion played an inescapable part in the lives of the Cornish of the Victorian period. By modern standards attendance at church or, more usually, chapel was incredibly high, although contemporaries were appalled that only around a half of adults attended church in 1851 when there was a religious census. A wealth of social events were … Continue reading Hallelujah! Helston praises the Lord
The good old days in quiet Cornwall
Sepia-toned photos of quiet nineteenth century Cornish towns and villages make us conjure up imagined memories of those peaceful days of our great-grandparents. But records of the police courts at two Cornish towns serve to qualify this nostalgic glow somewhat. The towns were St Austell in mid-Cornwall and Helston in the west. The time was … Continue reading The good old days in quiet Cornwall
The state of Cornish towns in 1600: Part 2
As Richard Carew turned his attention westwards, his accounts of Cornish towns became noticeably briefer, probably reflecting his lack of acquaintance with places increasingly distant from his home at Antony, close to the Tamar. St Columb was merely ‘a mean market town’, while St Austell was still too insignificant to get a mention. Despite being … Continue reading The state of Cornish towns in 1600: Part 2
Bob Fitzsimmons: Cornwall’s world boxing champion
Cornwall can claim a world boxing champion. And not just a champion but someone who won three world championships at different weights – middle, heavy and light heavy. The house in Wendron Street where Bob was born In actual fact, Bob Fitzsimmons’ connection to Cornwall was rather tangential. Born in Helston on this day in … Continue reading Bob Fitzsimmons: Cornwall’s world boxing champion
Helston’s Furry Day and Hal-an-Tow
Another iconic Cornish festival day. Another sad silence. Although traditional furry dances were held in several places across Cornwall within living memory – I remember participating at Liskeard – Helston is now regarded as the home of the furry. The event shares some aspects with Padstow’s ‘Obby ‘Oss - the celebration of spring, traditional songs, … Continue reading Helston’s Furry Day and Hal-an-Tow
Why did Cornwall have 44 MPs?
Those were the days. Now Cornwall only has a feeble voice in the UK Parliament, represented by just six MPs. But before 1821 Cornwall enjoyed a representation more fitting its status, sending 44 MPs. With around 1.5% of the population it had 7-8% of parliamentary representatives. Why? In the 1500s Cornwall was not that exceptional. … Continue reading Why did Cornwall have 44 MPs?
Cholera in Cornwall: the Victorians’ coronavirus
Not strictly Victorian perhaps, as it preceded Victoria’s reign by five years. As if the endemic typhoid, typhus and dysentery, not to mention the measles, mumps and whooping cough that every year cut a swathe through thousands of infants, were not enough, in 1832 cholera arrived in Cornwall. Outbreaks periodically panicked local authorities into the … Continue reading Cholera in Cornwall: the Victorians’ coronavirus
How our great-great grandparents celebrated the 5th November
In 1876 Helston Town Council took the precaution of putting up placards in the town and sent the town crier around to warn that those letting off fireworks in the street would be fined £5. Things had apparently got out of hand. The West Briton stated that: This action was highly necessary, inasmuch as the … Continue reading How our great-great grandparents celebrated the 5th November