The original Cornish name for ‘Penzance’ is ‘Penn Sans’ which translated to English means ‘Holy Headland’. This refers to the headland to the west of the harbour where over 1000 years ago a chapel was established by early Christians. Nowadays St Mary’s Church occupies the site close to where this chapel would have stood.
Penzance began as a small fishing village and sometime in the 14th Century became a town. It is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The first mention of Penzance in writing took place around 1284.
Penzance suffered from outbreaks of the plague in 1578 and 1647.
Penzance town centre has a busy high street called Market Jew Street (which translates from the Cornish ‘Marghas Yow’ to mean ‘Thursday Market’) with a mixture of independent shops and big-name stores you would expect to see on any high street in the UK. You will also find numerous pubs, hotels and places to eat in Penzance town centre.
At the top of the high street sits a statue of Sir Humphry Davy who was born nearby. Davy is famous for inventing the miners safety lamp which still carries his name today.
Leading on from Market Jew Street you’ll find Chapel Street which is the most historical area of Penzance. Here you will find the Union Hotel where the news of Lorn Nelsons victory of the Battle of Trafalgar was first announced. You’ll also find the amazing facade of the Egyptian House and the Turks Head Inn which is believed to be the oldest public house in Penzance dating back to 1233. The Admiral Benbow Inn and Restaurant is a great place to visit if you are interested in nautical history.
The artistic heart of West Cornwall can be found in the beautiful Morab Gardens; Penlee House – Gallery & Museum is somewhere I love to visit throughout the year. Penlee House is a great place to find out about the local history, art, archaeology and the world-famous paintings of the Newlyn School of Artists. There is also a great little cafe here too.
I have spent several enjoyable hours watching these videos about the history of Penzance on YouTube.
There are some really interesting videos here. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the channels of these video creators and while you are at it you can subscribe to my YouTube channel as well 🙂
History of Penzance YouTube Video Playlist