Escapes from Helston Prison

Over a period of twenty years at least eight men and one woman are known to have escaped from Helston Prison. Considering the gaol was only open for twenty-nine years in total that seems a pretty poor track record. In fact, while compiling this article I haven’t really come across many other instances of prison […]

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Robert Johns of Penryn & Sir John Franklin’s Doomed Arctic Expedition

By Illustrated London News - Getty - nationalgeographic.fr, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104706600

On the 19th May 1845 the greatest Arctic expedition ever planned set off from England, its mission – to find to elusive North-West Passage. This was the most technologically advanced and best-equipped enterprise of its age and, despite the failure of many previous attempts, the Admiralty and all those aboard the HMS Erebus and HMS […]

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Bobby Leach – Cornish Daredevil goes over Niagara Falls in a barrel

Robert ‘Bobby’ Leach was a daredevil stuntman said to hail from Cornwall. In July 1911 he became the first man, and only the second person, to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. After recovering from his injuries he became an international celebrity, travelling the world with his barrel, regaling audiences with his tales of […]

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Wartime Cornwall – a Haven for the French Resistance & Europe’s Refugees

On the 15th June 1940, following France’s fall to German occupation, General Charles de Gaulle, secretly left his homeland. His boat is said to have landed at an undisclosed location somewhere on the Helford River in Cornwall before the military leader-in-exile was driven to London. A few days later, on the 18th June, De Gaulle […]

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The Cornish Witch Trials

On the 24th November 1653 the Mercurius Politicus, a weekly newspaper published in London, reported the following: CORNWALL A witch near Lands End accused, and accuses others. Eight sent to Launceston goal. Some probably executed. Unfortunately any details of this particular case, and along with undoubtedly many others, have vanished in the intervening three hundred […]

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Captain John Piers – Cornish pirate

In early October 1581 the Cornish pirate John Piers and fifteen of his crew were arrested on a beach in Dorset. According to legend although Piers was very much a wanted man his capture was pure fluke. There had been no betrayal, no gem of intelligence that had led the arresting officer, Thomas Walshe, to […]

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The Parson Ghost Layers – Cornwall’s Exorcists

“It is said that the best way to be converted to a belief in ghosts is to make the personal acquaintance of one . . .” A. A. Clinnick, Old Cornwall, 1931 Accounts of a village parson bravely pitting his wits against evil spirits from the underworld or doing battle with pesky ghostly apparitions is […]

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The Ghost of Tryphena Pendarves

When Tryphena Pendarves died at the age of 94 in October 1873 the Cornish newspapers reported the return of her mortal remains to Camborne. Her funeral was supposedly attended by numerous local dignitaries and Mrs Pendarves was apparently laid to rest in the imposing family tomb at Treslothan Church, close to Pendarves House. (I say […]

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William Wilton – Mathematical, Philosophical & Optical Instrument Maker

william wilton

The growth of the mining industry in Cornwall transformed not only the economy and countryside but also the lives of the people living and working in and around it. A population explosion saw villages become towns and towns become tent cities. There was also an amazing burgeoning of enterprise and invention which rippled out from […]

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The Notorious Women of the Killigrew Family

The Killigrew family are said to have been the original builders and benefactors of Falmouth. They were the first to realise and exploit it’s potential as a harbour and a centre for trade. With their deep connections to the monarchy from the time of the reign of Henry III in the 13th century they were […]

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