Building the Royal Albert Bridge

The opening of Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge in May 1859 marked a turning point in Cornwall’s history. No longer cut off from the rest of the country by the wide, watery barrier of the River Tamar, from that moment on travel to the region became quicker and easier than ever before. Within just a few […]

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The Death of Sir Francis Basset & the Dunstanville Memorial, Carn Brea

When Francis Basset, Baron de Dunstanville, died in Knightsbridge in London in 1835 he was one of the wealthiest landowners in Cornwall and the head of one of its most ancient families. There had been Bassets in Cornwall for nearly 900 years and his death came as a shock to his friends and family and […]

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Caer Bran Hillfort, Sancreed – Cornwall Heritage Trust

caer bran

Like so much of Penwith the parish of Sancreed is pretty much bursting with ancient remains. From Bronze Age standing stones and Iron Age villages to holy wells and Celtic crosses. This is an incredibly rich historic landscape that offers us so much and needs our protection. So it was wonderful to hear in February […]

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Gurnard’s Head – Ancient Stronghold & Medieval Hermitage

gurnard's head

The jutting, rugged finger of rock known as Gurnard’s Head has to be one of my favourite places in Penwith. From its dramatic heights I have watched gannets diving for fish and seen sleepy seals bottling; sometimes I have picnicked on warm grass in golden, evening sunshine and sometimes hidden behind rocks slick with rain […]

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Owen Phippen – Captured by Barbary Pirates, Buried in Truro Cathedral

For over 300 years Barbary pirates preyed upon the coasts of the south west of England. Thousands of the ordinary folk were taken captive and held for ransom or sold as slaves in markets in North Africa. Those most at risk were fishermen and merchant sailors whose unarmed boats made easy targets, as Owen Phippen, […]

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Mary Newman of Saltash – Wife of Sir Francis Drake

On 4th July 1569 St Francis Drake married his young sweetheart Mary Newman in St Budeaux Church on the Tamar estuary. While Drake was to become a household name and the greatest seaman of the Elizabethan Age his Cornish wife remains an obscure figure. Something I hope to rectify that a little here. Mary Newman […]

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The Legend of the Crake & the Haunting of the River Gannel

There are those that believe that the River Gannel is haunted. Strange and fearful noises have been heard rising from the waters with the incoming tide. Superstitious locals once thought that the sound was the cry of a troubled spirit and they named it the Crake. But what is the legend of the terrible Crake […]

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The Disastrous Final Voyage of the Cromdale


Imagine yourself standing on the clifftop at Bass Point, not far from the Lizard Lighthouse. It’s May, the sea is smooth, you can hear gentle waves flopping onto the rocks below. But it’s not a clear night. There is a thick, damp mist hanging in the almost still air. Then, quite suddenly, a ship in […]

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‘Jack the Ripper’ in Cornwall

In the Whitechapel district of London in 1888 a series of grisly murders were terrorising the population and confounding the police. Far from the capital the ripples of those terrifying events were making themselves felt in the most unlikely of places – the quiet towns and villages of Cornwall. The fear was palpable – could […]

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