Historic Chapel Street, Penzance, Cornwall UK
One of the hidden jewels of Penzance is historic Chapel Street where the oldest and most interesting architecture is to be found.
Unfortunately few people discover everything that Chapel Street has to offer, it is the main thoroughfare from the harbour to the town centre and runs from Queens Square in the middle of town to the top of ancient Quay Street.
|St Marys Church |
In many ways Chapel Street is charmingly similar to the way it was in the 17th and 18th centuries. At one end is St. Mary's Church which was first a small chapel in the 13th century. It is generally thought that the chapel was destroyed by the Spaniards in the attack of 1595 but in the book by Peter Mound, 1000 years of Faith and Fortune - St Mary's Penzance , this idea is refuted by the official report sent to the King of Spain by the commander of the Spanish raid that states
" In this town we burned more than four hundred houses, some outlying hamlets and three ships which were laden with wine and other goods. The mosque where they gather for their conventicles was not burned because Captain Richard Burley, an English gentleman entertained in your Majesty's Royal Navy, said that this mosque had first been English and that Mass had been celebrated in it previously. Friar Domingo Martinez, principal chaplain of the galleys, wrote two verses in English in which he declared the reason for not burning it and his trust in God that Mass would be celebrated in it again within two years. This done our men withdrew to another town called Newlyn, burning it and all the outlying houses."
The chapel was added to in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and the Church you see now was rebuilt in 1834. Even before the first chapel was built there was a holy well on the site which gave its name to the town - Sans (Holy) Pen (Headland).
The foundation stone of the Chapel Street Methodist Church was laid in 1813, the building replacing the previous chapel in Queen Street. John and Charles Wesley were frequent visitors to Penzance and possibly encountered opposition from the Vicar of Madron Parish, Dr. Walter Borlase.
At the top end of Chapel Street is one of the major landmarks of Penzance- The Egyptian House. This was built in 1836 by John Lavin, a Penzance mineralogist, to house a geological museum. On the outside, apart from the fascinating hieroglyphics, you can see Royal Arms from the periods of George III, IV and William IV. Today the Egyptian House is owned by the Landmark Trust.
The Union Hotel in Chapel Street has the remains of a Georgian Theatre built in 1787 which, if restored, would be the oldest example of its type in the country. The Hotel also boasts the town's original public assembly room built by public subscription in 1791.
The Regent is one of the oldest buildings in Penzance dating back more than 400 years and was originally The Temperance Hotel and a staging post.
|Maria Branwells home|
Maria Branwell, mother of the Bronte sisters, is commemorated by a plaque on the house where she lived in Chapel Street and you will find the Branwell family grave in Penzance churchyard.
|No 37 Chapel Street|