Liskeard, Cornwall

Liskeard, a market-town, a parish, and a municipal borough in Cornwall. The town stands partly on rocky eminences, partly on a plain at their base, amid an elevated but well-cultivated country, 1 mile E of the terminus of the Liskeard and Looe railway, and 18 miles WNW of Plymouth. It has a station on the G.W.R., at the south end of the town, and is 259 miles by railway from London, and 224 by road, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office. Area of the municipal borough, 2704 acres; of the civil parish, 5924; population of the municipal borough, 3984; of the civil parish, 1040; of the ecclesiastical, 4966. Liskeard was anciently called Liskerret, probably from two Cornish words, signifying "a fortified place," and it is one of the most ancient towns in Cornwall. The country around it possesses many cromlechs, stone-circles, and other monuments of the aboriginal inhabitants. The manor was given by William the Conqueror to Robert, Earl of Mortaigne, passed to the Earls of Cornwall, and was one of the manors annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall by Act of Parliament in the time of Edward III. A castle or strong fortress, supposed to have been erected by one of the Earls of Cornwall, stood on an eminence still called Castle Hill at the E end of the town, and was described by Leland as in his time all in ruin. A house for lepers called the hospital of St Mary Magdalene at Liskeard figures in record about the year 1400. A battle was. fought in 1643 on Broadoak Down, 5 miles WSW of fbi-town, between Sir Ralph Hopton and the Parliamentarians, when Sir Ralph was victorious, took 1250 prisoners, and established his quarters in Liskeard. Charles I. was here in person during five days of the following year, and again in 1645, and the house which he occupied is still standing. Sir Edward Coke, the famous lawyer, represented the town in Parliament in 1620, Gibbon the historian represented it in 1775, and Dr Jane, a regius professor, was a native.

The town presents an irregular appearance; the streets, from the singularity of the situation, are destitute of good arrangement, the foundations of some of the houses being on a level with the chimneys of others. Considerable improvements have however been made, and many handsome houses now adorn the outskirts and the environs. The streets are macadamized and have flagged side-walks, and excellent water is supplied from a conduit, and also from a reservoir on St Cleer, by pipes to houses. The old town-hall was built in 1707, and was a pleasing structure with granite arches and columns. The new town-hall was built in 1859, and is a neat edifice in the Italian style. The parish church is a spacious and interesting structure, which was restored in 1879 and again in 1888. It has a low embattled tower, on which is the date 1627. The church contains monuments of the Trehawkes, a cenotaph to Joseph Wadham who died ia 1707, and whose ancestors founded Wadham College in Oxford, and a monument to Lieutenant James Hawkey who. fell in an attack on a squadron of Russian gunboats in the Gulf of Finland. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro; tithe rent charge commuted at £500 with residence. A chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and much frequented. by pilgrims formerly stood in a park still called Lady Park. The Congregational chapel stands in Dean Street, on the site of a previous old one of humble appearance, was built in 1866 at a cost of about £1600, and is in the Early Decorated English style. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1863 of local schist faced with Bath stone, and is in the Early English style. There are also Wesleyan, United Free Methodist, Primitive Methodist, and Bible Christian chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house. The grammar school, closed in 1849 for want of due means of support, at one time had Haydon the mathematician for a master. There are four banks, four good hotels, commodious market-houses, a large public hall, literary and scientific institution, a temperance hall, masonic hall, and a Conservative club. A weekly newspaper is published. A weekly market is held on Saturday; great markets for cattle and sheep on second Monday of each month except October, and a fair for cattle, sheep, &c., on 2 Oct. There are some woollen manufactories and an iron foundry. The town was incorporated by Edmund, predecessor of Richard, Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans; sent two members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. till the Act of 1832, when it was deprived of one, and in 1885 the representation was merged in that of the county. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5