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Helston, Cornwall

Historical Description

Helston, a municipal borough in Cornwall. The borough stands on the side of a hill, sloping to the river Cober, 3 miles N by E of the river's influx to the sea, 11 WSW of Falmouth, and 318 from London, with a station on the G.W.R., and a post, money order, and telegraph office. It was known at Domesday as Henliston, was made a stannary town for the stamping of tin by Edward I.; had an ancient castle, sometime the residence of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, which William of Worcester, writing in the time of Edward IV., mentions as then a ruin; was one of the decayed towns for the repairing of which an Act of Parliament was passed in the time of Henry VIII., and it is said to have been the place where the first symptoms of the Cornish rebellion. of 1549 appeared. A bowling-green at the W end of the principal street is believed to be on the site of the ancient castle. A remarkable annual festival, called Helston Flora Day or Helston Furry, has been held from time immemorial on 8 May, and is thought by some to be a continuation of the Roman Floralia, by others to have been instituted in memory of a victory over the Saxons. The town has been much improved since the beginning of the 19th century, is regularly and neatly built, comprises four large streets, in cruciform arrangement, with a handsome and spacious market-house and town-hall in the centre, and contains a church, four dissenting chapels, a literary institution with a public hall, a reading-room, a dispensary, and a workhouse. The church stands on an eminence on the N side of the town, was rebuilt at the expense of the Earl of Godolphin in 1763, is Later English, has a lofty pinnacled tower which serves as a landmark to mariners, and contains a fine E window and several monuments; the building has been well restored. Population of the municipal borough, 3198; of the ecclesiastical parish of Helston St Michael, 3963. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Truro; gross value, £335 with residence, in the gift of Queen's College, Oxford. At the beginning of the 19th century there was a dissenting chapel which occupied the site of an ancient priory of the Rnights of St John, but it is now used as a store. The town is a seat of petty sessions, was made a borough by King John, sent two members to Parliament from the time of Elizabeth till the Act of 1832, after which it only sent one, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the representation was merged in that of the county. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, and has three banks. Markets are held on Saturdays, and several annual fairs are held. The environs are interesting. A fine lacustrine expansion of the Cober, called Loe Pool, commences half a mile to the S, and goes to the bar at the river's mouth, which is through an artificial channel. Till this was opened the surplus water of 'the lake was got rid of by cutting a channel through the bar of sand which separates it from the sea. Permission to do this had to be obtained, after presenting a leathern purse with small coin, from the Lord of Penrose, in whose property the lake is situated. A picturesque tour of 11 miles lies southward to the Lizard. The town is noted for its salubrity, being sheltered from the north and east winds.

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


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCornwall 
Civil parishWendron 
Ecclesiastical parishHelston St. Michael 
Poor Law unionHelston 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Helston from the following:


Online maps of Helston are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cornwall papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

We have a copy of The Visitations of Cornwall, by Lieut.-Col. J.L. Vivian online.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtTR13
Post TownHelston