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Truro, Cornwall

Historical Description

Truro, a market-town, a municipal borough, and a diocese in Cornwall. The town stands at the head of a creek of Falmouth harbour, with a station on the G.W.R., 295 miles from London, and 8½ N by E of Falmouth. Acreage of municipal borough, 190; population, 11,131. The borough includes the mother parish of St Mary, with a population of 2500; part of the parish of Kenwyn, with a population of 5473; and part of the parish of St Clement, with a population of 3158. The Cornwall and West Cornwall sections of the G.W.R. join at Truro, and also the branch from Falmouth. The borough was declared a city by the style of " the City of Truro in the county of Cornwall" in 1877; it returned two members to Parliament from 1295 until 1885, when, by the Redistribution of Seats Act, it was merged in the county. It may have been originally called either Tre-ru, signifying "the castle on the water," or Tru-ru, signifying " the three streets;" had anciently a castle, which belonged to the Earls of Cornwall, and is now extinct; had likewise an ancient Dominican friary and an ancient nunnery; was visited in 1645 by Prince Charles, and then garrisoned for the King; was taken in 1646 by Fairfax; numbers among its natives the comedian Foote, the antiquary Polwhele, the African explorers R. and J. Lander, the missionary Henry Martyn, and the Christian philanthropist Dr. T. Harris; gives the title of Baron to the family of Wilde, is a seat of quarter sessions, petty sessions, and county courts, and a port; may be considered as more than Bodmin, the head town of the county, publishes three weekly newspapers, consists of numerous wide well-built, well-paved streets, and has a handsome post office erected in 1886, five banks, two hotels, a modern town-hall in the Italian style, public rooms erected in 1867, a market-house, a police station, the Royal Institution of Cornwall with lecture-room and museum, Bishop Phillpotts' library, the Cornwall library and reading-room, a free library, erected in 1895, a diocesan female training college, an endowed grammar school, a horticultural society, a county infirmary, almshouses, and other charities. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and fairs on 5 March, 14 May, 19 Nov., and 8 Dec. Vessels of 100 tons come up to the town, and those of 200 tons can come within 2 miles of it. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in 1895 was 37 (2174 tons). Truro was formerly one of the towns having the privilege of coining, or, more properly, " stamping" tin, and possessed this right as early as the reign of King John. The Stannary courts for Cornwall and Devon are held at Truro, usually in February, May, August, and November. A bill for the reconstruction of the see of Cornwall was laid before Parliament in 1847, but without result; various other efforts were made in subsequent years with the same purpose, and the income required being at length obtained, the diocese of Truro was founded by Order in Council in 1876, separating Cornwall from the see of Exeter and constituting it a distinct diocese. The Cathedral (of which only the choir, transepts, south porch, baptistery, and one bay of the nave are as yet built) was erected at a cost of about £115,000, partly upon the site of the old parish church of St Mary. The south aisle of the former building was worked into the new one. It is in the Early English style of the early part of the 13th century, is constructed on the exterior of St Mabe granite with Box stone dressings, St Stephen's granite with Doulting and Bath stone being used for the interior. The magnificent reredos is a very fine work of Bath stone, illustrating in its elaborately-carved groups and imagery " the Sacrifice and Exaltation of Our Lord." There are numerous monuments and memorials, and some handsome stained-glass windows. The income of the bishop, who is also dean, is £3000 per annum, and two of the stalls of the four residentiary canons are endowed with £400 per annum each. The living of St Mary is a rectory; net value, £100 with residence. St George's Church, erected in 1855, is a building of stone in the Early English style, with north porch and tower. The living is a vicarage; gross value, £150 with residence. Patrons, the Crown and Bishop alternately. St John's Church was erected in 1827-28, and is a rectangular building of stone in the Italian style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £145. Patron, the Vicar of Kenwyn. St Paul's Church is a building of stone in the Perpendicular style, erected in 1849; it was thoroughly restored in 1884, and enlarged in 1889. The living is a vicarage; net value, £6 5 with residence. Patron, the Vicar of St Clement's. There are Catholic, Baptist, Bible Christian, Congregational, Free Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. The principal residences in the neighbourhood are Tregothnan, Glan Mor, Tremorvah, and Southleigh. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. The scenery in the immediate vicinity is particularly beautiful.

Truro Parliamentary division of Cornwall was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 50,742. The division includes the following:-West Kerrier-Anthony (St, in Meneage), Breage, Cury, Germoe, Grade, Gunwalloe, Keverne (St), Landewednack, Manaccan, Martin (St, in Meneage), Mawgan (in Meneage), Mullion, Ruan (Major), Ruan (Minor), Sithney, Wendron (part of); East Kerrier (part of)-Budock, Constantine, Falmouth (parish), Gluvias (St), Mabe, Mawnan, Mylor, Penryn, Perranarworthal, Stithians; West Powder (part of)-Allen (St), Clements (St), Erme (St), Feock, Kea, Kenwyn, Mary (St), Michael (St, Penkivel), Perranzabuloe, Tregavethan; Helston, municipal borough; Truro, municipal borough.

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 
Ecclesiastical parishTruro St. Mary 
Poor Law unionTruro 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Truro from the following:


Online maps of Truro 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 districtTR1
Post TownTruro