Tintagel (St. Symphorina)

TINTAGEL (St. Symphorina), a parish, in the union of Camelford, hundred of Lesnewth, E. division of Cornwall; comprising the disfranchised borough of Bossiney, and containing 1185 inhabitants. The parish is situated on the Bristol Channel, by which it is bounded on the north; and was distinguished at an early period for its castle, whose foundation is attributed to King Arthur. This fortress was built partly on a stupendous craggy rock surrounded by the sea, and partly on the precipitous cliff that skirts the main land, the two portions being separated by a frightful chasm, 300 feet deep, over which was a drawbridge. It was occasionally occupied by the English princes: in 1245, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, entertained his nephew, Davydd, Prince of Wales, in it, during the latter's rebellion against Henry III.; and in subsequent reigns, till within a few years of that of Elizabeth, it continued to be a royal castle, under a governor appointed by the crown, and was used as a state prison for the duchy of Cornwall. The remains consist chiefly of large scattered masses of the broken towers, and parts of the walls pierced for discharging arrows: in Leland's time the keep was remaining, and, according to that writer, contained "a praty chapel, with a tumbe on the left syde."

The parish comprises 3709 acres, of which 450 are common or waste land; the soil exhibits almost every variety. The scenery is strikingly picturesque; on the Trevillet estate is a deep vale of considerable length, in some parts richly wooded, in others marked with spiral rocks and overhanging precipices, and terminating on the south-east with a lofty cascade. Upon the cliffs, which are bold and romantic, are several slate-quarries, whence 200 cargoes are annually procured, and shipped at a wharf near the remains of Arthur's Castle: in these quarries are found those beautifully transparent and regular polygonal crystals called Cornish diamonds. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £8. 11. 3.; net income, £220; patrons, the Dean and Canons of Windsor; impropriator, Lord Wharncliffe: there is a parsonage-house, with a glebe of 40 acres. The church is an ancient structure, with a curious Norman font. In the parish were formerly two chapels, one dedicated to St. Piran, and the other to St. Denis. The Wesleyans have a place of worship. On the Trevillet estate are some remains of earthworks called Condolden Burrows; in the churchyard are three barrows, and in the town of Bossiney is another, on which the writ for the election of members for that borough was read. Near the town also is an ancient cross.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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