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Part of the Acorn Archive

Penzance, Cornwall

Architecture and Heritage

The Charter Boundary


Of the earliest “structures” of Penzance to be seen are the Boundary Stones.

Two of the original four bound-stones remain.

In, what is now named The Greenmarket, stood the cross, of unknown antiquity.

The Cross is known as The Market Cross.

When the boundaries of the town were first set,

the encompassment was defined as a circle of a half mile radius from the cross.

In fact it was the Charter itself, a Charter of Incorporation given by King James I,

on the 9th May 1614, that defined this unusual boundary limit.

In 1687, the town had made and set the four bound-stones, costing £3:9s:6d.

The bound-stones were set at Wherrytown, Chyandour, Alverton and Chapel St Clare.

They are marked “P” / “16” / “87”


Three views of the bound-stone at Chyandour


Three views of the bound-stone at Chapel St Clare


The bound-stone at Alverton was replaced with a new stone,

(when Estate walls were built anew)

in 1865, and set by Mayor John Richards Branwell.

The stone is inscribed “B S” / 13 FT 6 IN / S / “1865”.


The stone at Wherrytown has “disappeared”.


Quite how the positions of the bound-stones were positioned,

before the advent of Ordnance Maps and Global Positioning Satellites,

is a matter for some consideration, as a line of sight view was clearly out of the question.

The stone at Alverton is not quite in the “correct” position,

but that must have been a compromise with the access drive position for the Estate.

The two original stones are, as we say here, “spot on”;

they also have bench mark stations inscribed in their heads.

Bench Mark on the stone at St Clare


From the painting "Beating the Borough Bounds"

by John Thomas Blight 1835-1911

Showing Mayor Samuel Higgs at Alverton Bound-Stone, Penzance in 1853.



Raymond Forward