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Part of the Acorn Archive

Penzance, Cornwall

Architecture and Heritage

Market Place


In Penzance, there are a handful of very old buildings that have survived; unfortunately they have been

adapted and altered over the years, as well as having new shopfronts;

old chimneys have been removed and changed, new roofing treatments and finishes.

Even a dated stone is not necessarily proof of date of the specific building,

as they were fitted again after re-building, and not necessarily from the building on which they are now placed.

The history of a building can be seen in its stonework, bedding and pointing.

It is also a matter of being familiar with techniques and details.

The age of photography has greatly assisted in dating later features and buildings,

if some awareness is applied.

When buildings have been stuccoed or rendered, there is no easy way to date buildings

with any certainty, unless documents are provided,

or evidence is found in quite simple records, such as Census occupancy.

At Market Place, one 17th century chimney stack remains.


One of the most remarkable shops was Richard Chirgwins.

The frontage was an amazing spread of glass, with art nouveau glazing bars, curves and different levels,

beautifully set and formed granite base and inviting doorways.

And the lettering in Gold.

The building replaced the existing group of Richard Chirgwins and Clarke’s Library

which had both replaced an earlier building not long previously.

The shop and building were demolished in 1960, replaced with the very worst of buildings.

Thankfully this has now been replaced by Wetherspoons;

School Report : “Pass mark achieved” with the caveat at the bottom “but could do better”.


One building

(as well as Market House/Lloyds Bank on which I will set aside a few pages)

which merits a lot of attention (and needs some attention)

is Number 3, the Devon & Cornwall Bank

Built 1889

Designed by James Hicks of Redruth.

I can remember the building being used by The National Farm Industries,

then an Estate Agent, and Photo Kine and now it is Holland & Barratt.

The entrance door used to be on the left hand side.

This is one of the better and more sensitive treatments of shop fronts.

A double column of Scottish Red Granite

Well designed, well ordered, and well detailed.


A perfect example of how not to look after a building.

Built c1850 for Samuel York, Draper

he married Jane Coulson, daughter of Henry Coulson

More on that family can be found on the page concerning

The National School & Coulson’s Granary.



Raymond Forward