Cornwall and Scilly Urban Survey Logo Background The Project The Towns Links Contact Us
 home > towns > camelford

Camelford

A medieval market town, with a charter of 1259 granting market, fair and borough status.

An inland highway town in north Cornwall, Camelford sits on the main road (A39) that skirts the north-west side of Bodmin Moor on its way from Bude in the north to Wadebridge in the west, or, anciently, from London in the east to Falmouth in the west. Other main roads from Bodmin (B3266) and Launceston meet the A39 a little out of town, on its west and east sides respectively. Camelford is, as its name suggests, beside a crossing point on the principal river of this district. The Camel rises just four kilometres to the north, but is already a fairly strong water body set in a steep-sided valley with a narrow floor by the time it reaches the town. Winds whipping in off the sea and whistling over the fine quarrying village of Delabole are rarely experienced as such bitter beasts by the citizens of nicely sheltered Camelford. While they may therefore be warmer, the people receive a little less sunshine (being in a valley) and have to climb out of the old settlement to its later extensions to experience the extensive and inspiring views over the north Cornish countryside. Roughtor and Brown Willy, the two great tor-topped hills of Bodmin Moor dominate the south-east and equally exposed but more gently rolling hills and downs run off to the north and east towards the heights of Condolden and Davidstow. The Camel’s deep wooded valley curves away to the south on its long circuitous course to Nanstallon, Wadebridge and Padstow and finally to the sea at Stepper Point.

The historic landscape around Camelford is predominantly Anciently Enclosed Land, farmland first enclosed in later prehistory, reorganised in the medieval period into strip fields and then enclosed into distinctively Cornish fields, many reflecting their former strippy shapes, in the later medieval and early post-medieval periods. The Upland Rough Ground of Bodmin Moor has been pushed further away to the south-east by the 19th century intakes on the higher parts of Advent parish, farms like Lowermoor, Edenvale, Poldue and Roughtor. Indeed the Moor only really begins, in the sense of being open rough grassland, at Roughtor Ford. From here the mountain of Roughtor rears up, its rocky mane shaking streams of stones down the grassy slopes, stones that resolve themselves into ruined prehistoric houses and enclosures. This is Camelford’s special place, a magical retreat much more important for the spirit of its inhabitants than the Arthurian myths that have become attached to the place.

Other intakes spread away toward Davidstow and partly encircle the concrete remains of the great World War Two airfield on Davidstow Moor. Camelford is thus a town embedded in the countryside, a rural town providing services to country people. The town’s principal street, Fore Street, climbs diagonally up the steep valley side from the south-east corner of the medieval Market Place. It runs on to become High Street once it crests the rise and here, on the flatter ground, is the old fairground. A network of narrow opeways links Fore Street with another steeply climbing medieval street, a service lane originally called Back Street, but now Chapel Street (from a 19th century Methodist chapel). Other alleys slope off to the river to the east and lanes climb up to farmland to the west. Across the river, development is relatively late; just a few houses by the bridge are earlier than the 19th century and the late Victorian relocated Sir James Smith’s school in College Road once stood alone, surrounded by fields. The main road to the east, climbing up a slightly gentler slope in a natural declivity, was brought into the town in the 19th century as an essentially residential area called Victoria Road. A similar strip of ribbon development to the south of the town, High Street, is rather earlier.

Downloads:
The downloads offered below represent the different elements of the CSUS Camelford Report including the core text, seven illustrative figures and four character area summaries. The majority of the downloads are large files (to maintain some quality of image resolution) and therefore may take time to download.

  Title Description

Format

Size

CSUS Camelford Report REPORT text detailing the results of the historic character study for the town of Camelford. Kate Newell, Historic Environment Service..

Format type: PDF

2962kb

Figure 1 - Location & Topography Map Map showing the location of Camelford and its immediate topography.

Format type: PDF

410kb
Figure 2 - Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (c1907) Map showing the town of Camelford in c1907.

Format type: PDF

362kb
Figure 3 - Historic Development Map Map showing the historic development and expansion of Camelford.

Format type: PDF

1110kb
Figure 4 - Historic Settlement Topography Map Map showing the historic topography of Camelford with key areas of historic activity.

Format type: PDF

1134kb
Figures 5 - Surviving Historic Components Maps Three maps showing the surviving historic buildings of Camelford. Format type: PDF 252kb
Figure 6 - Urban Archaeological Potential Map Map showing the areas and sites of archaeological potential in Camelford.

Format type: PDF

356kb

Figure 7 - Character Areas Map Map showing the seven character areas identified by the survey of Camelford.

Format type: PDF

356kb

Character Area 1 - Medieval Camelford and the valley. Camelford’s most complex and most extensive Character Area, incorporating the whole of the 13th-century planted market town, plus the bridge and the area immediately to its east where the spinal road attracted development. It is still the heart of modern Camelford. There are several clearly distinguishable sub-areas, but each of these has direct relationships with the others, making a coherent and easily understood whole. The sub-rectangular market place with commercial and public buildings along both sides. Bridge at medieval crossing point (formerly a ford). A main street (Fore Street and the lower part of Victoria Road) extending the market place at either end and following the pre-existing long-distance routeway. A secondary medieval street (Back/Chapel Street), its higher parts formed a significant service quarter. Triangular area between Fore and Back Streets with distinctive opeways linking the two streets. The irregular strip of land between Fore Street and the Camel, divided by rear extensions of buildings and more opeways that provide access to the rears of buildings. Short stretches of probably post-medieval development along two side streets, one either side of the bridge, Mill Lane and College Road. Enfield Park, an area of open ground now a municipal garden, established in 1922.

Format type: PDF

547 kb
Character Area 2 -  Fairground area. At the top of the medieval town’s two southern streets, where the slope levels out, is the site of Camelford’s fairground, known as The Clease. It was probably an integral part of the original medieval planted town complex, especially given that the 1260 charter provided for an annual three-day fair in the middle of July. Shown on a 1753 map as an irregular open area with a lane crossing it, on the line of the present Clease Road. Encroached upon in piecemeal fashion, especially by buildings, enclosures and a livestock market in the 19th and 20th centuries. These developments had the effect of fragmenting the former open space, leaving the area with a confused, unresolved, and under-appreciated air. The Clease has become a transition area between Camelford’s historic core and its modern extensions on the higher land to the north-west and south-west.

Format type: PDF

353kb

Character Area 3. High Street An essentially linear development along the main road out of town to the south, an extension of Fore Street beyond the pinch point at the Co-op. Most buildings are on the east side, suggesting that this was speculative development on the land of one of the town’s landlords. A line of beeches on the hedge to the south is also urban design and emphasises the gateway quality of this part of Camelford for travellers approaching from the south. Most buildings are shown on a 1753 map of the town and many, while fairly plain, have distinctively early features such as massive stacks (some perhaps 17th century?) and uneven patterns of fenestration. Although predominantly dwellings, there are several stores, semi-industrial buildings, and carriage arches through to rear yards, and shops. There were also two former inns. This mix of former uses still gives this area a distinctively workaday character.

Format type: PDF

484kb
Character Area 4. Victoria and Trefrew Roads An area of mainly 19th century residential development along the road leading out of Camelford to the east, Victoria Road. Dominated by a fine row of early 19th century cottages set back from the north side of the road above terraced and sloping gardens. They share a build line but have varied forms and finishes suggesting they were speculative developments. Most were in place by 1841 as were the small Bible Christian chapel and Sunday School. A small farmstead where the lane leads off to Tregoodwell and Roughtor, now called Dairy Cottage, marks the eastward extent of the Character Area. It also includes the 17th century Culloden (formerly a small farmstead), the Countryman guest house (late Victorian, on the site of a turnpike tollhouse), and the substantial Victorian villas along Trefrew Road. There has been some later 20th century residential infilling and extensions to the built-up area (again largely to the north of the main road) are ongoing.

Format type: PDF

347kb

   

You need Adobe Acrobat Reader 6 to view these documents. Download a free copy by clicking the logo
   
 home > towns > camelford
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
frequently asked questions general credits terms & conditions © 2005. Historic Environment Service Last Updated: 1/11/2005