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Penryn

Penryn developed as a medieval market town and port. It was a borough from 1236. During the later historic period the town became important for granite quarrying and as an industrial centre.

Penryn is situated at the head of the tidal part of the Penryn River, an offshoot from the larger Carrick Roads or Fal estuary that runs from Falmouth to Truro at the head of its tidal extent. The town sits astride a natural promontory from which it gets its name: pen rynn ‘head or end of a point’. At the nose of this ridge the river splits and creeks run to medieval ecclesiastical complexes: west to Glasney and the Glasney Creek (also known as Antron or College stream) and north-west to St Gluvias and the St Gluvias Creek. Glasney sits in a deep valley running in from the south-west in which there are two modern reservoirs (College and Argal) while the Treluswell Stream coming in from the north-west to St Gluvias has tributaries that deeply dissect the country immediately inland of Penryn. The old main roads into Penryn linked it with Helston (via Helston Road, a ridge way running on to become Lower Market and Broad Streets) and with the towns (Redruth and Truro) to the north. The latter road (Church and Commercial Streets) became part of the A39 trunk road which has recently been diverted to the west of the town as it feeds traffic more speedily into Falmouth. Penryn railway station is to the west of the town. But Penryn’s main historical connections with the world were by water, from its eastern quays. New housing to the west separates the historic town from the small ornamental landscape of Tremough, once the country estate of the Sampsons and Shilsons (now the site of the new Combined Universities in Cornwall). To the north Enys is the former country estate of the Enys family and to the south is Kernick House. The surrounding area has been defined in the Cornwall Historic Landscape Characterisation as predominantly of Anciently Enclosed Land (predominantly farmland of medieval origin), with an area of Recently Enclosed Land to the west around Tremough and an area of AEL altered in the 18th and 19th Centuries to the north of the town, in the river valley of the north river. To the north and north-east, near Pencoose and Bissom, the anciently enclosed land that dominates the countryside beyond Penryn contains some well-defined medieval strip fields.

To the west the area is dominated by the eastern portion of the Carnmenellis granite, a weathered and rusty brown stone. On the edge of the granite at Lower Kergillack the granite has decomposed forming china clay.

Downloads:
The downloads offered below represent the different elements of the CSUS Penryn 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.
 

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

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4414kb

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

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529kb
Figure 2 - Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (c.1907) Map showing the town of Penryn in c.1907.

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870kb
Figure 3 - Historic Development Map Map showing the historic development and expansion of Penryn.

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478kb
Figure 4 - Historic Settlement Topography Map Map showing the historic topography of Penryn with key areas of historic activity.

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496kb
Figures 5 - Surviving Historic Components Maps Three maps showing the surviving historic buildings of Penryn. Format type: PDF 461kb
Figure 6 - Urban Archaeological Potential Map Map showing the areas and sites of archaeological potential in Penryn.

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602kb

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

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468kb

Character Area 1. Medieval commercial core Historically this is the town’s primary urban area, recognised as the town centre and forming the main commercial street. The underlying topography of the area is largely of medieval origin with the main street set along the ridge of the promontory, swollen by the width of the former market place and lined with the remains of the narrow fronted medieval burgage strips. The former market house (now Town Hall annex and Museum), set in its island location between Upper and Lower Market Streets, forms an iconic image of the town. The area has a high level of surviving historic buildings, including many prestigious three-storey town houses, some now converted for commercial use. There is a good collection of historic shop fronts, notably one important survival from the 18th century. Courts of houses, built at the back of plots, set at right angles to the street and reached by ope ways are a distinctive feature of this area.

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500 kb
Character Area 2. Mercantile quarter Dominated by high quality merchants’ houses and prestigious town houses, this is one of the most architecturally impressive and cohesive parts of Penryn. Of particular significance is the 17th century surviving jettied merchant’s house in St Thomas Street. Much of the area’s urban topography dates to the medieval town, including the historically significant bridging point at the bottom of St Thomas Street. The area forms a gateway to the town centre, and also includes important town spaces, notably ‘Fish Cross’ formed by a road junction surrounded by a cluster of civic structures. Two important green spaces are also features of the area; the bowling green with medieval origins and the Memorial Park created to commemorate the bombing of the town during the Second World War.

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Character Area 3. Maritime and industrial Penryn - Glasney This area has historically been the economic powerhouse of the town. It has been the focus of much maritime and industrial activity, including the site of the medieval quay, the inner harbour and the 17th century Exchequer Quay. The culturally important site of Glasney College lies within the area. The character of this area is changing rapidly with the loss of maritime and industrial uses which previously defined it, being replaced by a greater amount of residential redevelopment. The area holds the key to reconnecting the town with its waterfront and is crucially important in the future success of the town.

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Character Area 4. Maritime and industrial Penryn - Gluvias This area is important in the maritime, industrial and commercial activities of the town. Much of the area is built on made-ground reclaimed from the estuary during the 18th and 19th centuries when the industrial activities of the town were expanding. It is now the most commercially vibrant part of the town and acts as an internal bypass relieving traffic pressure from the town centre. There is a relatively good survival of high quality 19th century warehouse structures, notably seen along the atmospheric waterfront elevation of Commercial Road. There is also a notable collection of early 20th century art-deco detailed commercial buildings.

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Character Area 5. Residential urban suburbs This area is now dominated by residential use; however, historically it had a more mixed pattern of use with evidence of former shops, industrial processes and workshops. The area is based on a framework of ancient routes which were later built along in ribbon development as the town expanded during the 17th century onwards. The area includes St Gluvias churchtown - a lann site and important pre-urban focus. It also includes the remains of a medieval strip field system.

Format type: PDF

505kb

   

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