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Exploring Penzance

Updated: May 24, 2023

Penzance is often overlooked for its prettier neighbours, Mousehole and St Ives but this historic harbour town is well worth a visit.

Penzance began life as a small fishing village and by the 14th century was a busy market town. The boom in tin mining in the18th century saw the town grow both in size and importance and in 1769 it was described as a ‘place of considerable note’. Following the opening of the railway in 1852, Penzance became a popular tourist resort.

The Egyptian House - one of the most striking buildings in historic Chapel Street in Penzance
The ornate facade of the historic Egyptian House in Penzance

No visit to Penzance is complete without a visit to historic Chapel Street. Once a major thoroughfare, it is home to some wonderful 18th century buildings which today house some of the town’s best shops. Favourites include No 56 (beautiful and utilitarian homewares), East of Here (Oriental rugs and accessories), Steckfensters (vintage homewares) and Daisy Laing (mid-century lighting and furniture).

The exotic 19th century Egyptian House is undoubtedly the most striking building in the street and is now the headquarters of Pure Nuff Stuff who make natural toiletries and cosmetics including the soaps provided in our cottages.

Historic pubs include The Turk’s Head, The Admiral Benbow and The Union Hotel where the victory of the battle of Trafalgar was first announced after local fishermen intercepted HMS Pickle on her way to Falmouth.

Music lovers should call in at St Mary’s Church which hosts a series of lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays at 1.15pm. 

Look out for the brick-faced Rotterdam Buildings which were built with money from Dutch prizes taken by a Penzance privateer. At the time brick was regarded as being of higher status than granite. Maria Branwell, the mother of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell Bronte, lived in number 25.

Between the town centre and the Promenade lie the wonderful Morrab Gardens - a sub-tropical oasis in the centre of the town and a great spot for a picnic. In its centre is Morrab Library, an independent subscription library founded in 1818.

The Savoy Cinema in Causeway Head opened in 1912 and is the longest continuously running cinema in Britain.  

The Art Deco Jubilee Pool - the largest saltwater lido in the UK
The iconic Jubilee Pool on Penzance's Promenade

With its sweeping art deco curves, the Jubilee Pool is one of Penzance’s best-known landmarks. It was opened in 1935 and is Britain’s largest surviving seawater lido. It was badly damaged during the storms of 2014 but has now been restored to its former glory.

. Penlee House Gallery and Museum houses an important collection of works by the Newlyn School and Lamorna Group of artists. Founded in 1839, the museum has artefacts covering 6,000 years of history in west Cornwall. The Orangery Cafe overlooks the park in which the museum is set and is a lovely spot for a drink or snack. Tucked away just off Market Jew Street, The Exchange is the second gallery of The Newlyn Art Gallery. The former telephone exchange plays host to contemporary art exhibitions, live performances, film screenings and community events. #penzance #cornwall #jubileepool #chapelstreet #theegyptianhouse #explorecornwall #lovecornwall #lovepenzance #kernow

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