Cornwall & The South: Pt 22 – Falmouth

After an exciting day trip out to the Isles of Scilly, we started a new day of exploration, in the coastal town of Falmouth, in South Cornwall…


Status: Cornwall Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 07/08/2016

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Falmouth Harbour, Falmouth Docks, Quayside Inn, King’s Pipe, Old Post Office, Art Gallery & Library, Central Methodist Church, Old Customs House, King Charles Church, St George’s Arcade, Packet Monument, River Fal, Penryn River, Carrick Roads etc

Fal 1

We started down by the Harbour, a familiar, fishing boat laden Cornish Quayside full of history. Aside from the towns skyline which lay in front of us, including the Tower of Falmouth Parish Church, a number of buildings stood out, starting with the “Marine Hotel” located directly beneath the Church Tower.

Together with the neighbouring “Chain Locker” its form a set of Inns, originally built in the 18th Century alongside a Warehouse which was eventually converted into the “Shipwrights” Inn.

Moving round to the left is the “Quayside Inn”, a charming 19th Century Inn, along with the “Customs House” of 1814 which would have controlled the import and export of goods into the town.

Fal 2

Heading up towards the High Street, we passed the “King’s Pipe”, a tall brick chimney built around 1814, the same time as the Customs House. It was used to incinerate any contraband tobacco smuggled into the town.

The main entrance to the Customs House is located on the High Street which runs in front of it, marked by a magnificent set of the British Coat of Arms, with the English Lion to the left, and the Scottish Unicorn to the right.

Much of the High Street is characterised by fine 19th Century buildings, many of which were originally built as Town, or Terraced Houses and later incorporated into new shops. The streets of the town centre are all closely knit, designed and laid out long before the invention of the car, a paradise of back streets, Inns and local shops.

Following the High Street round, we arrived outside the Church of King Charles, a stunning 17th Century Ashlar edifice.

The original building was completed in 1665, although it has seen various updates and improvements since. In 1684 the tower was added, and later heightened to include a clock in 1800. The rest of the building was then extended in 1861 with a new vestry, before the whole Church was restored by Edmund Harold Sedding (1863 – 1921, Devonian Architect) in 1896.

A typical British Red Telephone Box greets you as you climb the stairs to the Churchyard which offers a great view of the whole Church, as well as…

Fal 7

… a lovely panoramic view of the “Carrick Roads”, the name given to the estuary of the River Fal which gave the town its name. The Fal joins the Penryn River in the towns harbour, before heading out into the English Channel to the South.

There are many interesting and varied buildings up and down the High Street which are both historic and aesthetically significant. Two in particular stood out:

  1. St George’s Arcade: The stunning facade was originally home to the first cinema to be built in Falmouth, in 1912. Today it has been converted into a shopping arcade, whilst still retaining its historic qualities.
  2. Numbers 54 & 55 Church Street: These 19th century shops are unique in the town, thanks to their bowed glass shop windows, and sit almost opposite the Arcade.

The centre of town is located around a large square called “The Moor”, just off the High Street, which contains some of the towns most important buildings:

1) The Old Post Office Building: This large building, whose entrance is fronted by a number of Red Phone Boxes was completed in 1930, and sits on the previous home of Falmouth Market. It has just been refurbished, and it is thought Falmouth Town Council will move in shortly. They previously resided next door in the Art Gallery (shown right)…

2) Falmouth Art Gallery: The Art Gallery was completed in 1896, to designs by W. H. Tresidder, and incorporated a Council Chamber, Art School and Library. With the Town Council moving next door only the Library and Art School (now Gallery) remain, although a new Museum may also be moved in.

Elsewhere on the Moor you will find:

1) The Packet Monument: A tall, granite obelisk completed in 1898 as a monument to “The Memory of the Gallant Officers and Men of H M Post Office and Packet Service sailing from Falmouth 1688-1852).

Falmouth was an important Packet Station for the Postal Service, with ships bringing post into and out of the busy port. It was a hazardous job however, as between the 17th – 19th centuries various wars involved Great Britain, making the ships a target for enemy attacks.

2) Falmouth Methodist Church: The Methodist Church, perhaps more than most buildings in Falmouth has a tumultuous history. Originally built in 1791 as a Chapel, it was redesigned and rebuilt to its present look in 1876. Sadly it was bombed out during WWII and had to be rebuilt, although it wasn’t completed until 1956.

Our last stop was up on “Pendennis Rise”, a hill which overlooks the towns impressive Dockyard. Served by it’s own railway station, the Docks are a hive of activity, with multiple cranes across the skyline. The Docks contain a number of enormous dry docks where ship repairs and refits can be carried out, and you can see from the picture their sheer size.

Just behind the various cranes, and pleasure vessel masts in the Harbour lies the rest of the town, with the Church Tower easily visible over to the left.

Falmouth is a picturesque, historic town with many interesting landmarks to visit. Good transport links make it the ideal place to spend the day, with the A394 Main Road running between Devon and Penzance not far away. Local rail links provide stations at Falmouth Town, Falmouth Docks and nearby Penryn, with regular trains back to the Cornish City of Truro.

It was time to move on, and our next destination was the most extreme Southern tip on the island of Great Britain, Lizard Point…


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