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Cornwall's History and Heritage

Cornwall's rich history and heritage, from Arthurian legends, mining and industry, steam railways and an incredible maritime past gives you much to explore and discover.

Castles

  • Chysauster Ancient Village, Penzance - Iron Age settlement around 2,000 years old.  Stone-walled homesteads known as 'courtyard houses', found only around Land's End and the Isles of Scilly.
  • Launceston Castle, Launceston - Dates from the early years of the Norman conquest. Towering over the town, it was a reminder of the power of the Earls (later Dukes) of Cornwall. 
  • Pendennis Castle, Falmouth - 450 years of fascinating history can be discovered, from Henry VIII's coastal stronghold to its last military role as a secret Second World War base.
  • Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel - Surrounded by a deep, dry moat and perched on a high mound, the huge circular keep of this Norman castle survives in good condition. 
  • St Mawes Castle, St Mawes - St Mawes Castle was built near the waterline by Henry VIII to guard the entrance to the safe anchorage in the Carrick Roads. 
  • Tintagel Castle, Tintagel - In a spectacular setting on the North Cornwall coast, it has long been one of the county's most popular attractions.  Steeped in Arthurian legend you can still visit Merlin's cave. 

Heritage sites

  • Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Bodmin - Discover the excitement and nostalgia of steam travel; journey through beautiful countryside on Cornwall's only full size railway still operated by steam locomotives.
  • Carnglaze Slate Caverns, Liskeard - 3 caverns formed as part of a slate quarry. The Rum Store cavern, is so called because the Navy used it to store rum in WWII. Recently used as a concert venue. 
  • Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Centre, Charlestown - The artefacts on display are the largest private collection of this type and one of the most unusual and interesting on display in Europe.
  • Geevor Tin Mine, Lands End - Mining museum, heritage centre, shop and café set in beautiful coastal scenery.  Underground tours into Wheal Mexico, where Cornish miners toiled more than 200 years ago. 
  • The Jamaica Inn,  is the Old Coaching Tavern made famous by Daphne Du Maurier, and which she based her story of wreckers. Situated just off the A30, in the middle of wild and beautiful Bodmin Moor.
  • King Edward Mine, Camborne - A typical small Cornish mine of the first decade of the 20th century.  Remarkably it has survived almost intact and today is the oldest complete mine site in Cornwall.
  • Levant Mine & Beam Engine, near Penzance - Unique steam-powered Cornish beam engine in action. Part of a World Heritage Site, the only Cornish beam engine in the world still in steam on its original site.
  • Poldark Mine, Helston  - Genuine 18th century Cornish tin mine featuring guided underground tours.  Museum, entertainments, gardens, restaurant, gift shops and craft workshops. 
  • St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, St Austell - Tour Cornwall's oldest independent family brewery, established for over 150 years. Many original traditions and skills remain at the heart of our beers today.
  • Tintagel Old Post Office, Tintagel - 14th century building on the plan of a medieval yeoman farm house, with a large hall. Used in the 19th century as a letter receiving office and restored as such. 
  • Cornish Mining World Heritage Site - Information on Cornish mines and mining which are part of an important World Heritage Site.

Museums

  • Maritime Museum, Falmouth - Dipping its toe in Falmouth's harbour, the multi-award winning National Maritime Museum Cornwall celebrates the sea, boats and Cornwall, with 15 stunning galleries.
  • The Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle - Houses the world's largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia.  Located in Boscastle for 50 years it is amongst Cornwall's most popular museums.
  • Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance - Public gallery specialising in the Newlyn School artists.  Also covers West Cornwall's archaeology and social history.  Set in an elegant Victorian house and park.
  • Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Penzance - Became a communications centre in 1870 when pioneering engineers laid an undersea cable network from the beach to India and the British Empire.
  • Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro - Over the years it has acquired a wide and varied collection encompassing all aspects of Cornwall's history, culture and environment both ancient and modern. 

Other

  • Tate Gallery - This magnificent gallery is situated in the heart of St.Ives and is home to some of the finest local and national art work. The gallery is part of the Tate Gallery in London, and is a real draw for tourists and residents in the area.
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan - The Lost Gardens of Heligan near St.Austell provide a great day out for all visitors and residents of Cornwall. Set in over 300-acres, The Lost Gardens are some of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK.
  • Lappa Valley Steam Railway - Lappa Valley Steam Railway located near Newquay is a fantastic trip for young families and couples. There are three miniature lines to choose from, and the ticket office and car parking can be found in Benny Halt.
  • Pinsla Garden & Nursery - Romantic 1½ acre artist’s garden with flowery cottage garden planting. Decorative level paths make it easy to stroll around and lose yourself in beauty and nature. Pinsla is excellent for wildlife with myriad birds, butterflies and insects. Garden entry £3. Entry to the plant nursery is free, (good selection of plants and garden sculpture). Open daily 9am to 5.30pm from 23rd Feb – 31st Oct.
  • Tolgus Tin Mill - Tolgus Tin Mill is now the only original working example left in the country. An ongoing restoration project, the mill was established in 1865 and is home to the mighty Cornish stamps. Free to enter, Tolgus Mill still recovers and smelts tin onsite which is used for its own jewellry collection which helps pay for its preservation.