Small harbour-side town at the head of a creek


Penryn Town Council


Today, Penryn is a quiet town and has retained a large amount of its heritage. With a large proportion of its buildings dating back to Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian times, the town has been designated as an important conservation area. The local museum is housed in the Town Hall. Penryn has a small but active Rotary Club. It is situated on the Penryn River about one mile north-west of Falmouth. Though now the town is overshadowed by the larger nearby town of Falmouth, Penryn was once an important harbour in its own right, lading granite and tin to be shipped to other parts of the country and world during the medieval period. The A39 road used to run through the town but it was by-passed in 1994 and the road through the town is now the B3292. The population of the town was 8,439 at the 2011 census.

The Borough of Penryn was enfranchised by the Bishop of Exeter in 1236 and in 1258 Henry III granted a weekly market in the town. Around the same time, Penryn was granted a Charter Fair to be held yearly on the Feast of St. Thomas the Martyr (after whom a street in the town is named). Six years later, the Collegiate Church of Glasney was founded, where the Antron River enters the Penryn Creek. It was built with stone from Caen in France. Today all that remains is just a portion of a wall and an arch, it was destroyed by Henry VIII during his dissolution of the Monasteries. Glasney College was founded in 1265 by Bishop Bronescombe and was a centre of ecclesiastical power in medieval Cornwall and probably the best known and most important of Cornwall's religious institutions until its dissolution and demolition in 1548.

In 1312, another annual fair was granted by Edward II for the three days beginning with that of Saint Vitalis the Martyr. Soon the small town had become a busy port and half the population of Penryn consisted of foreigners. There were 22 substantial merchants recorded as paying the subsidy, compared with 33 at Helston and 42 at Truro. Penryn was granted its Royal Charter in 1621 by Kings James 1st.

By the 18th century, there was a large commercial centre along the river, with quays for the coal yards and quarried granite, warehouses for merchants and chandlers' shops. Today the remaining old buildings are used for other purposes, but, in its heyday, Penryn exported dressed granite all over the world. The stone used in Gibraltar, Singapore and Buenos Aires, among many other places. Closer to home, it was used to construct London Bridge and the South Bank.

It is said a ghostly coach, drawn by headless horses appears just before Christmas each year in Penryn. People must avert their eyes when it passes or they will be spirited away.

Nowadays, the town is more or less connected to the newer port of Falmouth. However it still retains its individuality, partly due to its situation on a promontory between two creeks. It is still a busy little town. Although Falmouth has been the main trading centre for many years, Penryn is still a centre for sailing and so there are still boatyards and chandlers. In addition, many newer industries flourish in the town.

Much of the old granite town has been restored in recent years and Penryn has its share of shops and galleries. There are steep, cobbled streets and even an old water pump in a tiny secluded square. The centre boasts an attractive clock tower and there is a museum in the town hall. There are several restaurants, cafes and pubs in the town, including the 200 year old Kings Arms, and many, many more in nearby Falmouth.

Penryn is a convenient centre from which to visit much of west and mid-Cornwall and it is largely overlooked by the tourist industry, unlike many other towns and villages in the area. The beautiful Helford River is nearby, and the towns of Falmouth, Helston and Truro are very close. The area also offers a wide variety of self-catering accommodation. There are lovely sandy beaches within a short distance and many walks through woodland and along river banks.

Penryn railway station was opened by the Cornwall Railway on 24th August 1863. It is towards the north west end of the town and is served by regular trains from Truro to Falmouth on the Maritime Line.

The town's most recent development is the Tremough Campus - which is part of both the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth. The name Tremough translates into pig farm, although prior to becoming the university campus it was a catholic convent school. The 70-acre estate, complete with country house, has had in the region of £80 million of new buildings developed under the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative.

Falmouth University received degree-awarding powers, and the right to use the title "University College", in March 2005. In April 2008, University College Falmouth merged with Dartington College of Arts, adding a range of Performance courses to its portfolio. On 27th November 2012, a communication was released to the staff and students and local press that 'University College Falmouth is to be granted full university status in a move that will further its ambition to become one of the top five arts universities in the world.

Notable Residents

Frederick Hamilton Davey (1868–1915) was an amateur botanist born at nearby Ponsanooth who devoted most of his leisure time to the study of the flora of Cornwall.

Emma Hosken (1845–1884), novelist, was born in Penryn.

Vic Roberts (1924–2004), British Lion and England rugby union international born in and played for Penryn RFC.

William Harris Rule (1802–1890), Methodist missionary was born in Penryn.

John Tucker Williams (1789–1854), Canadian soldier and politician, was born in Penryn.

Roger Hosen, (1933-2005) Rugby player, born in Mabe, near Penryn who played rugby for England ten times in the 1960's.

Art Galleries

Robin Falvey Gallery

Tom Holland Gallery


Penryn Arts Festival - end of May.

Penryn Week - early July.

Penryn Fair Day - mid August.

Penryn Kemeneth - mid October.


Cafes in Penryn


Pubs in Penryn

Falmouth       Helston       Truro       Carclew House & Gardens       Enys Gardens       Penryn Museum

Argal Reservoir       Stithians       Stithians Lake Country Park       Lanterns

Bosvathick House and Garden       Flicka Donkey Sanctuary