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Penryn harbour chain and defences

In the civil parish of Penryn.
In the historic county of Cornwall.
Modern Authority of Cornwall.
1974 county of Cornwall.
Medieval County of Cornwall.

OS Map Grid Reference: SW790342
Latitude 50.16730° Longitude -5.09586°

Penryn harbour chain and defences has been described as a probable Chain Tower.

There are no visible remains.


Leland writes "The first creek on the north-west side of Falmouth Houbour leads to Penryn, where it divides into two. The smaller leads to Glassiney College, a kind of green nest or quagmire at Penryn, and the other to the parish church of Penryn, St Gluvias. One arm breaks out of Penryn Creek on each side before it reaches the town. Just below the place where the creek divides into two there are stakes and stone foundations set in the water, with a chain across a gap in the middle."

The defences of Penryn harbour are described in 1538 as "stakes and foundations of stone sette in the creeke at Penrine afore the town, a little laver than wher it brekith into armes, ...A gap in the middle of the stakes, and a chain" (Peter). These fortifications are probably those shown on a copy of a map of c1580, at approximately SW 791 342 (Toulmin-Smith). However, Wingfield referring to the remains of some defences found in 1904, implies that the creek was also defended prior to 1588 during the threat of a Spanish invasion (Wingfiled). It may be that those shown on the c1580 map are the latter. It should be noted that the alleged remains of the (strictly) post-medieval defences (18658) may have been part of this medieval structure. They consisted of a stockade of elm wood piles in rows approx 2.4m apart, filled in with timber (Wingfield). (Cornwall & Scilly HER)

There are no remains and the site it is little know. Pirates were active in the area but the artillery forts of Pendennis and St Mawes must have made any such defence obsolete, although given the amount of smuggling in the area, the role of the harbour defence, a stacked fence and chain, may have been, at least in part, about revenue collection.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:22:23

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