Penryn, Cornwall

Cornish: Pennrynn

St Gluvias Street, Penryn
 Penryn shown within Cornwall
Population 6,812 (Census 2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSW782345
Civil parishPenryn
Unitary authorityCornwall Council
Ceremonial countyCornwall
RegionSouth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town PENRYN
Postcode district TR10
Dialling code 01326
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK ParliamentTruro and Falmouth
List of places

Coordinates: 50°10′08″N 5°06′25″W / 50.169°N 5.107°W / 50.169; -5.107

Penryn (/pɛnˈrɪn/[2] Cornish: Pennrynn,[3] meaning 'promontory') is a civil parish and town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Penryn River about 1 mile (1.6 km) north-west of Falmouth.[4] The population was 7,166 in the 2001 census and a receded 6,812 in the 2011 census, a drop of more than 300 people across the ten year time gap.[5] There are two electoral wards covering Penryn: 'Penryn East and Mylor' and 'Penryn West'. The total population of both wards in the 2011 census was 9,790[6][7]

Though now the town is overshadowed by the larger nearby town of Falmouth, Penryn was once an important harbour in its own right, exporting granite and tin to the rest of the country (and indeed the world) throughout the medieval period.


Early history

Prayer Book Rebellion Memorial, near the site of Glasney College

Penryn is one of Cornwall's most ancient towns and boasts a wealth of history. The ancient town first appears in the Domesday Book under the name of "Trelivel", and was since founded and named Penryn in 1216 by the Bishop of Exeter. The borough was enfranchised and its Charter of Incorporation was made in 1236. The contents of this Charter were embodied in a confirmation by Bishop Walter Bronescombe in the year 1259.[8] In 1265, a religious college, called Glasney College, was built in Penryn for the Bishop of Exeter to develop the church's influence in the far west of the diocese. In 1374, the chapel of St Thomas (sometimes called St Mary's) was opened. Standing at the head of the Penryn River, Penryn occupies a sheltered position and was a port of some significance in the 15th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII and the disestablishing of the Roman Catholic church, Glasney College was dissolved and demolished in 1548 during the brief reign of Edward VI, the first Protestant Duke of Cornwall and afterwards King of England. The dissolution of Glasney College helped trigger the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. The loss of Glasney and the defeat of the 1549 rebellion proved to be a turning point in the history of the town from which Penryn has never recovered.

Later history

Jubilee Wharf

From 1554, Penryn held a parliamentary constituency, which became Penryn and Falmouth in 1832. The constituency was abolished in 1950, with Penryn becoming part of the Falmouth and Camborne constituency. It received a royal charter as a borough in 1621, mainly in a bid by the crown to cure the town of piracy. At least three mayors of Penryn were convicted of piracy between 1550 and 1650. The arms of the borough of Penryn were Sa. a Saracen's head Or in a bordure of eight bezants.[9] The merchant traveller and writer Peter Mundy (c1600-1667) was son of a Penryn pilchard trader and travelled extensively throughout his life in Asia (where he was one of the first Europeans to taste Chaa), Russia and Europe before returning to Penryn to write his Itinerarium Mundi ('World Itinerary'); one of the earliest travel guides in English.[10]

By the mid 17th century the port was thriving with the trade in Cornish fish, tin and copper. However, Penryn lost its custom house and market rights to the new town of Falmouth as a direct result of supporting the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War (1642–48). The Killigrews of Arwenack were more skilful turncoats, and as their new town grew so the older port of Penryn declined from the 17th century right up to today.

In the early 19th century, granite works were established by the river and large quantities of the stone were shipped from its quays for construction projects both within the UK and abroad.

The A39 road, which begins in Bath and is about 200 miles (320 km) long, once passed through Penryn towards the end of its route in nearby Falmouth, but in 1994 was diverted around the town when the Penryn Bypass was opened, incorporating a stretch of new road along with upgrading to an existing road.

The town is the setting of the play The Penryn Tragedy, which tells of a young man unwittingly murdered by his parents after disguising himself as a rich stranger.[11]

Present day Penryn

Market Street, looking south
Collegewood railway viaduct

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.

Penryn is twinned with Audierne in Brittany, France.


Penryn railway station was opened by the Cornwall Railway on 24 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.


Higher education

See also: Penryn Campus

In 2004, the Penryn Campus was completed, creating the hub of the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project. It proviInstitute of Cornish Studies and the University of Exeter's world-renowned Camborne School of Mines, which has moved from Camborne, where it has been for over a century. The Campus also houses departments of Falmouth University, which is based in the centre of Falmouth. In 2007, phase two was completed, which includes increased student accommodation and new teaching areas.


There are currently two schools in Penryn:

Sport and leisure

Penryn RFC, founded in 1872 is a rugby union club which plays in the Tribute Western Counties West league; the seventh tier of the English rugby union league system. They are nicknamed "The Borough".[13]

Penryn Athletic (founded 1963) is a non-League football club who play at the 1,500 capacity Kernick Road ground. The club is a member of the South West Peninsula League Division One West, which is a step 7 league in the national league system. Also known as "The Borough".


The policing of the area is the responsibility of Devon and Cornwall Police who have a dedicated team to cover the area; The Penryn & Mylor local Policing Team.[14]

Notable residents

Penryn was the home of Thomas Pellow (born circa 1704) who spent 23 years as a white slave in Morocco. Pellow's story is told in his autobiography, The History of the Long Captivity and Adventures of Thomas Pellow (1740) and in Giles Milton's 2007 book White Gold: the extraordinary story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's one million white slaves.


  1. Neighbourhood Statistics for the Parish of Penryn from ONS (accessed 8 February 2015).
  2. BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names; new ed.; edited & transcribed by G. E. Pointon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983; p. 191
  3. "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" (PDF). Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
  4. Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 204 Truro & Falmouth ISBN 978-0-319-23149-4
  5. "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  6. "Ward population for Penryn East & Mylor 2011". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. "Ward population for Penryn West 2011". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  8. Roddis
  9. Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall: Lodenek Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-902899-76-7.
  11. "Penryn Cornwall, tourist guide & map, events, accommodation, businesses, history, photos, videos". Into Cornwall. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  12. Penryn College website
  13. Salmon, Tom (1983). The First Hundred Years. Illogan: Cornwall RFU. ISBN 0 946664 01 3.


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