Cornish Heritage in Penzance - Programme of Activities

Cornish Heritage in Penzance activities can be found by clicking one of the categories below

Presentations at Cornish Heritage in Penzance

'Evolution of the Cornish Pirates Rugby Team', by Phil Westren

Thursday 18th May, 7.00pm. The first talk will be by Phil Westren who will give an illustrated presentation on the 'Evolution of the Cornish Pirates Rugby Team'.  Drawing on archival photographs, the talk will start with the origins of rugby in Cornwall right up to the present day. Phil is Vice President of Penzance & Newlyn RFC and Cornish pirates Media Officer. As a former player he played over 560 games for the Pirates and has subsequently held numerous offices within the club.

'Madron Workhouse', by Roy Blewett

Thursday 1st June, 7.00pm. Roy Blewett will give an illustrated talk on the history of Madron Workhouse. Roy will explain why Madron Workhouse was built in the nineteenth century to house the very poorest people of the nineteen parishes making up Penzance Union. He will speak about the key events and reveal histories of some unfortunate inmates of the Workhouse. Roy Blewett is the Recorder of Madron Old Cornwall Society. 

'The History of Penlee Lifeboat', by Martin Brockman

Thursday 15th June, 7.00pm. Martin Brockman, an RNLI education volunteer, will take us through an audio-visual journey of the history of Penzance, Newlyn and Penlee Lifeboats, from the rowing boats of 1803 to those of the present day.

Martin comes from a RNLI family, his father, Nigel, was one of the crew of the ill-fated 'Solomon Browne' Lifeboat lost in December 1981 when Martin was just 10 years old. Martin's Brother Neil was a crew member of the 'Solomon Browne' and was turned away on that night and was to remain as crew for the RNLI for over 30 years, 16 as a decorated Coxswain at Penlee.


The Dr Borlase Project

Is there an aspect of Penwith history you are curious about? Join a short term project to research and share a specific piece of Penwith History, of your choosing, with a small group of people.

Cornish Heritage in Penzance has received funding from the Penwith Landscape Partnership to run a project on Dr William Borlase, rightly known as the 'The Father of Cornish Studies' (1696-1772).  As part of this we will run a short-term Penwith history project where participants identify an aspect of Penwith history to research. The group will follow a 'manifesto' derived from the way in which Dr Borlase himself worked:

The Borlase 'Manifesto'

  1. Choose a topic about Penwith's natural history or historic environment, or the Cornish language of Penwith.
  2. Produce a tightly-written notebook of observations.
  3. Correspond with someone (probably within the group) about your research, preferably by handwritten letter!
  4. Teach someone.
  5. Publish (online, or hard copy).

Contact us to find out more at:


The first exhibitions at Cornish Heritage in Penzance begin on 1 August 2023 with the theme for our first year is 'Cornish Curiosity'.  We will look at the people and institutions behind the development of our knowledge of Cornwall.

Dr William Borlase - Pioneer of Cornish Research in the eighteenth century. Dr Borlase was Rector of Ludgvan and St Just, and the author of 'The Antiquities of Cornwall' and the 'Natural History of Cornwall'.

'Tell Me What's Happening in My Duchy of Cornwall !'  This exhibition will explore The Register of Edward the Black Prince 1351-1365 - a twice weekly record of events in the Duchy of Cornwall in the fourteenth century, compiled by the Duke's officials to inform the first Duke of Cornwall.

Dr Barham's Questions - Dr Barham, a surgeon from Truro, was commissioned to write a report on the work, homelife and health of children and young people working in the Cornish mines. His investigations and questions led to the 1842 Report which includes first-hand accounts from young people.

A Building for The Curious - This building, the former Penzance Public Library building, has a long history of nurturing the curious. It began its life as the Penzance Mining and Science School. The exhibition will look at the history of this much-loved civic building and the stories of the people behind its operation.