[kawrn-wawl or, especially Brit., -wuhl]
Cornwall, Barry, pseud. of Bryan Waller Procter, 1787-1874, English author. His sentimental songs were much in vogue during his lifetime. Included among Cornwall's longer works are Dramatic Scenes (1819) and Mirandola (1821), a tragedy. He enjoyed the friendship of many of the notable men of his time, including Charles Lamb, of whom he wrote a biography which appeared in 1866. He was the father of the poet Adelaide Procter.

See his Literary Recollections (ed. by R. W. Armour, 1936); biography by R. W. Armour (1935).

Cornwall, county (1991 pop. 469,300), SW England, administratively (since 2009) a unitary authority. Bodmin was the county seat, but the local government is now based in Truro. Cornwall is a peninsula bounded seaward by the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean and landward by Devon. It terminates in the west with the rugged promontory of Land's End. The region is a low-lying plateau, rising to its greatest height at Brown Willy (1,375 ft/419 m) in Bodmin Moor. The principal rivers are the Tamar, which forms most of the border with Devon, the Fowey, the Fal, and the Camel.

In the lush river valleys are productive vegetable and dairy farms. The uplands are used for sheep and cattle pastures. The climate is mild and moist, with subtropical vegetation along the southern coast. Various types of fish are caught, including pilchard, that are not plentiful elsewhere in Britain. Engineering, ship repairing, rock quarrying, and tourism are major industries. Cornish tin and copper mines were known to ancient Greek traders, and during World War II the old mines were reworked. Cornwall's climate, coastal towns (Penzance, Falmouth, Land's End, and St. Ives), and the romance of its past, interwoven with Arthurian legend and tales of piracy, have made the region popular with tourists.

Cornwall's history has been somewhat distinct from that of the rest of England. The Cornish language, related to the Welsh and Breton tongues, continues to survive, but all Cornish speakers have been bilingual since the 18th cent. The county was organized in the 14th cent. as a duchy. (The monarch's eldest son is the Duke of Cornwall.) Cornwall was slow to accept the Reformation. In 1549 thousands of Cornishmen marched to defend the Roman Catholic Church service. In the 18th cent. the Wesleyan movement took a firm hold in Cornwall, which has remained a predominantly Methodist area.

Cornwall, industrial city (1991 pop. 47,137), SE Ont., Canada, on the St. Lawrence River. It manufactures cotton and rayon textiles, paper, chemicals, furniture, and electronic equipment. The Canadian headquarters of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority are in Cornwall. The Akwesasne (in the United States, St. Regis) Mohawk reservation lies across the river on the Quebec-New York boundary.

Cornwall (Kernow ) is the most southwesterly county of England, on the peninsula that lies to the west of the River Tamar. The administrative centre and only city is Truro. Cornwall covers an area of 1,376 square miles (3,563 km²), including the Isles of Scilly, located 28 miles (45 km) offshore. Cornwall has a population of 513,528, with a relatively low population density of 373 people per square mile (144 /km²).

Cornwall is noted for its wild moorland landscapes, its extensive and varied coastline and its mild climate. Also notable is Cornwall's Stone Age and industrial archaeology, especially its historic mining landscape, a World Heritage Site. Tourism therefore forms a significant part (24%) of the local economy; however, Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the United Kingdom (62% of the UK average wage) with the lowest per capita contribution to the national economy.

Cornwall is the homeland of the Cornish people and is also considered one of the six "Celtic nations" by many residents and scholars. Some inhabitants question the present constitutional status of Cornwall and a self-government movement seeks greater autonomy for Cornwall.


The name Cornwall comes from a merger of two different terms from separate languages.

The Roman term for the Celtic tribe which inhabited what is now Cornwall at the time of Roman rule, Cornovii, came from a Brythonic tribal name which gave modern Cornish Kernow, also known as Corneu to the Brythons. This could be from two sources; the term may be related to the common Celtic root cern, or the Latin cornu, both of which mean "horn" or "peninsula", suggestive of the shape of Cornwall's landmass. The Cornovii were sufficiently established for their territory to be recorded as Cornubia by AD 700, the name meaning "people of the horn", and remained as such into the Middle Ages.

During the 6th and 7th centuries, the name Cornubia became corrupted by extensive changes in the Old English language. The Anglo-Saxons provided the suffix wealas, meaning "foreigners", creating the term Corn-wealas. Some historians note that this was the word for Wales, however it is understood that the term applied instead to all Brythonic peoples and lands, who were considered foreign by the Anglo-Saxons. As Cornwall was known as West Wales and present-day Wales as North Wales during those times, the "Wales" meaning is probable.


The present human history of Cornwall begins with the reoccupation of Britain after the last ice age. The pre-Roman inhabitants included speakers of a Celtic language that would develop into the Brythonic language Cornish. After a period of Roman rule, Cornwall reverted to independent Celtic chieftains. The first account of Cornwall comes from the Sicilian Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (c.90 BC–c.30 BC), supposedly quoting or paraphrasing the fourth-century BC geographer Pytheas, who had sailed to Britain:

The identity of these merchants is unknown. There has been a theory that they were Phoenicians, however there is no evidence for this. (For further discussion of tin mining see the section on the economy below.)

There is a theory that once silver was extracted from the copper ores of Cornwall in pre-Roman times, as silver is easily converted to its chloride (AgCl) by surface waters containing chlorine.

In the early Middle Ages Cornwall came into conflict with the expanding kingdom of Wessex. The Annales Cambriae report that in 722 AD the Britons of Cornwall won a battle at Hehil. Annales Cambriae However, it is not stated whether the Cornish fought the West Saxons or some other enemy. In 814 King Egbert laid waste to West Wealas from East to West. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles tells us that in 825 (adjusted date) a battle was fought between the "Welsh", presumably those of Cornwall, and the Anglo-Saxons. In 838, the Cornish and their Danish allies were defeated by Egbert at Hengestesdune (Anglo-Saxon Chronicles): an unknown location (various places have been suggested over the years from Hengistbury Head in Dorset, Hingston Down, Devon to Hingston Down in Cornwall).

By the 880s Wessex had gained control of at least part of Cornwall, where Alfred the Great had estates. William of Malmesbury, writing around 1120, says that King Athelstan of England (924–939) fixed the boundary between English and Cornish people at the Tamar, their having until then lived as equals.

The chronology of English expansion into Cornwall is unclear, but it had been absorbed into England by the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–1066), when it apparently formed part of Godwin's and later Harold's earldom of Wessex.

The records of Domesday Book show that by this time the native Cornish landowning class had been almost completely dispossessed and replaced by English landowners, the largest of whom was Harold Godwinson himself. After the Norman conquest most of the land was seized and transferred into the hands of a new Norman aristocracy, with the lion's share going to Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of King William and the largest landholder in England after the king. Subsequently however, Norman absentee landlords became replaced by a new Cornu-Norman elite. These families eventually became the new Cornish aristocracy (typically speaking Norman French, Cornish, Latin and eventually English). Many becoming involved in the operation of the Stannary Parliament system, Earldom and eventually the Duchy. The Cornish language continued to be spoken and it acquired a number of characteristics establishing its identity as a separate language from Breton. Cornwall showed a very different type of settlement pattern to that of Saxon Wessex and places continued, even after 1066, to be named in the Celtic Cornish tradition with Saxon architecture being uncommon. The earliest record for any Anglo Saxon place names west of the Tamar is around 1040.

Geography and climate

Cornwall forms the tip of the south-west peninsula of the island of Great Britain, and is therefore exposed to the full force of the prevailing winds that blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is composed mainly of resistant rocks that give rise in many places to impressive cliffs.

The north and south coasts have different characteristics. The north coast is more exposed and therefore has a wilder nature. The prosaically named High Cliff, between Boscastle and Tintagel, is the highest sheer-drop cliff in Cornwall at 735 feet (224 m). However, there are also many extensive stretches of fine golden sand which form the beaches that are so important to the tourist industry, such as those at Bude, St Agnes, St Ives, Perranporth, Porthtowan, Polzeath, Fistral Beach, Lusty Glaze Beach and Watergate Bay, Newquay. There are two river estuaries on the north coast: Hayle estuary and River Camel, which provides Padstow and Rock with a safe harbour. The south coast, dubbed the "riviera", is more sheltered and there are several broad estuaries offering safe anchorages, such as at Falmouth and Fowey. Beaches on the south coast usually consist of coarser sand and shingle, interspersed with rocky sections of wave-cut platform.

The interior of the county consists of a roughly east-west spine of infertile and exposed upland, with a series of granite intrusions, such as Bodmin Moor, which contains the highest land within Cornwall. From east to west, and with approximately descending altitude, these are Bodmin Moor, the area north of St Austell, the area around Camborne, and the Penwith or Land's End peninsula. These intrusions are the central part of the granite outcrops of south-west Britain, which include Dartmoor to the east in Devon and the Isles of Scilly to the west, the latter now being partially submerged.

The intrusion of the granite into the surrounding sedimentary rocks gave rise to extensive metamorphism and mineralization, and this led to Cornwall being one of the most important mining areas in Europe until the early 20th century. It is thought Tin was mined here as early as the Bronze Age, and copper, lead, zinc and silver have all been mined in Cornwall. Alteration of the granite also gave rise to extensive deposits of China Clay, especially in the area to the north of St Austell, and the extraction of this remains an important industry.

The uplands are surrounded by more fertile, mainly pastoral farmland. Near the south coast, deep wooded valleys provide sheltered conditions for flora that like shade and a moist, mild climate. These areas lie mainly on Devonian sandstone and slate. The north east of Cornwall lies on Carboniferous rocks known as the Culm Measures. In places these have been subjected to severe folding, as can been seen on the north coast near Crackington Haven and in several other locations.

The geology of the Lizard peninsula is unusual, in that it is mainland Britain's only example of an ophiolite, a section of oceanic crust now found on land.. Much of the peninsula consists of the dark green and red Precambrian serpentine rock, which forms spectacular cliffs, notably at Kynance Cove, and carved and polished serpentine ornaments are sold in local gift shops. This ultramafic rock also forms a very infertile soil which covers the flat and marshy heaths of the interior of the peninsula. This is home to rare plants, such as the Cornish Heath, which has been adopted as the county flower.

Cornwall has varied habitats including terrestrial and marine ecosystems. One of the lower plant forms in decline locally is the Reindeer lichen, which species has been made a priority for protection under the national UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Cornwall is the southernmost part of Britain, and therefore has a relatively warm and sunny climate. Winters are mild, and frost and snow are uncommon away from the central upland areas. The average annual temperature for most of Cornwall is 9.8 to 12 degrees Celsius (49.6 to 53.6 °F), with slightly lower temperatures at higher altitude. Cornwall is exposed to mild, moist westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean and has relatively high rainfall, though less than more northern areas of the west coast of Britain, at 1051 to 1290 mm (41.4 to 50.8 in) per year. Most of Cornwall enjoys over 1541 hours of sunshine per year.

Politics and administration

Cornwall is currently administered as a non-metropolitan county of England with six districts, Caradon, Carrick, Kerrier, North Cornwall, Penwith, and Restormel. Cornwall County Council and Cornwall's Courts of Justice are located in Truro. In April 2009, Cornwall will become a unitary authority after a bid was accepted by the UK government, resulting in its six districts being scrapped and council functions being centralised in Truro. The new council will be known as Cornwall Council. While projected to streamline services, cut red tape and save around £17 million a year, it has met with wide opposition, with one poll giving a result of 89% disapproval from Cornish residents.

The Isles of Scilly have in some periods been served by the same county administration as Cornwall, but are today a separate Unitary Authority. They are still grouped with Cornwall for many ceremonial and administrative purposes, such as NHS Trusts and Devon and Cornwall Police.

As of May 2008, and before the change to unitary status, there are 82 county council seats, the majority of which are currently held by Liberal Democrats (2005 county council election). The six districts in Cornwall have a total of 249 council seats, and the numerically largest groups represented on them are Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, and independents.

Cornwall currently elects five MPs to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, all of whom are Liberal Democrats as from the 2005 general election. A reshuffle of parliamentary boundaries will create a sixth parliamentary constituency in Cornwall which will be fought for the first time at the next British general election due in 2009. Until 1832, Cornwall had 44 MPs – more than any other county – reflecting the importance of tin to the English crown. The chief registered parties contesting elections in Cornwall are Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow, and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). In July 2007, Conservative leader David Cameron appointed Mark Prisk to the newly-created post of Shadow Minister for Cornwall.

There is a growing call within Cornwall for greater self-rule. Many residents advocate the creation of a Cornish Assembly, along the lines of those for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and/or a separate Cornish Development Agency, a result of discontent with the South West Regional Development Agency. Some residents suggest a high degree of autonomy within England, or a split from England, creating a fifth home nation of the United Kingdom.

Cornish nationalists have organised into two political parties: Mebyon Kernow, formed in 1951, and the Cornish Nationalist Party. In addition to the political parties, there are various interest groups such as the Cornish Stannary Parliament and the Celtic League. In November 2000, the Cornish Constitutional Convention was formed to campaign for a Cornish Assembly. It is a cross-party organisation including representatives from the private, public, and voluntary sectors, of all political parties and none. Between 5 March 2000 and December 2001, the campaign collected the signatures of 41,650 Cornish residents endorsing the declaration for a devolved regional Cornish Assembly, along with 8,896 signatories from outside Cornwall. The campaign also has the support of all five Cornish Lib Dem MPs and Mebyon Kernow.

Additionally, some groups and individuals question the present constitutional status of Cornwall, doubting the legality of Cornwall's current administration as a county of England, and Cornwall's relationship to the Duchy of Cornwall. Another political issue is the rights of the Cornish people as a minority.

Settlements and communication

Cornwall's only city, and the home of the county council, is Truro. Nearby Falmouth is notable as a port, while the ports at Penzance, the most westerly town in England, St Ives and Padstow have declined. Newquay on the north coast is famous for its beaches and is a popular surfing destination, as is Bude further north. St Austell is Cornwall's largest town, and a centre of the china clay industry. Redruth and Camborne is the largest urban area in Cornwall, and both were significant as the centre of the global tin mining industry.

Cornwall borders the county of Devon at the River Tamar. Major road links between Cornwall and the rest of Great Britain are the A38 which crosses the Tamar at Plymouth via the Tamar Bridge and the town of Saltash, the A39 road (Atlantic Highway) from Barnstaple, passing through North Cornwall to end eventually in Falmouth, and the A30 which crosses the border south of Launceston. A car ferry also links Plymouth with the town of Torpoint on the opposite side of the Hamoaze. A rail bridge, the Royal Albert Bridge, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1859) provides the only other major transport link.

Newquay Airport shares RAF St. Mawgan's runways and facilities and connects Cornwall to the rest of the UK and Ireland.

Cardiff and Swansea, across the Bristol Channel, are connected to Cornwall by ferry, usually to Padstow. Swansea in particular has several boat companies who can arrange boat trips to north Cornwall, which allow the traveller to pass by the north Cornish coastline, including Tintagel Castle and Padstow harbour. Very occasionally, the Waverley and Balmoral paddle steamers cruise from Swansea or Bristol to Padstow.

The Isles of Scilly are served by ferry (from Penzance), helicopter (Penzance Heliport) and fixed wing aeroplane (Land's End Aerodrome, near St Just) and from Newquay Airport. Further flights to St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, are available from Exeter International Airport in Devon.


Saint Piran's Flag is regarded by some people, including Cornish nationalists, as the national flag of Cornwall, and an emblem of the Cornish people; and by others as the county flag. The banner of Saint Piran is a white cross on a black background. Saint Piran is supposed to have adopted these two colours from seeing the white tin in the black coals and ashes during his supposed discovery of tin. Davies Gilbert in 1826 described it as anciently the flag of St Piran and the banner of Cornwall, and another history of 1880 said that: "The white cross of St. Piran was the ancient banner of the Cornish people." The Cornish flag is an exact reverse of the former Breton national flag (black cross) and is known by the same name " Kroaz Du".

Commonly understood to represent the white tin metal against the black tin ore, symbolically, however, the flag is said to represent the light of truth shining through the blackness/darkness of evil.

Another theory of the black and white colours is that the white cross represents the igneous/metamorphic rocks of colour such as granite and schists (mainly found in the southwest of Cornwall), while the black background represents the weathered Devonian slate and Carboniferous sandstone (both of which are mainly black-greyish in appearance) of the northern part of Cornwall.

There are claims that the patron saint of Cornwall is Saint Michael or Saint Petroc, but Saint Piran is by far the most popular of the three and his emblem is internationally recognised as the flag of Cornwall. St Piran's Day (5 March) is celebrated by the Cornish diaspora around the world.


Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the United Kingdom. The GVA per head was 65% of the UK average for 2004. The GDP per head for Cornwall and the Scillies was 79.2 of the EU-27 average for 2004, the UK per head average was 123.0.

Historically tin mining was important in the Cornish economy. The first reference to this appears to be by Pytheas: see above. Julius Caesar was the last classical writer to mention the tin trade, which appears to have declined during the Roman occupation. The tin trade revived in the Middle Ages, and the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 is attributed to tin miners. In the mid-nineteenth century, however, the tin trade again fell into decline.

Cornwall is one of four UK areas that qualifies for poverty-related grants from the EU: it was granted Objective 1 status by the European Commission, followed by a further round of funding known as 'Convergence Funding'.

Today, the Cornish economy depends heavily on its successful tourist industry, which makes up around a quarter of the Cornish economy. The official measures of deprivation and poverty at district and 'sub-ward' level show that there is great variation in poverty and prosperity in Cornwall with some areas among the poorest in England and others are among the top half in prosperity. For example, the ranking of 32,482 sub-wards in England in the index of multiple deprivation ranges from 819th (part of Penzance East) to 30, 899th (part of Saltash Burraton in Caradon), where the lower number represents the most deprivation.

Cornwall's unique culture, spectacular landscape and mild climate make it a popular tourist destination, despite being somewhat distant from the United Kingdom's main tourist centres. Surrounded on three sides by the English Channel and Celtic Sea, Cornwall has miles of beaches and cliffs. Other tourist attractions include moorland, country gardens and wooded valleys. Five million tourists visit Cornwall each year, mostly drawn from within the UK. Visitors to Cornwall are served by airports at Newquay and Plymouth, whilst private jets, charters and helicopters are also served by Perranporth airfield; nightsleeper and daily rail services run between Cornwall, London and other regions of the UK.

Newquay and Porthtowan are popular destinations for surfers. In recent years, the Eden Project near St Austell has been a major financial success, drawing one in eight of Cornwall's visitors.

Other industries are fishing, although this has been significantly re-structured by EU fishing policies, (the Southwest Handline Fisherman's Association has started to revive the fishing industry), and agriculture, which has also declined significantly. Mining of tin and copper was also an industry, but today the derelict mine workings survive only as a World Heritage Site However, the Camborne School of Mines is still a world centre of excellence in its field. and the grant of World Heritage status has attracted funding for conservation and heritage tourism. China clay extraction has also been an important industry in the St Austell area, but this sector has been in decline, and this, coupled with increased mechanisation, has led to a decrease in employment in this sector.

In recent years Cornwall's creative industries have undergone significant growth, thanks in part to Objective One funding, as it is the only British county poor enough to receive such money. There is now a significant creative industry in Cornwall, encompassing areas like graphic design, product design, web design, packaging design, environmental design, architecture, photography, art and crafts.


Cornwall's population is 513,527, and population density 144 people per square kilometre, ranking it 40th and 41st respectively compared with the other 47 counties of England. Cornwall has a relatively high level of population growth, however, at 11.2% in the 1980s and 5.3% in the 1990s, giving it the fifth highest population growth of the English counties. The natural change has been a small population decline, and the population increase is due to immigration into Cornwall. According to the 1991 census, the population was 469,800.

Cornwall has a relatively high retired population, with 22.9% of pensionable age, compared with 20.3% for the United Kingdom. This may be due to a combination of Cornwall's rural and coastal geography increasing its popularity as a retirement location, and the emigration of younger residents to more economically diverse areas. Migration of pensioners from southern England to Cornwall, and emigration of young Cornish people, is a persistent concern.

Cornwall is sometimes described as being one of six Celtic nations alongside Brittany, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales. Just under 7% of the population of Cornwall gave their ethnicity as Cornish in the last census,

Cornwall has a comprehensive education system, with 31 state and 8 independent secondary schools. There are three FE colleges - Penwith College (a former sixth form college), Cornwall College (occupying the former home of the Camborne School of Mines) and Truro College. The Isles of Scilly only has one school. Restormel district has the highest school population, and school year sizes are around 200, with none above 270.

Higher education is provided by University College Falmouth, the Combined Universities in Cornwall (including Camborne School of Mines), and by Truro College, Penwith College and Cornwall College.

Cornish language

The Cornish language is closely related to Welsh and Breton, and less so to Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx. The language continued to function as a community language in parts of Cornwall until the late 18th century, and there has been a revival of the language since Henry Jenner's "Handbook of the Cornish Language" was published in 1904. A study in 2000 suggested that there were around 300 people who spoke Cornish fluently. Cornish however has no legal status in the UK. Nevertheless, the language is taught in about twelve primary schools, and occasionally used in religious and civic ceremonies. In 2002 Cornish was officially recognised as a UK minority language and in 2005 it received limited Government funding. A Standard Written Form was agreed in 2008.

Two of the current Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Andrew George, MP for St Ives, and Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, repeated their Parliamentary oaths in Cornish.


Visual arts

Since the 19th century, Cornwall, with its unspoilt maritime scenery and strong light, has sustained a vibrant visual art scene of international renown. Artistic activity within Cornwall was initially centred on the art-colony of Newlyn, most active at the turn of the century, and associated with the names: Stanhope Forbes, Elizabeth Forbes, Norman Garstin and Lamorna Birch. Modernist writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf lived in Cornwall between the wars, and Ben Nicholson, the painter, having visited in the 1920s came to live in St Ives with his then wife, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, at the outbreak of the second world war. They were later joined by the Russian emigrant Naum Gabo, and other artists. These included Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter and Roger Hilton. St Ives also houses the Leach Pottery, where Bernard Leach, and his followers championed Japanese inspired studio pottery. Much of this modernist work can be seen in Tate St Ives. The Newlyn Society and Penwith Society of Arts continue to be active, and contemporary visual art is documented in a dedicated online journal.

Music and festivals

Cornwall has a rich and vibrant folk music tradition which has survived into the present. Cornwall is well-known for its unusual folk survivals such as Mummers Plays, the Furry Dance in Helston, and Obby Oss in Padstow.

As with other former mining districts of Britain, Male voice choirs and Brass Bands are still very popular in Cornwall.

Cornish players are regular participants in inter-Celtic festivals, and Cornwall itself has several lively inter-Celtic festivals such as Perranporth's Lowender Peran folk festival.

On a more modern note, contemporary musician Richard D. James (also known as Aphex Twin) grew up in Cornwall, as did Luke Vibert (of Wagon Christ and Plug fame) and Alex Parks winner of Fame Academy 2003. Roger Taylor, the drummer from the band Queen was also raised in the county, and currently lives not too far from Falmouth. The American Singer/Songwriter Tori Amos now resides predominantly in North Cornwall not far from Bude with her family.


Cornwall produced a substantial amount of passion plays such as the Ordinalia during the Middle Ages. Many are still extant, and provide valuable information about the Cornish language. Charles Causley, Launceston born poet laureate.

Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall and set many of her novels there, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and The House on the Strand. She is also noted for writing Vanishing Cornwall. Cornwall provided the inspiration for The Birds, one of her terrifying series of short stories, made famous as a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Hammond Innes' novel, The Killer Mine, Charles de Lint's novel The Little Country, Winston Graham's series Poldark, Kate Tremayne's Adam Loveday series, Susan Cooper's novels Over Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch, Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn and Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas The Pirates of Penzance and Ruddigore are all set in Cornwall. Also of the trilogy by Monica Furlong, Juniper, and Colman take place in medieval Cornwall. Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Devil's Foot featuring Sherlock Holmes is set in Cornwall.

Highly respected spy author John Le Carré lives and writes in Cornwall.

The Nobel-prizewinning novelist William Golding was born in St Columb Minor in 1911, and returned to live near Truro from 1985 until his death in 1993. The Scottish poet W. S. Graham lived in West Cornwall from 1944 until his death in 1986. The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman was famously fond of Cornwall and it featured prominently in his poetry. He is buried in the churchyard at St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick.

Prolific writer Colin Wilson, best known for his debut work The Outsider (1956) and for The Mind Parasites (1967), lives in Gorran Haven, a little village on the southern Cornish coast, not far from Mevagissey and St Austell.

Chapters 24 and 25 of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows take place at Shell Cottage, which is on the beach outside the fictional village of Tinworth in Cornwall.

The second act of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde takes place in Cornwall.

A level of Tomb Raider: Legend, a game dealing with Arthurian Legend, takes place in Cornwall at a tacky museum above King Arthur's tomb.


Many place names in Cornwall are associated with Christian missionaries described as coming from Ireland and Wales in the fifth century AD and usually called saints (See List of Cornish saints). The historicity of some of these missionaries is problematic and it has been pointed out by Doble that it was customary in the Middle Ages to ascribe such geographic origins to saints. Some of these saints are not included in the early lists of saints.

St Piran, after whom Perranporth is named, is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall.

In the sixteenth century there was some violent resistance to the replacement of Catholicism with Protestantism in the 1549 uprising. From the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century Methodism was the leading form of Christianity in Cornwall but is now in decline. The Anglican Diocese of Truro was created in 1877.

Sports and games

Among Cornwall's native sports are a distinctive form of Celtic wrestling related to Breton wrestling, and Cornish hurling, a kind of mediaeval football played with a silver ball (distinct from Irish Hurling). Cornish Wrestling is Cornwall's oldest sport and as Cornwall's native tradition it has travelled the world to places like Victoria, Australia and Grass Valley, Virginia following the miners and gold rushes. Hurling now takes place at St. Columb Major and St Ives although hurling of a silver ball is part of the beating the bounds ceremony at Bodmin every five years.

While Rugby is widely held to be the most popular sport in Cornwall, football has in recent years increased in popularity. Truro City F.C. have the largest following; and currently play in the Western League Premier division. This fits in with their Chairman's (Kevin Heaney) ambitions to eventually play in league football, a prospect that is realistically expected to take around 5 years, as they still have several steps to progress up the pyramid structure of leagues. Truro City F.C. became the first ever Cornish football club to win a national competition when in 2007 they won the FA Vase, defeating AFC Totton 3-1 in the final.

Though rugby is thought to have originated from Rugby School in the early 19th century, Richard Carew described in his 1602 work, 'Survey of Cornwall' a game which is rather similar to rugby yet distinct from hurling. Cornish 'hurlers' travelled to London to player 'demonstration matches' of the sport several times in the seventeenth century. Rugby union has the largest following in Cornwall (more so than football), with one team in National Division One, the Cornish Pirates (recently renamed from Penzance & Newlyn RFC). Launceston RUFC, "the Cornish All Blacks", Redruth R.F.C. "the Reds" and Penzance based Mounts Bay play in National Division Two and both Mounts Bay (EDF Intermediate Cup) and the Cornish Pirates (EDF National Trophy) were successful at Twickenham in 2007. Other famous Cornish clubs are Camborne RFC, who previously played in the national leagues, Penryn RFC and St. Ives RFC.

The Cornish rugby team (dubbed Trelawny's Army) used to draw large crowds of supporters to its matches in the county championship, especially if they have progressed to a Twickenham final. London Cornish are an exiles team along the lines of London Irish, London Scottish and London Welsh.

The Cornwall Cougars basketball team are the only National League representatives from the county, based in St Austell, though Devon-based professional club Plymouth Raiders, of the top-tier British Basketball League, pull in many supporters from Cornwall.

From 2001 until 2003, the only fully professional sports team in Cornwall were the Trelawny Tigers speedway team, who raced at the Clay Country Moto Parc in the clay pits near St Austell. The team took over from the St Austell Gulls who were an amateur speedway team which operated from 1997 to 2000. The Gulls also operated at Par Moor in the 1950s. During the Trelawny Tigers years, a local young speedway rider emerged called Chris Harris who has since gone on to become one of the world's best riders. He is very popular in Cornwall and has twice won the local television personality of the year. Chris, nicknamed 'Bomber', came through the ranks of Grasstrack racing, another popular sport in Cornwall. He currently competes in the Speedway Grand Prix, the elite speedway tournament.

One of the earliest references to cricket in Cornwall is 1816 and Sir William Pratt Call of Whiteford House in Stoke Climsland, organised a match against the Plymouth Garrison, and noted:- tea and a meal in a marquee at 6 o'clock. Cornwall County Cricket Club competes in the Minor Counties Championship, the second tier National County structure.

Due to its long coastline, various maritime sports are popular in Cornwall, notably sailing and surfing. International events in both are held in Cornwall. Cornwall hosted the Inter-Celtic Watersports Festival in 2006. Surfing in particular is very popular, as locations such as Bude and Newquay offer some of the best surf in the UK. Pilot gig rowing has been popular for many years and the World championships takes place annually on the Isles of Scilly.

Rock climbing on the sea cliffs and inland cliffs has been popular since the pioneering work of A. W. Andrews and others in the early 1900s, and is now highly developed.

Euchre is a popular card game in Cornwall, it is normally a game for four players consisting of two teams. Its origins are unclear but some claim it is a Cornish game. There are several leagues in Cornwall at present.

A recent application for a place in the 2006 Commonwealth Games was refused by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The Cornwall Commonwealth Games Association claimed that Cornwall should be recognised with a team, in the way that other sub-state entities such as England, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are. However, the CGF noted that it was not their place to make political decisions on whether or not Cornwall is a separate nation.

On September 2, 2007, 300 surfers arrived at Polzeath beach, Cornwall to set a new world record for the highest number of surfers riding the same wave (as part of the Global Surf Challenge and part of a project called Earthwave to raise awareness about global warming).


Cornwall has a strong gastronomic heritage. Surrounded on three sides by the sea amid fertile fishing grounds, Cornwall naturally has fresh seafood readily available; Newlyn is the largest fishing port in the UK by value of fish landed. Television chef Rick Stein has long operated a fish restaurant in Padstow for this reason, and Jamie Oliver recently chose to open his second restaurant, Fifteen, in Watergate Bay near Newquay. Masterchef host and founder of Smiths of Smithfield, John Torode, in 2007 purchased Seiners in Perranporth. One famous local fish dish is Stargazy pie, a fish-based pie in which the heads and tails of the fish stick through the pasty crust, as though "star-gazing". The pie is cooked as part of traditional celebrations for Tom Bawcock's Eve.

Cornwall is perhaps best known though for its pasties, a savoury dish made from pastry containing suet. Today's pasties usually contain a filling of beef steak, onion, potato and swede with salt and white pepper, but historically pasties had a variety of different fillings. For instance, the licky pasty contained mostly leeks, and the herb pasty contained watercress, parsley, and shallots. Pasties are often locally referred to as oggies. Historically, pasties were also often made with sweet fillings such as jam, apple and blackberry, plums or cherries. Recently the origin of the Cornish pasty has been challenged, with neighbouring county Devon claiming to have the oldest known recipe.

The wet climate and relatively poor soil of Cornwall make it unsuitable for growing many arable crops. However, it is ideal for growing the rich grass required for dairying, leading to the production of Cornwall's other famous export, clotted cream. This forms the basis for many local specialities including Cornish fudge and Cornish ice cream. Cornish clotted cream is protected under EU law and cannot be made anywhere else. Its principal manufacturer is Rodda's, based at Scorrier.

Local desserts include Saffron cake, Cornish heavy (hevva) cake, Cornish fairings biscuits, figgy 'obbin, and Whortleberry pie.

There are also many types of beers brewed in Cornwall – Sharp's Brewery and St Austell Brewery are the best-known – including stouts, ales and other beer types. There is some small scale production of wine, mead and cider.

See also


Further reading

  • Halliday, Frank Ernest History of Cornwall, 2nd edition. Main text same as 1959 edition but with afterword by Halliday's son.. Thirsk, North Yorkshire: House of Stratus. ISBN 0-7551-0817-5.
  • Price,J. H., Hepton, C.E.L. and Honey, S.I. 1979. The inshore benthic biota of the Lizard Peninsula, south west Cornwall !. the marine algae: History; Chlorophyta; Phaeophyta. Cornish Studies. 7: 7 - 37.

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