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Help and advice for Helston

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The parish of Helston (Cornish: Hellys), (or more properly Helleston or Helstone), which includes the old municipal borough, is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Kirrier (Kerrier). It is bounded on the north by the parish of Wendron, on the south by Mawgan-in-Meneage and Gunwalloe, and on the west by Sithney. There has been a settlement in this area since the Iron Age, the basis of the name being hen-lys, meaning 'ancient court'. In the Domesday Survey of 1086 it is called the 'manor of Henlistona'.

Helston is an old coinage town, and at one time the focal point of mining and trading in Cornwall. The town stands on the side of a hill, and declines towards the west terminating on th borders of a vale, through which runs the River Cober. In the middle of the main street formerly stood a Coinage Hall, with which was connected a prison, and dwelling house for the Duchy officer. Many of these buildings were emoved but the street still retains the name of Coinagehall Street. In spring every year the Furry Dance takes place. In the past this has been mistakenly called the floral dance. The towns people dressed in formal attire dance in and out of the streets and houses. It is a very sedate affair, which must be very different from the days when Wilkie Collins called it 'A sort of barbarous carnival... where even the "genteel" residents allow themselves to be infected with the general madness'.

The Borough of Helston was originally the chief town in Wendron ecclesiastical parish, but in 1865 a separate parish of Helston was created for the Borough. The Workhouse of the Helston Union used to be in Meneage Street.

Most parish and church description(s) on these pages are from Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall by J Polsue (Truro, 1867 - 1873)

Archives and Libraries

The Helston Folk Museum, was established in 1949. It is housed in the former Market House (built in 1837) in Market Place, Helston. The Museum contains a collection of former crafts and industries which flourished in and around Helston during the 19th and 20th centuries. It has an extensive collection of domestic items and examples of equipment pertaining to cottage industries. It also contains information about notable past residents of the area.


Index to The Book of Helston - Ancient Borough & Market Town by Reg Jenkin With Derek Carter.



Census information for this parish (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Helston area that are recorded in the GENUKI church database. This will also help identify other churches in nearby townships and/or parishes. You also have the option to see the location of the churches marked on a map.

Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW6527 and was dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. It comprises a chancel, a rectangular body, north, south and west galleries, an organ room adjoining the chancel, a vestry and a lobby. The ceiling of the body of the church is painted in the Elizabethan style; from its centre hangs a massive chandelier of twenty-four branches donated by the EArl of Godolphin in 1763. There is a south porch and a priest's door. The church, which has two rows of windows on each side, is built of native elvan, called Clies stone, with granite dressings. The tower is 90 feet in height and built of granite ashlar; it is of three stages and contains six bells and a clock.
    This church replaced an earlier building which had a spire of 90 feet in height. This was struck by lightning in 1727 and continued to be in a ruinous condition in 1753. It was rebuilt by the Earl of Godolphin from the designs of Mr Bland, an architect of Truro. The result was a typical 'town church' of the period which would have looked at home in a smart London suburb. A central altar was installed on a massive re-ordering of the church in 1971.
    On 14th January 1865, the following notice appeared in provincial papers:

    Whereas by an order of Her Majesty in Council, made the 20th day of November 1845, the parish of Wendron was divided into two distinct and separate parishes, named respectively, the parish of St Michael's, Wendron and the parish of Helston.
    And whereas, owing to the resignation of Helston by the Rev. G B Boraston, on the 5th day of January 1865, the said order in council will immediately take effect.
    Be it known that from henceforth it will be necessary for all persons who reside within the limits of the new parish of Helston to have their banns of marriage published in the parish church of Helston, and also to resort thither for the celebration of marriage in case that both of the parties are actually living in the new parish of Helston.
    N.B. The new parish of Helston now formed, will be bounded by the road leading from Coverack Bridge to the lane leading down to Roselydden, thence by Rose in the Bush and Wheal Widden mine to the lane called Rowe's, and along the said lane till it reaches the turnpike road leading from Helston to Falmouth, thence down Crasken Lane by Pollard Bottom to the stream at Mellangoose.
    The parish of Helston will therefore comprise the village or hamlets of Trelubis, Lowertown, Upper Roselydden and Lower Trenethick, Nansloe, Pencoose, Pentire and Degibna.
    Thomas D Millner, curate of St Michael's Wendron
    Thomas P Tyacke, John Grigg, Churchwardens
  • Roman Catholics. In the 1920's a Mass centre was opened at Helston and for several years Mass was offered each Sunday in various hotels and halls in the town. When the Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm came to the district it became important to find a site for a permanent Mass centre, and in 1953, a plot of land of three quarters of an acre was acquired for a church building at RNAS Culdrose, in the development area; the chapel at Culdrose is dedicated to The Holy Redeemer. The first Mass was celebrated at its opening on Easter Sunday 1955.
  • Non-Conformists. In Coinagehall Street is the Wesleyan Methodist chapel which is still in use at the beginning of the 21st century. The Bible Christians also once had a chapel in Meneage Street. There were also chapels for the Wesleyan Association Methodists, Bible Christians and Baptists. The Bible Christian Chapel at Lowertown,in the Cober Valley, about a mile and a half from Helston, was formally opened in 1839.

Church Records

Civil Registration

The parish of Helston was originally in the Helston Registration District; there were sub-districts at Breage, Crowan, Helston, St Keverne and Wendron. It is now in the Kerrier Registration District. Parishes in this registration district are: Breage, Crowan, Cury, Germoe, Gunwalloe, Grade, Helston, Landewednack, Manaccan, Mawgan in Meneage, Mullion, Ruan Major, Ruan Minor, St. Anthony in Meneage, St. Keverne, St. Martin in Meneage, Sithney, Wendron.

The address of the Registration Office is: The Willows, Church Street, Helston, TR13 8NJ.
Tel: 01326 562848.

Description and Travel

  • The The ancient borough of Helston; a short history and survey is available on-line, courtesy of the Old Cornwall Society. It was published by Spencer H. Toy in 1912.
  • ePodunk's Cornwall page - providing general, plus some historical and genealogical information, about Cornwall and its parishes, together with links (mainly relating to general sites and services, rather than ones that are specific to Cornwall or particular parishes).
  • Photographs of Helston are available on-line.
You can see pictures of Helston which are provided by:


In spring every year the Furry Dance takes place in Helston; this is usually held on May 8th. In the past this has been mistakenly called the floral dance, but this is now the name by which this celebration is most widely known. The town's people, dressed in formal attire, dance in and out of the streets and houses as a sign of welcoming the Spring. The townsfolk decorate their homes and shops with flowers and branches, making a colourful spectacle. There are four dances in all: the most famous being the childrens dance at 10 a.m., where local schoolchildren dance along the streets, and the midday dance, where the town's gentry dance through the shops and streets, looking resplendent in their top hats and tails and fancy frocks. Also celebrated is the Hal-an-Tow which commemorates the slaying of the dragon by St George and where a mock battle is fought outside the town hall.
Some information about the Floral Dance in Helston is available.


  • OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.
  • The OPC has produced a genealogical website for Helston to assist those researching their Helston ancestry.
  • Persons living in Helston but born elsewhere are known as "Strays". Strays found in Helston in the 1861 Census are available on-line at:

Historical Geography

The Domesday Settlements of Cornwall, a study undertaken by the Cornwall Branch of the Historical Association, has identified and located settlements listed in the Exeter and Exchequer Domesday Survey of AD 1086. The following places have been identified in Helston ecclesiastical parish:

You can see the administrative areas in which Helston has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Graham G Matthews has produced a website describing and detailing aspects of the History of Helston.


You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW661278 (Lat/Lon: 50.104053, -5.272421), Helston which are provided by:


Apprenticeship Indentures for Helston (1747 - 1764 and 1770 - 1785) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.

Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

  • Helston parish was part of the Helston Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • The Workhouse was located in Meneage Street, Helston. It was a large building of stone with granite dressings, and was erected in 1858 from designs by the Architect Fred William Porter. It later became The Meneage Hospital, which continued until the 1990s.
    The Union comprised the parishes of Breage, Crowan, Cury, Germoe, Grade, Gunwalloe, Helston, Landwednack, Manaccan, Mawgan, Mullion, Ruan-Major, Ruan-Minor, St Anthony, St Keverne, St Martin, Sithney and Wendron.
    The surviving buildings have now been converted into residential accommodation.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1748 to 1764), Settlement Papers (1741 to 1826) and Bastardy Bonds (1729 to 1823), are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • Population in 1801 - 2248 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 2297 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 2671 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 3293 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 3503 persons in the parish,
    and 81 persons in the Union Workhouse
  • Population in 1851 - 3555 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 3843 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 3797 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 3432 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 3198 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 3088 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2937 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2616 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 4888 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 5545 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 4830 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 5378 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 7870 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 8565 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 9780 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 10909 persons


The parish comprises 2918 acres of land, 5 acres of water and 17 acres of foreshore.

Town Records