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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.

Archives & 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.

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Bibliography

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

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Cemeteries

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Census

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. The Cornwall Family History Society have also published on-line census detail by surname on the FamilyHistoryonLine site.

Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:

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Church History

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Church Records

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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.

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Description & Travel

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Folklore

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.

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Genealogy

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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:

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History

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

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Maps

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Occupations

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

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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Population

  • 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

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Statistics

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

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Town Records

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