The pleasant little village of Gulval (Cornish: Lannystli) is near Penzance overlooking Mounts Bay. The parish was originally called Lanisley, taken from the old Cornish Lan meaning church and ishei lower meaning the low (or lower church) which agrees with the situation. The present name, which has been used for many centuries, is probably derived from St Gulval, about whom nothing is known but was believed to be a female. There is a legend of a St Gulval's Well where one could seek news of absent friends by gazing into the water.

The parish of Gulval, otherwise known as Lanesly, is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith; it is bounded on the north by Zennor, a detached portion of Madron which it nearly surrounds, and Towednack, on the east by Ludgvan, on the south by Mount's Bay and on the west by Madron. it is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086. The surrounding area abounds in archaeological remains which show evidence of habitation since earliest times. The Bolitho family were influential in this parish and Mr RF Bolitho was responsible at the turn of the 20th century for building many of the granite houses, the almshouses and Lanisley Hall. Since the last war there have been many new housing developments and Europe's first heliport (Penzance) is located nearby.

Gulval was incorporated into the parishes of Penzance, Madron and Ludgvan in 1934, and is now virtually a suburb of Penzance.



The Cornwall Family History Society have not yet published any Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church.



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


Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW4831 and was dedicated to St Wolvela (or St Gudwal), a British saint who flourised here in the 6th century.
    There was an early christian church here which was rebuilt in the early 14th century. On July 10th 1336 the present church was consecrated.
    The church is divided into a chancel, nave, south aisle and north transept. The transept is separated from the nave by two arches similar to that of the arcade. The church has a south porch and a priest's door. The tower is of three stages and is finished with battlements and pinnacles.
    A further description and history of Gulval Church, extracted from Blight's Churches of West Cornwall - 1864, is also available.
    Gulval is now part of the United Benefice of Gulval-Madron.
  • Non-Conformist. There were three chapels for the Wesleyans situated at Cross, Gear and Trezelah, and two for the Bible Christians at Carfury and New Mill.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
    • The LDS Church batch numbers for Gulval are: E002771, M002771/3, P002771/2. These are searchable by surname.
    • The IGI coverage of this parish is 1598 - 1895.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1599 - 1886, Burials 1599 - 1925, Marriages 1598 - 1882, Boyd's Marriage Index 1598 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1800 - 1812.
  • General.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1599 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD baptisms 1713 to 1840 for this parish and these are available for purchase on Parish Chest.
  • Marriages.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1598 to 1837, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • Phillimore's marriages 1686 to 1741 and parish transcripts of marriages 1598 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Details of Gulval Marriages 1883-1902 are on-line.
  • Burials.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book or CD formats.
    • Burials 1601 to 1913 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).

Civil Registration

The parish of Gulval has been in the Penzance Registration District continuously from 1st July 1837. There were originally sub-districts at Marazion, Penzance, St Buryan, St Just, St Ives and Uny-Lelant but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Gulval, Ludgvan, Madron, Marazion, Morvah, Penzance, Perranuthnoe, St. Buryan, St. Erth, St. Hilary, St. Ives, St. Just in Penwith, St. Levan, St. Michael's Mount, St. Paul, Sancreed, Sennen, Towednack, Uny-Lelant, Wolfe Rock Lighthouse, and Zennor. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Alphington House, Alverton Place, Penzance, TR18 4JJ. Tel: 01736 330093.


Description & Travel

  • An extract of TONKIN's NATURAL HISTORY OF CORNWALL (circa 1700) describes Gulval at that time. Hals' History of Cornwall - 1750 also gives much further historical information.
  • Details from Lake's Parochial History - 1868 (part 1) concerning Gulval is also on-line.
  • The following is from [Lewis Topographical Dictionary of England 1831] and must be read in the context of that date.

    "GULVAL, a parish in the hundred of PENWITH county of CORNWALL, 1½ mile (N.E.) from Penzance, containing 1353 inhabitants. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconary of Cornwall, and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £6. 11. 0½., and in the patronage of the Crown. The church is dedicated to St. Gulwal. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. A stream, called Dane river, from its passing under a bridge of that name, runs through the parish, in its course to Mount's Bay. Several tin mines have been worked in the northern part of the parish, but being in an exhausted state, they are now almost relinquished. At Rosemorren are the remains of a cromlech, near which several sculptured stones, earthern urns containing ashes, burnt bones, and ancient belt, etc., have been found. There is a spring called Gulfwell, or the Hebrew brook, which is held in great veneration by the superstitious."
You can see pictures of Gulval which are provided by:





The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"GULVAL, a parish in the hundred of Penwith, county Cornwall, 1 mile N.E. of Penzance, its post town. It is situated on the N. shore of Mount's Bay, and was part of the demesne belonging to St. Germain's Priory, being given to that establishment by the Halso family. Its old name appears to have been Lanistley. Granite and schistose are obtained here, and mining operations are carried on. Some of the mines are very old; that called Ding-Doug is said to be the oldest in the county. Tin is the main yield. The soil is fertile, but sandy, producing abundance of early vegetables. Some of the people are employed in the tanneries. Several mills are put in motion by a rivulet which rises in the N. part of the parish. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter, value £449, in the patronage of the lord chancellor. The church is a stone edifice, dedicated to St. Gulval. It appears to have been built about the 15th century, and contains some old monuments, a register chest, and stone font. The register commences in 1600. The charities produce about £15 per annum. The Wesleyans and Bible Christians have chapels, and there is a National school for both sexes. Here is an ancient cromlech, and a chalybeate spring, called the Hebrew Brook, once held in great veneration. The principal seats are Chyandour, Rosemorron, and Trevayler."



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 West Penwith Resources have produced a genealogical website for the parish.

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 Gulval ecclesiastical parish:



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW466333 (Lat/Lon: 50.145728, -5.548846), Gulval which are provided by:



Apprenticeship Indentures for Gulval (1773 - 1832) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Gulval parish was part of the Penzance Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1784 to 1825), Settlement papers (1737 to 1818) and Bastardy Bonds (1616 - 1807), are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


Gulval was incorporated into parishes of Penzance, Madron and Ludgvan in 1934. Population figures from 1951 are usually included with Penzance.

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)

  • Population in 1801 - 1076 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 1224 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 1353 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 1467 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 1941 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 1859 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 1743 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 1668 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 1623 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 1476 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 1476 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 1332 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 1292 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 1223 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 770 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 1055 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 0000 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 0000 Persons

Probate Records



The Penwith Local History Group aims:

  • To encourage and sustain public interest in the history of Penwith to provide mutual support and encouragement to members in their individual research projects, whether related to Penwith or of wider historical interest.
  • To work as a group on specific research projects, with the aim of publication to an academic standard.
  • To encourage the strong link with the Morrab Library, supporting the Library in its aims and activities.


The parish comprises 4355 acres of land.


Voting Registers

The Gulval Register of Electors in 1914 is available on-line.