About Penzance

The town and parish of Penzance has a population of just over 21,000; Penzance is one of the busiest towns in Cornwall.

The town supports a large number of small businesses that are involved in service industries, light engineering, manufacturing, retail, catering and specialist trades and crafts.

The town’s streets are packed with shops, traditional pubs and lively cafés and restaurants that offer international cuisine as well as mouth-watering Cornish specialities.

There is a good choice of accommodation, from homely guesthouses to top-of-the-range hotels.

Penzance is a town that is constantly evolving without losing its historic appeal and rich Cornish identity, so vividly expressed in everyday life and in such events as Golowan and Montol.

Penzance covers all bases as a friendly holiday resort and a busy shopping centre while its thriving cultural life reflects West Cornwall’s distinguished reputation in the international art world.

Mount’s Bay is an inspirational setting. It is the largest bay in Britain and its magnificent shoreline runs in a great arc from Land’s End in the west, to Lizard Point in the south.

At the inner corner of the bay, east of Penzance, is the ancient town of Marazion and the offshore St Michael’s Mount, a castle-crowned island that has been of strategic importance since the Bronze Age.

Between Penzance and Marazion lies a long sweep of safe and accessible sandy beach lapped by a warm, crystal-clear sea. Offshore are some of the best sailing and windsurfing waters in Europe.

Penzance is sea-centred in every way. Its large outer harbour is filled with moored yachts and pleasure craft. The busy inner harbour is enclosed by granite piers against which old fishing boats, yachts and working vessels add life and variety.

There are frequent visits by traditional sailing ships whose towering masts recreate the atmosphere of the town’s great maritime past.

The ferry, MV Scillonian III, an essential link with the Isles of Scilly, berths at the end of the outer pier.

The beach at Penzance Promenade. Picture by Luke Brown.
Penzance Promenade to Newlyn. Picture by Luke Brown.

Next to the inner harbour is the Jubilee Bathing Pool,beyond which Penzance’s famous promenade and a continuation beachside path, lead for nearly a mile (1.6km) alongside the sea to the busy fishing port of Newlyn.

The Wharfside Centre, a busy mix of shops and cafés, lies at the eastern end of Market Jew Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. The Wharfside overlooks the harbour car park and forms a convenient link between the harbour area and Market Jew Street and its distinctive granite terrace.

The name Market Jew derives from the Cornish language term, Marghas Vow, the ‘Thursday Market’. The street rises gently uphill to the handsome neo-classical building of the Market House, built in 1837, in front of which stands a statue of Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), the Penzance-born scientist and scholar who is probably best known for inventing the miner’s safety lamp.

Behind Market House are Market Place and The Greenmarket, from where the busy shopping streets of Causewayhead and Alverton Street lead off.

From Market Place, the narrow Chapel Street – the best preserved Georgian Street in the UK – winds down to the harbour. To the south and west of Chapel Street lie narrow lanes and quiet squares lined with handsome examples of Regency and late Georgian houses.

Further west again lie the peaceful Morrab Gardens, full of sub-tropical shrubs, trees and flowers. Just across Morrab Road from the Gardens lies the more spacious Penlee Park.

The Penlee House Gallery and Museum.in Penlee Park contains a fine collection of works of art and has archaeological and local history sections.

The pleasant residential village of Heamoor lies to the north of Penzance beyond a by-pass that was built to ease traffic congestion within the town.

Beyond Heamoor, the land rises through lush green fields, framed by stands of woodland, to the village of Madron, and then on towards the moorland hills of Celtic West Cornwall, where ancient monuments of the Bronze Age and Iron Age and the granite ruins of 19th century mine buildings add drama to the landscape.

chapel street penzance