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Helston in 1841

HELSTON, a market town and parliamentary and municipal borough, in the hundred of Kerrier or Kirrier, in the county of Cornwall, 296 miles west-south-west of the General Post Office, London: viz., 197 to Exeter by railway, and from thence 99 miles by coach road through Oakhampton, Launceston, Bodmin, and Truro. Helston was made a borough by King John (A. D. 1201). According to Lysons, the townsmen paid him forty marks of silver and a palfrey that their town might be made a free borough. King Edward I made it one of the coinage towns ; and it sent members to Parliament from his reign. There was a castle here in which Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, cousin of Edward I, resided at one time, but it was afterwards so neglected that it was in ruins in the time of Edward IV ; and the town itself was in the reign of Henry VIII one of the decayed towns for the repair of which an act of parliament was passed.

The town stands on the left or eastern bank of a small stream, the Lo or Low or Loo which forms about a mile below the town a wide expanse of water called Lo-pool. The river Hel or Heyl, distinguished from another stream of the same name in the county, as the Heyl in Kirrier, and sometimes called the Helford, flows about two miles east of the town, or rather less. The streets are irregularly laid out ; but are paved and lighted with gas, and the town presents a neat an clean appearance. The market-house and town-hall are near the centre of the town, and the ancient coinage-hall stands at the end of a street to which it gives name. There are no remains of the castle. The Church dedicated to St. Michael is a modern building of 'white moorstone' (granite), erected by the Earl of Godolphin in 1763. There are a Baptist meeting-house and a Wesleyan chapel. The population of the old borough and chapelry which has an area of 130 acres was in 1841, 3,584 ; the number of houses was 763, viz., 682 inhabited, 66 uninhabited, and 15 building. The number of houses in 1831 was only 616, viz. 581 inhabited, 23 uninhabited, and 12 building ; the population was 3,293, so that the increase of population in the ten years 1831-41 was 291 ; and the increase in the number of inhabited houses, 101.

The town is the centre of an important agricultural and mining district : it has two markets, on Wednesday and Saturday ; and there are several fairs or great markets in the year. A great number of shoes are made in the town, and are sold at the markets and fairs ; or are sent to Redruth. The borough, which previous to the Reform Act returned two members to parliament, now returns only one ; the old borough was, for parliamentary purposes, enlarged by the addition of the adjoining parish of Sithney and of a considerable part of the parish of Wendron. The population of Sithney parish in 1841 was 3,362, of Wendron 5,576, which, united with the population of the old borough, makes a total of 12,522 ; but what deduction is to be made for that part of Wendron parish which is not in the parliamentary borough, we have no means of ascertaining. The number of electors on the register in 1835-6 was 356, in 1839-40 it was 406, showing an increase in four years of 50 voters. The town is a polling station for the western division of the county of Cornwall. By the Municipal Corporations Reform Act, the borough has 4 aldermen and 12 councillors, but was not to have a commission of the peace except on petition and grant. The old municipal boundaries have not been altered. The living is a perpetual curacy united with the vicarage of Wendron, of which parish the chapelry of Helston is a dependency ; the clear yearly value of the united benefice is £876, with a glebe-house : it is in the rural deanery of Kerrier, in the archdeaconry of Cornwall and the diocese of Exeter. There were in the chapelry of Helston in 1833 two national schools with 100 boys and 70 girls partly supported by subscription ; and five other day or boarding schools with 123 boys, 66 girls and 40 children of sex not stated, giving a total number of 399 children, or about one in eight of the population (according to the then recent census of 1831) under daily instruction. There were at the same time two Sunday-schools, with 260 children, viz., 127 boys and 133 girls connected with the two dissenting congregations.