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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets

Cornwall lies in south-western England on a peninsula bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

Towns include the county seat of Truro.

The Isles of Scilly lie to the west of Land's End, the mainland's most south-westerly point and Bodmin Moor can be found in the east of the county.

The Celtic language of Cornish was once spoken in the county. Most closely related to Welsh and Breton (spoken in Brittany in France) the language has been extinct since 1777 when the last speaker died. In recent decades the Cornish language has enjoyed a revival and there is thought to be several hundred speakers today.

The Cornish

Anglo-Saxons and Danes

Together with its easterly neighbour Devon, Cornwall formed part of the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia. Having withstood the Romans, Cornwall also remained under the Celts control during Anglo-Saxon times, although Devon eventually became part of Wessex.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Twelve separate areas make up the Cornwall AONB which was designated in 1959. The protected areas include landscapes as diverse as the Lizard Peninsula, Land's End, Bodmin Moor, the Camel Estuary and much of the county's north and south coastline.

Lying 45km off Land's End, the Isles of Scilly were designated England's smallest AONB in 1975. With only five islands inhabited and a population of less than 2,000 people, the beaches, cliffs and dunes provide sanctuary for many bird populations as well as a stopover for migrating birds. The unusually warm water lying between the islands also provides a rare ecosystem for a wide variety of marine animals.

The Tamar Valley AONB includes three river systems: the Tamar and Tavy rivers to the north of Plymouth and the Lynher to the west of the city. All three rivers enter the sea in one of England's last unspoilt estuaries. The east of the AONB lies in the neighbouring county of Devon and was designated in 1995.

Historic Events

Notable Achievements
In 1901 the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi succeeded in sending the first transatlantic radio signal in the form of Morse code from Poldhu in the county across the ocean to St John's in Newfoundland in Canada. In 1909 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Inventors and Scientists

In 1771 the engineer Richard Trevithick was born in Illogan near Redruth. In 1801 he built the first successful steam carriage which was used in the county and later in London. In 1804 he completed the first steam locomotive which ran at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks in Wales the same year, the first time passengers had been transported by steam.

Humphry Davy was born in Penzance in 1778. A chemist as profession, he made early discoveries in the fields of both electricity and anaesthetics which would later be taken beyond their experimental stages by other scientists. He also received much recognition for inventing the "Davy lamp", a safety lamp to be used by coalminers. He died in Geneva in Switzerland in 1829.

Humphry Davy

Nobel Prize Winners

The biochemist Peter Mitchell died in Bodmin in 1992. In 1978 he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for developing a new theory of energy generation.

The winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 and author of Lord of the Flies William Golding was born at St Columb Minor in 1911. He died in 1993 in the county at Perranarworthal.

William Golding
William Golding website

The radio astronomer Antony Hewish was born in Fowey in 1924. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with Martin Ryle for their research in radio astrophysics.

Places of Interest


In legend it was Tintagel Castle where King Arthur was born and held court.

King Arthur

Historic Buildings
St Michael's Mount was built as a monastery in 1047 and lies off the Cornish coast near Penzance.

Prime Ministers
Prime Ministers

Harold Wilson, twice Prime Minister in 1964-70 and 1974-76, was buried in 1995 at St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly.

Harold Wilson

All these financiers, all these little gnomes in Zurich and the other financial centres about whom we keep hearing.
(Speech at the House of Commons, 1956)

World Heritage Sites

The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2006. The landscape contains the industrial remnants of an extensive network of mines in the county and neighbouring West Devon which once provided 50% of the world's supply of copper and tin. The industry transformed the area's landscape in the 18th and 19th centuries, made a significant contribution to the industrial revolution and exported its mining methods and expertise across the world.

Writers and Poets
For William Golding see Nobel Prize Winners

The poet John Betjeman died at his home at Trebetherick in 1984 and was buried at the church at the village of Rock. He had been Poet Laureate since 1972 and was succeeded by Ted Hughes.

John Betjeman
Poetry Archive
John Betjeman Society
Poets laureate

Daphne du Maurier died at Par in the county in 1989.

Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier website

The former intelligence office and novelist, John Le Carré died at Truro in 2020. He had a house in the county for four decades at St Buryan near Land's End.

John le Carré

County Links Genealogy in England

Genealogy Links

Devon & Cornwall Record Society
Royal Cornwall

Online Parish Clerk