Cornwall in London Project

We aim to create a list here of various places and things in London which are of Cornish interest.

CORNISH IN LONDON

Work on the Cornish in London project is ongoing – and we are always looking for contributions. We asked our members if they knew of any place, memorial, statue, building or any other permanent object in London that has a Cornish connection and have received some very interesting information – but we are hoping for even more.

If you are aware of any Cornish links in the London area, please let us know. They could be anything from Cornish people who lived here to buildings made of Cornish granite. If it has a Cornish connection, however tenuous, we would like to hear from you and we would also welcome photographs.

Please send your contributions to the Cornwall in London Coordinator. We have Headings – People, Memorials and Landmarks, Places and Objects.

PEOPLE

RICHARD TREVITHICK

Richard Trevithick was a Cornish mining engineer and inventor who was born in Illogan, Cornwall in 1771 and died as a pauper in the Bull Inn, Dartford in 1833.

He developed the first high-pressure steam engine. In 1801, while in Camborne, he used this technology to build a full-size road steam locomotive. He named this vehicle Puffing Devil and demonstrated how it worked by taking passengers up Camborne Hill.

A drawback of Puffing Devil was its inability to maintain sufficient steam pressure for long periods. In 1803 Trevithick built another a steam-powered road vehicle which was known as the London Steam Carriage. This aroused much public interest when it was driven along the road from Holborn to Paddington and back again. Unfortunately, it was uncomfortable for passengers, and more expensive to run than a traditional horse drawn carriage – and so was abandoned.

In 1808 the worlds first passenger carrying railway was established near Euston Square. It went round in a circle and a ticket cost one shilling.

MEMORIALS AND LANDMARKS

Richard Trevithick Plaque

Location: On the wall of the University College building, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT (Near Torrington Place)

Plaque erected by the Trevithick Centenary Memorial Committee. The inscription reads:

Close to this place Richard Trevithick, born 1771 – died 1833, pioneer of high pressure steam, ran in the year 1808 the first steam locomotive to draw passengers.

Richard Trevithick’s Coachmaker Plaque

Location: 36 Leather Lane, Holborn EC1N 7SU

William Felton was a London coachmaker. In 1803, Felton’s workshop built a body for Trevithick’s London Steam Carriage. It was designed to seat 8 passengers. A plaque marks the spot where Felton had his workshop. Its inscription reads:

William FELTON’s carriage works was close to this spot. In 1803 he built a carriage powered by a steam engine designed and supplied by Richard TREVITHICK, the great Cornish engineer. The carriage made several trips from here with up to about 8 passengers. In July of that year, one trip was made via Greys Inn Lane, Dorset Square and Tottenham Court Road to Paddington, returning the same day via Islington. This was the first self-powered vehicle to run in the streets of London and the world’s first self-powered road people carrier. The London Steam Carriage heralded the age of the car. This plaque was unveiled by Francis Trevithick Okuno, descendant of Richard Trevithick, on July 6th 2003

Richard Trevithick Blue Plaque

Location: Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel (formerly The Bull), 1 High Street, Dartford

This marks the spot where Trevithick stayed in the last years of his life, and where he died. The inscription reads:

Richard Trevithick
1771-1833
Pioneering engineer and inventor of the world’s first steam powered railway locomotive, lodged at this hotel from 1831-1833.
He died here on 22 April 1833 after a short illness and is buried in the town

Burial Site and Plaque for Richard Trevithick
Location: Upper Burial Ground, East Hill, Dartford

Trevithick was buried in an unmarked grave in St Edmunds Burial Ground in Dartford. The graves in the cemetery were removed in the mid-1950s. There is plaque on the side, near the East Hill gate where Trevithick’s grave was thought to have been. The inscription reads:

Richard Trevithick
Approximately 25 feet from this wall lie the remains of Richard Trevithick the great engineer and pioneer of high pressure steam. He died at the Bull Inn in Dartford and was carried here by his fellow workers of Halls Engineering Works to a paupers grave.
Born Illogan Cornwall April 13th 1771
Died Dartford Kent April 22 1833

Richard Trevithick – Westminster Abbey Stained Glass Window

Location: Westminster Abbey – north west tower chapel in the nave.

The window, which commemorates Richard Trevithick, was unveiled in 1888. It was presented to the Abbey by the Institute of Civil Engineers.

The window depicts St Michael at the top, with an angel on either side of him, playing musical instruments. Nine Cornish saints are below this, with St Piran carrying a Cornish banner. The head of St Piran is thought to be a portrait of Trevithick.

At the base of the window are four angels carrying scrolls on which are outline drawings of some of Trevithick’s greatest inventions – tramroad locomotive, Cornish pumping engine, steam dredger and railway locomotive.

WILLIAM BLIGH
There is some uncertainty as to where William Bligh was born. He is reputed to be a Cornishman, born at Tinten Manor in St Tudy in 1754, but some sources claim he may have been born in Plymouth where his father was a customs officer.

Bligh sailed with Captain James Cook on his voyages of exploration to the Pacific. In the 1780s he was appointed master of HMS Bounty and set off to take breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies for cultivation. It was on this voyage that the famous ‘mutiny on the Bounty’ took place. He and his small crew navigated 4000 miles to Portuguese Timor and eventually returned to England.

He was appointed Governor of New South Wales in 1805 but was not a success and he was replaced by Lachlan Macquarie in 1808.

After he returned to England, Bligh was appointed Rear Admiral of the Blue and in 1814, he became a Vice Admiral of the Blue.

He died in London in 1817 and is buried in Lambeth cemetery.

MEMORIALS AND LANDMARKS

William Bligh Tomb

Location: In the garden of St Mary-at-Lambeth Church (now the Garden Museum).
5 Lambeth Palace Rd, Bishop’s, London SE1 7LB

The coade stone tomb stands at the east end of the churchyard. Here, Bligh is buried with his wife Elizabeth and his twin sons.

The inscription on the tomb reads:

Sacred to the memory of William Bligh, Esquire, FRS. Vice Admiral of the Blue; The celebrated navigator who first transplanted the bread fruit tree from Otaheite to the West Indies, Bravely fought the battles of his country, and died beloved, respected, and lamented on the 7th day of December 1817

William Bligh Blue Plaque

Location: 100 Lambeth Road, Lambeth SE1 7PT (near Imperial War Museum)

Bligh lived for some time at 100 Lambeth Road, one block east of the Garden Museum. A blue plaque marks the site.

LEONARD HENRY COURTNEY – 1st BARON COURTNEY OF PENWITH
Leonard Courtney was born in Penzance, Cornwall on 6th July 1832 and was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. He trained as a lawyer and was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1858. He was professor of political economy at University College, London from 1872 to 1875.

Courtney is renowned for being a radical Liberal Party politician who was an advocate of proportional representation and who strongly opposed imperialism and militarism. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1876 and, in 1882, was appointed financial secretary to the treasury by Prime Minister W E Gladstone. In 1886, he was elected chairman of committees in the House of Commons and was made a Privy Counsellor in 1889.

He was created a peer – 1st Baron Courtney of Penwith in 1906. As he had no children, the barony lapsed when he died at his home – 15 Cheyne Walk – on May 11th, 1918.

MEMORIALS AND LANDMARKS

Leonard Henry Courtney Memorial

Location: South wall of the garden of the Chelsea Old Church (Cheyne Walk, Chelsea)

The memorial is made of Portland stone and has three panels. One of the side panels shows a headland near Land’s End while the other shows his likeness. In the middle is the following inscription:

In memory of
Leonard Henry
Lord Courtney of Penwith
Born Penzance July 6th 1832
Died 15, Cheyne Walk, May 11th 1918

Cornwall reared him
Cambridge trained him
World wide in human interests
London found him his life’s work
Chelsea gave him a much-loved home.

One who never turned his back
but marched breast forward.
Never doubted clouds would break
Never dreamed though right were worsted, wrong would triumph
Held we fall to rise
are baffled to fight better
Sleep to wake

PLACES

PRAED STREET, PADDINGTON

Location: Praed Street – behind Paddington Station
Praeds & Co Bank -Originally at 189 Fleet Street
St Mary’s Church – Wyndham Place, York Street, London W1H 1PQ

Praed Street, which lies behind London Paddington Station, was named after Cornishman William Praed who was the oldest son of Humphrey Mackworth Praed of Trevethoe Manor near St Ives. William’s father was an MP for St Ives and then for Cornwall.

After he completed his education at Eton and Oxford, William became a partner in the family’s business – The Cornish Bank – which was established in Cornwall in 1771.

In 1902, Praeds &Co was founded in London. Its first premises were at 189 Fleet Street, a building designed by Sir John Soane. The principal partners of Praeds & Co were William Praed and John Eliot, 1st Earl of St Germains.

Praeds & Co acted as the London agents for The Cornish Bank as well as a number of other banks in the south and south-west of England.

In the latter half of the 19th century, as a result of changes to the banking sector many banks were under threat. Praeds found it increasingly difficult to compete and in 1891, was sold to Lloyds. Charles Praed, the principal partner at the time, sat on the board of Lloyds until his death in 1895.

The area around Praed Street became known as ‘Little Kernow’ and St Mary’s Church in Marylebone, a short distance away, was a popular venue for Cornish society weddings. One of those to be married there was Lillian Knowles (nee Tomn) of Truro, the world’s first female professor of economics

ST MARY-AT-LAMBETH – FONT

Location: St Mary-at-Lambeth Church (now the Garden Museum). 5 Lambeth Palace Rd, Bishop’s, London SE1 7LB

This font for total immersion, is one of only two in Anglican churches in Britain and is situated under the church’s tower. It was installed in 1900 by John Andrewes Reeve (Rector of St Mary’s 1894-1903) in memory of Archbishop Benson who died in 1896.

Archbishop Benson was the first Bishop of Truro, serving from 1877 to 1883. It was he who began the construction of Truro Cathedral

OBJECTS

RILLATON CUP

Location: British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

The gold Rillaton cup dates back to the Early Bronze Age (1800-1600BC). It was discovered by accident in 1837 by workmen removing stone from a large burial cairn on Bodmin Moor.

ANGLO SAXON CHALICE

Location: British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

This chalice is part of the Trewhiddle Hoard. The hoard was found in 1774 by miners near St Austell who were streaming for tin. The chalice, made from silver and gold, dates back to the Late Anglo-Saxon period (9th C).

CORNISH CLAY PRODUCTS

Location: British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

The British Museum has several porcelain items which are made from Cornish clay.

ELEPHANT AND CASTLE UNDERPASS

Cornwall in London - Tony Wakeham

Tony Wakeham in front of his portrait

Mr Tony Wakeham, who passed away in February 2019, was a Council member and Cornwall in London Coordinator.

He was a model for a mural in the underpass at Elephant and Castle. The artist had been looking for ‘locals’ who reflected the community – and Tony fitted the bill.

This photograph shows the model and the final painting.

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