Truro: A capital ideal

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:35 09 May 2014

Truro Cathedral was finished in 1910 after 30 years in the building and has dominated Truro's skyline for more than a century

Truro Cathedral was finished in 1910 after 30 years in the building and has dominated Truro's skyline for more than a century


Truro wasn’t Cornwall’s first choice for a capital, in fact it wasn’t even the second. But when Lostwithiel and Launceston gave up the reigns, it became the cultural home of Cornwall. Buzzing with independent shops and boutiques, a mecca for great food and drink and a place where entertainment is always 
in good supply

Three-minute history

-Home to more than 20,000 Truronians, the earliest settlement in evidence was Norman and dates back to the 12th century.

-Truro initially grew as an important centre of trade from its port and then as a stannary town for the mining industry.

-The Great Western Railway arrived in Truro in the 1860s with a direct line from London Paddington (and there are high hopes that the line will be re-opened this month).

-Lemon Street was named after the mining magnate and local MP Sir William Lemon

-Truro’s importance increased later in the 19th century and it had its own iron smelting works, potteries, and tanneries. The Bishopric of Truro bill was passed in 1876 which gave the town a bishop, then a cathedral. The next year Queen Victoria granted Truro city status.

With so many coastal glories, it is easy to forget that at Cornwall’s (almost) centre sits a city with more than a few charms of its own.

Cornwall doesn’t really do landlocked, Truro sits nine miles from the South coast. As far as the 19th century was nicknamed the London of Cornwall: the stunning elegant Georgian and Victorian townhouses seen today on Lemon Street and Walsingham Place are evidence of the high society which once flocked to live there. More recent additions include the Lemon Quay Piazza where there is always plenty going on from markets to live music.

Lemon Quay Piazza is one of Truro's more modern attractions and is home to Hall for Cornwall as well as the man with the drumLemon Quay Piazza is one of Truro's more modern attractions and is home to Hall for Cornwall as well as the man with the drum

Truro is Cornwall’s third capital - replacing Launceston - the former capital of the Earldom of Cornwall and Lostwithiel that replaced Launceston in the 13th century. Bodmin, once the county’s town at the centre of dishing out justice at its famous gaol handed over the restraints to Truro in the 19th century. A cathedral followed in 1880 and its place as the Britain’s most southerly city was secure.

The best way to experience Truro is to take time and wander and you will quickly find yourself charmed by the cobbled streets, and weighed down with goodies from its many fantastic shops. There are also printed trails you can follow to learn more of its history.

Truro Cathedral set agains a sunny blue sky.Truro Cathedral set agains a sunny blue sky.

Truro’s most recognisable feature - and the landmark which is rarely out of sight - is its gothic-revival Cathedral, designed by architect John Loughborough Pearson. It took 30 years to build, from 1880 to 1910, and was built on the site of the old St. Mary’s Church, consecrated six centuries earlier. Photographers should stop off on the A390 coming into the town from the A30 to capture a great view of the dominating building which rises 76m (249 ft) above the city at its highest spire.

The diary:

Truro is a city of festivals and events. And this month – April – marks their spring festival when the long-awaited season comes alive in riotous colours and shapes

In September the Piazza is taken over by the Cornwall Food & Drink Festival which boasts an ever growing taste of Cornwall, with pop-up restaurants, foodie stalls and happenings with some of our top chefs taking part – including Michelin-starred Nathan Outlaw. And to work off some of that good food, Truro’s half-marathon takes place the same month.

The winter festival is a sight to behold: culminating in the City of Lights Procession: an incredible show of paper lanterns turned into stunning sculpture

We recommend:

Eating out

The Baking Bird – Winners of Cornwall Life Food and Drink Awards 2013 teashop / coffee shop of the year, this beautifully converted chapel is now a place of worship for all things cake. Work your way through their 17 flavours of cupcake at your leisure.

2 Old Bridge St, Truro TR1 2AQ

01872 277849

Bustophers – This splendid bistro is a great place to meet friends for a casual lunch or a slightly posher dinner. We recommend their Eton Mess pudding.

62 Lemon St, Truro TR1 2PN

Also finally the Hub Box: this gourmet burger fest opened its converted metal container doors in time for Christmas 2012 when it was due to stay open for a few weeks and 18 months on is still there!

Hub Box Lemon Quay Piazza

For a touch of old-fashioned charm head to the Charlotte’s Teahouse for pots of tea served in china and plates of sandwiches, scones and cakes in a restored Victorian tea room that oozes charm.

Charlotte’s Teahouse, Coinage Hall, Truro


The Lemon Street Market helpfully houses a range of delightful boutiques, with everything from designer homewares and art to local herbs.

Pannier Market. Hidden off Lemon Street you will find this oasis of. Well, stuff. Get lost among the market stalls selling everything from Cornish fayre and books.

Michael Spiers – Really friendly staff await in this stunning jewellery shop which stocks perfect gifts including Danish silver designer Georg Jenson


Hall for Cornwall is the county’s cultural centre and boasts and incredibly array of theatre, music and dance for all tastes, ages and even budgets. Highlights this spring include Fiddler on the Roof and Peppa Pig.

Heading out

The city is surrounded by incredibly beautiful places: South-West of the city you’ll find an Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty including Calenick Creek. There’s also historic parklands at Pencalenick, and larger areas of ornamental landscape, such as Trelissick Garden and Tregothnan. Other protected areas include Local Nature Reserve Daubuz Moors by the River Allen close to the city centre.

Places to stay

We recommend the incredible Alverton Hotel. Set in gorgeous grounds a mere few minutes stroll from the city centre, the recently refurbished hotel features an incredible restaurant and beautiful rooms – perfect for a weekend break or as a base to visit Cornwall

Latest from the Cornwall Life