Social History / Istori Socyal

The Museum of Cornish Life has a vast social history collection. Dating from the 18th to the 20th century, the range of objects covers agriculture, local trades and industries, law and order, town history, home life, toys, sporting equipment, gardening, transport and health and leisure activities.

Short Films with a Helston Focus:

Flora Day – For hundreds of years people have celebrated the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The houses and shops of the town are decorated with greenery and floral arrangements to mark the day. This quick tour is in memory of cancelled Flora Day 2020 

Henry TrengrouseA Cabinet Maker, born in Helston in 1772,  who witness the appalling loss of over 100 lives when `HMS ANSON` was wrecked on the Loe Bar in 1807. This tragedy inspired him to devised a life saving method of firing a rocket and line from a vessel to the shore. To find out what is in our collection view this quick collection tour.

Bob Fitzsimmons – Was the first fighter to hold the world boxing championship in three weight divisions. Born in Helston in 1863 he moved with his family to New Zealand. His professional fighting career only began when he moved to Australia aged 20, in around 1883. In 1890 he then sailed to the United States winning his first the world title in 1891.

Short Films with a Focus on Social History:

Related objects

Resourceful ‘Henry the Parrot’

Although now very much defunct, this bird – actually a galah cockatoo – was most enterprising when alive. He is believed to have flown from the ‘Socoa’ which went aground in thick fog near Cadgwith on 31st July 1906. She was on passage from the Baltic port of Stettin to San Francisco with a cargo

‘Absconded’ Poster

This notice from 1816 offering a reward for the return of a young woman apprentice to her ‘Master’ at Sithney is a stark reminder  that the selling of people for work was also practised here.’Parish apprentices’ were poor and often illegitimate children, probably from the workhouse and sometimes from distant areas, who were indentured to

Cockle’s Antibilious Pills

Whether these pills would help a party hangover is debatable, but in the early 1800s James Cockle ran a highly successful branding exercise to promote his Compound Antibilious Pills among the upper echelons of society. Advertisements claimed the pills contained ‘no mercury, nor noxious ingredient whatever’, unlike many other medicines of the time. In essence

7 Meneage Street Window

This window, dating back perhaps to the English Civil War, is now part of the Museum’s Victorian kitchen display. It came to light in the late 1990s when number 7 Meneage Street, now a shop, was converted from a bakery into a building society. Windows were taxed between 1696 and 1851, and only the rich

Pre-decimal cash register.

This manual cash register, ancestor of today’s computerised tills, can be dated accurately to the 1960s, before Britain changed to decimal currency in 1971. Although it has keys designated for pennies and halfpennies, it lacks the farthing or quarter of a penny, which was abolished in 1961. The precursor of decimal currency was the ‘pounds,

Granny Boswell

Ann Boswell, (known as Granny Boswell) was a noted fortune teller and wise woman. Born in Ireland in 1813 to Romany lineage. Ann and her husband Ephraim (known as king of the gypsies) came to Helston during the 1860’s. Together they had six children. People from in and around the Helston area would often go

Flindell’s Bible

Thomas Flindell (1767 – 1824) was a Cornish editor, printer and publisher known for launching and editing multiple newspapers over the course of his life, including the Stannary Press at Helston in 1798 and the Cornwall Gazette and Falmouth Packet in 1801. Flindell’s Bible was published in 1799, however publication stopped in 1801 after the