Gorsedh Kernow

The Cornish Gorsedd 1928 - 2011

De Sadorn an 3a Mis Gwynngala 2011.
Saturday 3rd September 2011.

This year’s ceremony will be held at Penrose Amenity Area, Helston.

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A Brief History of Helston

The earliest reference to Helston is when Harold, Earl of Cornwall, became King after the death of his brother-in-law, Edward the Confessor on the 5th of January, 1066. At the Domesday Inquest, 1086, Helston was still owned by the Crown.

Helston’s first Charter was granted by King John in 1201, making Helston a Free Borough. Various privileges were granted in this and subsequent Charters. The first was the right for tenants to hold houses and lands under their landlords instead of being peasants, working under conditions of slavery. It also gave the inhabitants the right to hold their own court – Helston was then known as Henliston; Old Court Town. The right to hold a weekly market and four annual fairs helped to make the town more independent and prosperous.

Edmund, Earl of Cornwall (1272-1300) built a small castle or stronghold in the vicinity of the Bowling Green. Helston could be invaded from the sea as ships could sail up to the lower regions of the town through a tidal creek. Towards the end of the 13th century, Helston was completely cut off from the sea by the formation of a bank of shingle known as the Loe Bar – the castle then fell into ruins.

In 1305, King Richard made Helston one of the five Coinage Towns in Cornwall. The town lay in close proximity to a number of rich tin mines – two of the richest were Wheal Vor and Great Work. A Coinage Hall was built in the middle of the western end of Coinagehall Street where the tin was brought to be assayed; tested for purity and if meeting the requirement, was stamped with the Duchy arms.

A market house was built in 1576 where the Guildhall stands today. The mid 19th century saw much expansion in the town because of a population increase due to mining activity. This necessitated the building of a large market house in 1837-38, now the museum. The old market house was demolished to make a site for the Guildhall in 1839.

Fortunes began to change again towards the end of the 19th century – mining declined, and there was a mass exodus of miners, some with their families, to foreign parts to look for work.

In 1887, there was great celebration in the town when Helston Railway was opened. A Branch line connected the town with the main line at Gwinear Road. This opened up the town and the Lizard Peninsula to visitors and new hotels were built to cater for their needs. Sadly, the railway closed in 1962 to passenger service but stayed open for a further two years to deal with freight; finally closing on the 4th of October, 1964.

During the mid 20th century, there was the arrival of a new Air Station, RNAS Culdrose. This gave employment to a civilian workforce. The town once again began to expand with new estates being built providing homes for naval personnel; by the 1960s, Helston was once again a thriving town.

Today, like so many towns, Helston is struggling to survive mainly due to the loss of the Cattle Market and ‘out of town’ supermarkets. But there is still a certain pride held by those who want to see the town prosper again. The annual Spring festival, the renowned Flora Day, breathes new life into Helston and hope once again for the future. A Farmers’ Market has been set up which has proved a huge success.

So who knows – perhaps Helston will, as it was known centuries ago, again become the "Metropolis of the West".

Compiled by Martin Matthews, 2011
Carer Hellys

Helston Wesley Church
Helston Wesley Church

Civic Reception in the Town Centre

This is organized by the Mayor of Helston and it has been decided not to have a morning civic procession and reception this year.

Car parking for bards Please click here to view map (PDF) for local car parks. There is a free car park next to the Gorsedd site in Penrose Amenity Area (1 on map).

Public attendance is FREE and welcome and it is hoped that visitors will regard the ceremony as a mark of the unique difference between Cornwall and the shire counties of England. The ceremony will be conducted by the Grand Bard, Mr. Mick Paynter, Skogynn Pryv, assisted by the Gorsedd Officers.

The Gorsedh site

The route from the main roads will be marked by black and yellow Gorsedh Kernow signs. The site for the ceremony is Penrose Amenity Area, Helston (1 on map).

Seating: The chairs forming the Bardic circle are for Bards and Dignitaries only. Visitors can view the ceremony from the outside of the circle of Bardic chairs, and are asked not to intrude into the Bardic circle.

Wet Weather: In the event of wet weather, the Gorsedd will take place in the Helston Wesley Church.

Photography: No photographers will be allowed in the circle during the ceremony.

Stalls: A number of official stalls, at the site in the Penrose Amenity Area, will be selling Cornish language books and Cornish memorabilia on the day. Details from Keskerdh Kernow, see stalls letter or call Jenefer Lowe tel 07882 517 192. Click here for booking form for Gorsedh stalls.

Exhibitions and events: In Gorsedd week, there will be exhibitions and events organized by Esedhvos Kernow - click here for Esedhvos programme (pdf), click here for Esedhvos flyer (pdf). Your attendance will be welcome - click here for Esedhvos booking form.

Ceremony Booklet: By tradition the ceremony is conducted mainly in Cornish and the booklet with proceedings in English and Cornish is available at a small cost of £1.

Public concert: This will be held in the Helston Wesley Church and will commence at 19.00 . Tickets price £6.00.

Formal Tea: For Bards and specially invited guests only. This will be in the Godolphin Club, in the main street (8 on the map). Please be there by 17.00 for Grace in Cornish. There are facilities elsewhere in Helston for those not permitted to attend the formal tea. Please note that the closing date for tea tickets will be strictly adhered to. Tickets will be provided without cost and seats reserved on the top table for the invited guests. Tickets for the Evening Concert will be provided on the same basis.

Commemorative Mugs: Attractive mugs are being produced as a souvenir in fine bone china, at a cost of £6.50; these should be ordered through the booking form. See design below.

Commemorative Mugs

Celtic Delegates: The Gorsedd welcomes the Breton and the Welsh representatives. We hope they have a memorable time.

The Gorsedd Council is very grateful to Helston Local Organising Committee, who have worked tirelessly to give us a memorable day, the local Old Cornwall Society, the Vicar & Congregation of St. Michael’s Parish Church, and to local organisations and volunteers for their welcome and for the help given, without whose assistance our ceremony could not be staged.

Gorsedh Kernow – Helston 3rd September 2011

    14:00 Bardic Procession leaves for the Circle.
    14:30 The Gorsedh Ceremony will begin.
    15:30 (approx.) Return of Procession to Helston Wesley Church.
    16:00 (approx.) Arrival at Helston Wesley Church.
    17:00 Prompt! Bardic Tea in the Godolphin Club for the Council's special guests and bards who have pre-booked.
    19:00-21:00 Public Concert in Helston Wesley Church.
To facilitate the work of the Marshals and Stewards in forming the procession, it is requested that Bards and guests acquaint themselves with the linear order of the procession, which is as follows:-
    Marshal, Piper, Gorsedd Banner, Initiates, Bards, St. Piran’s Banner, Council Members, Esedhvos Banner, Mistress of Robes and Herald, Chanter and Chaplain, Horner, Dancers, Lady and Attendants, Past Grand Bards, Secretary and Treasurer, Breton Banner, Breton Reps., Welsh Banner, Welsh Reps., Deputy Grand Bard, Sword Bearer, Grand Bard, Junior Marshal, Deputy Senior Steward, Banners O.C.S.

Sunday 4th September
    15:00 Ecumenical Service in Cornish in St. Michael's Parish Church, Helston. The collection is for the Church, and all are welcome whether Cornish speakers or not.


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