Saturday, April 17, 2010

Living history

The Great Office.

For a historical novelist one of the great pleasures of living in Cornwall is that in many of the towns there are areas that have remained unchanged for centuries. Helston – a town featured in several of my recent books, and the one I’m currently writing - is an excellent example. Helston was one of the first towns in Cornwall to achieve borough status when King John granted it the first Royal Charter over 800 years ago. This charter cost the people of Helston 40 marks of silver, a great deal of money. But it also granted them freedom from national taxes, the right to control local trade, and to demand tolls.

The Great Office at No 5 Cross Street, (which features in Taken to Heart, my current work-in-progress) was built in the early 1700s in what was then Helston’s grandest road where the town’s professional gentlemen, the lawyers, bankers and businessmen, built houses that reflected their wealth and status.

For over 200 years The Great Office has been the address for numerous firms of solicitors. The town’s first bankers - pursers (treasurers) looking after the accounts of local mines - also had offices in this imposing building. And though over the years the property has been extended, the fa├žade remains unchanged, as does its name.

Next time I'll tell you the scandalous history of one of Helston's ancient inns.

I now have a new page on my website where I shall be posting interesting bits of research, plus news, views and photos. So do drop by.

Jane Jackson.


Jan Jones said...

Local history is always fascinating, Jane. Love the sense of places stretching back in time.

kate tremayne said...

Great post Jane and shows us why your novels really take readers into a visual experience of your settings. They are also great romantic dramas with unusual background themes that also make them so memorable.

Jane Jackson said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Jan and Kate. It's so exciting to discover some nugget of information I didn't know about a town I've known all my life. Because there are always more fascinating facts to discover, the tough part is knowing when to call a halt. Research would completely take over if I wasn't strict with myself!