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 façade 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. wwww.janejackson.net