If you’re holidaying in Cornwall, it’s unlikely that you’ll be spending much time in Truro. Even though it’s Cornwall’s capital it’s not very big and a day trip is more than adequate for most people.
Having said that, Truro is an easy place to wander around and there are at least a couple of places worth seeking out.
If, like me, you arrive by train, it’s worth knowing that the station is a 10-15 minute walk downhill into the city centre. There are several buses that will transport you down there, but if you don’t use them on arrival you might want to use them for the journey back up.
If you decide to walk, turn left outside the station and walk down Richmond Hill, bear left at the roundabout and continue down Ferris Town to Frances St where you’ll need to turn right. Continuing along Frances St will bring you into River St and the Royal Cornwall Museum on your left. It’s a straightforward walk and if you’ve caught the bus it also stops outside the museum, so the choice is yours. Either way I recommend a visit to the museum and their Arts Café.
At the bottom of River St is Victoria Square, but before you go left towards St. Nicholas St, bear right and walk across the road into Walsingham Place. This curved Georgian terrace might not rank with the likes of Buxton, Harrogate or Bath, but it’s still worth checking out.
Return to Victoria Square and turn right into St Nicholas St, then left into King St.
Turn right into High Cross and Truro Cathedral. Without doubt this is Truro’s main attraction, and even though it might not rank as one of England’s great cathedrals, it certainly repays a visit and really shouldn’t be missed.
Continue to walk down High Cross and then turn right into Cathedral Lane, which is one of those quaint little lanes that you don’t really expect to see in somewhere like Truro.
At the bottom of the lane is Boscawen St, where on the left you can’t fail to notice the Coinage Hall with the War memorial in front of it.
It has to be pointed out, that no matter what it says on the front of the building it’s not really the Coinage Hall at all.
The present building was built in 1848 as The Cornish Bank on the site of the old Coinage Hall, whose history goes back to medieval times.
The original Coinage Hall played an important part in Truro’s (and Cornwall’s) history and so it’s worth going back in time to try and find out a bit more about its function.
As long ago as the 14th century, Truro was one of the 5 Cornish Stannary towns (the others being Bodmin, Lostwithiel, Helston and Liskeard). These towns were responsible for assaying tin which involved cutting off a coign (corner) of ingot and then weighing and measuring it for tax purposes, and as no doubt you would have already guessed, this procedure was carried out at the Coignage Hall.
There’s nothing in today’s Coignage Hall to connect with this part of Truro’s history, but it’s still a fine building all the same.
If you keep to the left and walk down Duke St, look out for the narrow lane on the left called Squeeze Guts Alley. There’s a ghost associated with this alley, and there’s definitely not room for the two of us.
If you cross over Duke St and turn right into Quay St this will bring you to my favourite Truro watering hole – the Old Ale House.
On the opposite side of the road, turn right into Green St and the bus station, but before you contemplate catching the bus back up to the railway station, take a wander around Lemon Quay.
This is where the River Kenwyn makes an appearance before joining the Truro River. There’s not much to see where that’s concerned, but Lemon Quay is one of Truro’s focal points for fairs and outdoor exhibitions.
If you’re into controversial art, take a look if you dare, at the sculpture known as ‘An Tabourer’ in Cornish and ‘The Drummer’ to the rest of us. Located in Back Quay outside the Hall for Cornwall, it stirred up a bit of controversy when it was unveiled in 2011 by Roger Taylor, (the drummer for Queen, who grew up in Truro) when it appeared with the essential bottom half of clothing missing. As with all artists, Tim Shaw, the sculptor, had answers for all the doubters.
I’ve just given an outline of what’s on offer between the railway station and the bus station, but obviously you may want to do your own wandering.
Several buses go back up to the railway station, but as they are prone to change the numbers of the buses, it’s best to ask at the bus station which ones they are.