Cornish People Share Stories of Their Culture and Heritage

Updated on January 2, 2024 by Meg Pier

Cornish People Share Stories of Their Culture and Heritage

Meet Cornish People Creating and Preserving Their Culture!

The Cornish people have a wealth of unique and meaningful customs, authentic artisanal traditions, and majestic historical monuments that shape Cornish culture.

Cornwall in England is a world apart. It may be a part of the United Kingdom politically and geographically but this remote and rugged region has an identity and way of life that is more Celtic than English. Located on a windswept peninsula that is surrounded by the English Channel, Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is the most south westerly point in the U.K. Its long history reflects its geography and terrain; fishing and farming were mainstays for centuries, along with mining of tin and copper.

A distance of 257 miles from London, Cornwall can be reached from England’s capital in 9.5 hours by train and about six hours by car. The flight into Newquay is only an hour and 15 minutes. However you arrive, you’ll immediately sense a slower pace, a salt-of-the-earth demeanor and a strong sense of pride in a stunning landscape that has shaped a distinctive culture. In fact, in 2014 the Cornish were recognized as a national ethnic minority who trace their Celtic roots to the ancient Britons who inhabited southern and central Great Britain before the Roman conquest.

From Medieval times through the 18th century, the Cornish language and culture became increasingly anglicized. In the early 20th century, a Cornish renaissance began, with a growing number of the county’s half-million residents declaring themselves “Cornish first and British second”. Cornwall has a strong folk tradition and an extensive roster of festivals with pagan roots are held throughout the year to commemorate ancient legends. At the same time, Cornwall is an epicenter of modern and abstract art thanks to the St. Ives School art colony founded in 1928.

Cornwall in England Best Things To Do In St Ives
The picturesque costal town of St Ives.

We share with you some of the traditions of Cornish people and how the country’s heritage practices are very much alive and well today, and accessible to travelers. Welcome and enjoy! And check out our sister YouTube channel Flip the Lens, where people from all walks of life create and contribute videos about what it means to be a human!

Guides to Experiencing Cornish Culture

Cornwall in England is one of those places that rewards aimless drives as wherever the road takes you, you are sure to find stunning scenery and cozy nooks and crannies packed with cultural heritage. But for those who like to have an itinerary of cultural sites rather than leaving things to chance, we offer two guides: one that focuses exclusively on things to do in St. Ives, a destination that has a rich history–including as a modern art colony. For those seeking a broader view of things to do in Cornwall in England, we present a look at 20 cultural experiences that we recommend you explore over a two-week period.

Cornwall in England Things To Do In Cornwall

Cornwall Home to Impressive Horticulture

Are you a garden lover? Thanks to its location, Cornwall has a unique microclimate that is suitable for a breadth of botany. The county’s history also includes a period in the 19th century when the landed gentry built magnificent gardens on their estates, dispatching “plant hunters” to far-flung locales around the world to source exotic botany. We feature the backstory to the contemporary stewards of one such place, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, as well as profiling the expert green thumbs behind the Eden Project, a social enterprise dedicated to demonstrating the relationship between people and the natural world.

Cornwall in England Eden Project
Eden Project, Cornwall.

The Coastal Heritage of Cornwall in England

All of it is beautiful–and about 60% of the coast in Cornwall is designated as “heritage coast” by Natural England. If you’re ambitious, you can walk the South West Coast Path, a cultural corridor that encompasses the 422 miles of the Cornish coast that has 19th century origins as a route the Coast Guard patrolled for smugglers. If you’d rather base yourself in one or two locales and make leisurely day excursions, the coastline of Cornwall features numerous National Nature Reserves, as well as two World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve and a Geopark.

Cornwall in England Shipwreck Treasure Museum
Charlestown Harbour, home of the Shipwreck Treasure Museum.

Many of Cornwall’s maritime communities have local museums that may be small but are chock full of fascinating artifacts that bring to life the area’s history of residents that include fishermen; pirates; tin miners; painters; and perhaps even King Arthur. One to be sure to explore is the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown!

Fishing Villages in Cornwall | The Character Behind the Charm

Polperro Fishing Village Cornwall
The beautiful fishing village of Polperro

Fishing villages of Cornwall exude an historic charm and quaintness that have long made harbors like those of Mevagissey and Polperro alluring to travelers. Yet many visitors don’t have the chance to connect with the way of life that underpins the distinctive character of these iconic port towns. We’ll take you beyond the daytripper’s romanticized glimpse of Cornwall’s waterfront to see its essence through the eyes of the local fishermen whose boats are such eye candy to tourists.

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