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Madron (Cornish: Eglosmadern) is a civil parish and village in west Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is a large rural parish on the Penwith peninsula north of Penzance. It is bounded by the parishes of Sancreed and St Just to the west, by Zennor and Morvah to the north, by the sea and the parish of Paul in the south and by the parishes of Gulval and Penzance to the east. Madron village is situated approximately two miles (3 km) northwest of Penzance town centre. The main villages and hamets are Tredinnick, Lower Ninnes, New Mill, Newbridge and Tregavarah. The population was 1,466 at the 2001 census.
The parish church, is in the churchtown and is dedicated to Madron (or Madrona) (in local dialect "Maddern"). The word Modron appears in Cornish and Welsh literature, Modron being the mother goddess, mother of Mabon (after whom the parish and village of St Mabyn is named).
Evidence of early medieval habitation at Madron is in the form of one or two inscribed stones. One was found in the wall of the village church and has since been removed; the inscription consists of a cross and legible text, but its meaning is not clear. The other inscription was reported by R. A. Stewart Macalister in 1949 as being 'built into the N. wall of the N. aisle, west of the entrance door' of the church, but has not been seen since; Elisabeth Okasha speculates that Macalister may have seen the inscription in another church, and misremembered its location. Langdon (1896) records eight stone crosses in the parish, of which one is in the churchyard and one is at Heamoor.
Madron was recorded in the Domesday Book. It was within the Manor of Alverton, an area that in the Anglo-Saxon and medieval period formed much of what is now the southern part of west Penwith. The church itself was once under the control of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem and was known by the Cornish name of Landithy, a name which is still used in parts of the village today.
Madron Well was, until the 18th century, the principal source of water for the nearby town of Penzance and Madron Church was the mother church of Penzance.
The news of the death of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was received first in Britain by the arrival of HMS Pickle en route to Falmouth under the command of Lieut. John Richards Lapenotiere in Mount's Bay. It is believed a fishing vessel from Penzance passed the news to the shore which was formally announced from the balcony of the Assembly Rooms (now the Union Hotel) in Chapel Street, Penzance. Since the mother church of Penzance was at Madron, the mayor of Penzance took up a procession which made its way to Madron where a memorial service was held and the Nelson banner was paraded for the first time. On it was the epitaph “Mourn for the brave, the immortal Nelson’s gone. / His last sea fight is fought, his work of Glory done”. Storms in the English Channel meant that Nelson’s body did not arrive by sea in London until January 1806. However subsequent literature on the Union Hotel and Madron Church makes no mention, of these events, and it is not recorded in the Borough records or the Royal Cornwall Gazette, the only Cornish newspaper at that time. An annual Trafalgar Service commemorating the death of Nelson was started on 27 October 1946 when so many people attended that the service was relayed outside. These services continue to this day. The Trafalgar Fields housing development was so named to reinforce the links with Nelson.
Once situated within the parish of Madron was the Penzance Union Workhouse. The Penzance Poor Law Union was formed on 10 June 1837 and the population that fell within the Union at the time of the 1831 census was just under 40,000. The Penzance Union workhouse was built in 1838. Designed by George Gilbert Scott and William Bonython Moffatt, it was intended to house four hundred paupers and cost £6,050 to build. It was in use until 1948 when the National Health Service came into being.
Landithy Hall, which opened in 1909, contains the Community Rooms and tea rooms where guests can stay the night and hosts many village events. It is here that Madron Parish Council holds the majority of its meetings, the other venue being Trythall School, near New Mill.
Madron Feast Week is from the first Sunday in Advent. The Western Hunt traditionally meets at Madron on Feast Monday and also on Boxing Day.
The village has a Garden of Remembrance for the dead of both World Wars.
For the purposes of local government Madron elects its own parish council. Under the 1934 restructure of local government the then Penzance Borough Council made representation to include the village of Madron within its boundaries but due to strong local resistance this move was defeated. The nearby settlement of Heamoor (until 1934 part of the parish) was included within the revised boundaries of the borough and remains part of the parish of Penzance to this day.
Madron Daniell's Endowed School was built by George Daniell in 1710 (his family were Lords of the Manor of Alverton in Penzance since the 7th century). It is located next to the parish church with a view over Penzance and Mount's Bay. It is, to a degree, remarkable since it has a cottage for the head master on site. The school was extended from the original two classrooms to its current size in the late 1960s. It has subsequently been renamed St Maddern's Church of England School.
The nearby Madron Well is an example of a Cornish Celtic sacred site, which is renowned for its healing properties. A tradition at this site persists to this day whereby people attach pieces of rag (clouties) to the nearby bushes as a symbol of appeasement to the spirits within the well site (see also Clootie well). Until the 18th century it was the only source of water for Madron and Penzance.
A short distance away is the ruined well-chapel (also known as Madron Baptistry) which has been dated to the 6th century, but is likely to have even earlier foundations. The building measures 7 metres by 5 metres and has no roof, and it is not known if it ever had a roof. Ivy and wild roses creep over the walls and ferns grow from between the granite blocks. Spring water, from the same source as the original well, is fed into a stone basin in the south-western corner. A low altar stone may be seen against the eastern wall, and stone seats line the walls.
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