#shoparttrail – Collaboration with Truro Businesses and the Truro Festival

Last month we had some tremendous support from the Truro businesses who hosted a group of artists’ work in prominent locations of their shop windows.  You can maybe appreciate how precious your shop window is.  It is about what you sell, who you are and entices those from the outside to look in and perhaps go inside and make a purchase.

The Truro Festival organised the #shopArtTrail which allowed visitors to explore Truro further and discover eleven artists’ work displayed in the city.  A great way to be in the fresh air, follow the map and to learn something new.  Visitors picked up the trail checklist from the festival marquee on Lemon Quay and went on their way to enjoy art and to explore Truro deeper.

At the top of Pydar Street the artist Laura Wray was able to display several pieces of art, complimenting the art gallery café of InnerTide on Pydar Street perfectly with its nooks and reclaimed shelves.


Pennyworths displayed Felicity Tattersall’s amazing Samuel Footes tea party scene.  Felicity took time to write a piece on Mr. Samuel Foote, who was the theme of the Truro Festival and decorated the delightful window display on High Cross.  I do believe the sweets were a slight distraction for her and she enjoyed the colours of the shop with glee!  This is a great example where the shop and the art worked together to create a display.

Businesses window displays (2)

Pennyworths Coffee House with Samuel Foote

(You may be wondering who Samuel Foote is, well  for the next three-years the Truro Festival will focus on a forgotten Truronian from the 18th century. In his day, Samuel Foote was the first stand-up comedian and known as the funniest man in London. He was a Cornishman with a larger-than-life personality, who wowed audiences at his tea parties in the fashionable coffee houses of Covent Garden.)



Samuel Foote

Midtown Deli & Cafe on King’s Street, was host to Leonardo Santolamazza’s work.  Leonardo has worked with Totally Truro the Business Improvement District on many previous projects, including BIG ART.  The Italian born artist is passionate about his work and his style is distinctive.

Malletts Home Hardware situated on Victoria Square, hosted Beano cartoonist, Nick Brennan.  Nick is a cartoonist and illustrator and is a great inspiration.  During the festival he hosted a cartoon workshop, which the children really enjoyed.

Nick Brennan (2)

Magpie & Fox held two vibrant pieces of art in their window from Tom Sutcliffe and Mat McIvor.  The art suited the fashion boutique on River Street to the ‘T’.

Truro Fabrics hosted Sam Bradbury’s newly created puppets.  Manager of Truro Fabrics commented that they noticed people looking into the widow and checking it on their maps.  Sam’s work was most at home at Truro Fabrics and again was well suited to this creative business on Calenick Street.

Archie Browns had an amazing window display with the silhouette of Truro Cathedral, the city penned in Silver and the Truro Festival Guides clearly celebrating the arrival of the Truro Festival .  Emeilia Wharfe is a freelance, illustrator and writer who displayed interesting and delicate pieces of work hung in Archie Brown’s window.  Emeilia aslo created the enlightening Truro Festival display and information board about Samuel Foote.  This specially commissioned installation is to reintroduce the extraordinary life of Foote to Truro and many of the festivals events are aimed at celebrating and educating audiences about the first ever stand up comedian!

Vertigo is a fun, vibrant bar and restaurant.  One of the best places for a night out in Truro.  It has funky lines and patterns as its décor and Charlotte Davis displayed one of her drawings within their window.  Charlotte loves lines and precision and this piece of art hung in their window with ease.

Sam’s in the City held sketches from Rowena Siorvanes.  The work, created specifically to be shown at Sam’s was beautifully hung and displayed in this smart and stylish eatery in the entrance.  So whilst waiting to be seated, the arts location within the restaurant, allowed customers to view and enjoy the work.  Rowena’s art of simple pen and ink, displayed people enjoyed eating seafood and Sam’s in the City sell’s similar types of dishes.  Rowena is inspired by people in everyday life that she observes – all their characteristics with simple line drawing.

Finally talented artist, Keith Sparrow displayed his work in Waterstones, Boscawen Street with some manga style creativity!  In fact, he took this to a new level by creating artwork live in the window.  This similar concept was taken by Uneeka Life, just a few doors down, who had artists working in their window each day, pop up – during the festival. It is these collaborations that we like to celebrate!


Keith Sparrow manga workshop on Lemon Quay

Uneeka’s window on Boscawen Street is their pride and joy – the store relishes in being creative with their window and it was wonderful to have them on board with the Truro Festival.

Visit Truro decorated their window beautifully during the festival.  Thank you to all those businesses who participated and joined in the #trurofestival in any way they could.  Visitors were able to spot eleven artists’ work in the shop windows around Truro with ease.


Ian Kelly image 1

Ian Kelly

Following on from the Truro Festival, there is an evening with actor and director Ian Kelly fresh from the West End production of the hit play ‘Mr Foote’s Other Leg‘. Ian will give a talk about his research into the life of the enigmatic Truro-born Samuel Foote.7.30pm on Thursday 26 May in the Lander Gallery CafeTickets are £10.00 and available from www.crbo.co.uk


Ladies night out at The Truro Festival

Truro Festival began with a jam packed Saturday full of events and activities to pick and choose from.  Instead of being involved with this particular Festival event, this time, I organised two of my friends to join me in attending this woman only occasion – ‘Salon du Chocolat’ performed by Rebecca Mordan and Sharon Andrew.  The duo are talented in their ability to convey literature that captivates and entertains.  I had indicated to my friends that Salon du Chocolat was performed by Scary Little Girls Theatre company.

Salon Du chocolat

When chocolate was first brought to England in the 1600s, it was considered a taboo substance, enjoyed only by the scandalous and elite in private salons.  Some of our finest literature was also once considered too provocative for public consumption and was heard in similar salon environments by only the boldest of ears!

Scary Little Girls invited a female-only audience to join them for a stimulating and intimate evening of storytelling celebrating the relationship between salons, chocolate and forbidden literature!  We heard of tales which explored female desires from authors such as Edna St Vincent Millay, Stella Duffy, John Keats and Daphne du Maurier – and of course enjoyed chocolate treats too!

I met the delightful performers at last year’s Truro Festival in our cosy yurt on Lemon Quay during howling gales.  It was a fabulous evening full of laughter and decadent literature.

As this was our rare ‘girls night out’ in Truro we organised, to try the new bar and wine merchant ‘The Art of Wine’  situated in Nalders Court before heading to the show.  Home to some fabulous independent fashion boutiques such as Melange, Plum and Benetton, as well as The Original Art ShopNalders Court leads off Pydar Street, just at the entrance to Laura Ashley.

The Art of Wine has a unique and chic interior where we could sample wines from a smart gadget dispenser called WineEmotion.  The dispenser keeps the wine at a perfect temperature and we were able to sample the wine at a reasonable price per glass, small, medium or large.  We managed to sample two, with guidance from the knowledgeable Roland.  I preferred the fruity South African Sauvignon Blanc, Ataraxia by Kevin Grant. I ended up buying a bottle for a special occasion.

We then, raced off for the performance at 7pm on Lemon Quay.  The marquee was decorated in the theme of Samuel Foote.  (Truro’s long lost Truronian from the 18th century, he was the first stand-up comedian and known as the funniest man in London.)  The lights were dimmed and the lectern was poised for the drama to unfold.  We had exerts from ‘A Letter to my Love’ by Nicholas Stuart Gray, to ‘In Praise of Older Women’ by Frank Kaiser.  During the interval we were served rich hot chocolate from Oscars Coffee Shop and Deli (from Samuel Foote’s Coffee house), as well as delicious homemade brownies with flickers of ginger.

Salon Du Chocolac

The evening continued with highlights from ‘Mistress of the Art of Death’ by Ariana Franklin and ended on a high with ‘The Ballad of Freda and Barry’ by Victoria Wood.  In a flash of the eye, the evening was over and you could tell that the audience thoroughly enjoyed it – wonderful to hear good hearty laughter from all the women.

Poldark’s walking tour of Truro

I have not read the books and have started watching the TV series, however I have had the pleasure in visiting sites in Truro frequented by the fictional hero Ross Poldark in this 18th century coinage Town.

Coinage Poldark Tour (1)

Viv Robinson of Absolutours conducted the tours this April in her unmistakable Poldark tricorn hat!  Viv bought the story to life and enabled us to imagine what life was truly like for those who lived during that time.

Winston Graham is the author of the books, along with the popular television programme and has enticed audiences into the romanticism of their love of Cornwall’s natural beauty.  Viv assures us, that the author tried to write as near to the truth of what life was like in his 18th century novels. This you can glean from the books.

We discover that Poldark’s Truro was filmed in the port of Charlestown which is where the characters of the book come and buy their fresh produce, go shopping, gambling, banking and to the ‘Red Lion’ pub (The Co-Operative on Boscawen Street) in Truro.

Poldark Tour (2)Poldark Tour (4)

Poldark was based between 1783 and 1790, when Truro was just a town – there was no cathedral but there was a port.  During this time Truro looked very different.  The Red Lion pub had a large mahogany staircase (now in Godolphin House) and it had many rooms and was impressive.

During the story, The Poldark family name was long established but the ‘nuwe’ rich were the up and coming working class, such as the Warleggan’s who rose from being blacksmiths to mine owners and then bankers.  There was a small prison in Truro called a clink and many who were convicted after waiting for trial here were then sent to Bodmin, much larger prisons or deported to Australia.  There were many poor people who were sentenced harshly for small crimes.

I discovered that coinage hall (Charlotte’s Tea House) , as it stands today, is not the original building and was rebuilt. Truro was a coinage town and this gave it some prominence and stature. The tin was bid upon at ticketings held in the Red Lion and then went on to the smelters. On coinage days smelted tin was bought from mines such as St Agnes into Truro and the blocks were weighed and stamped with the seal of the crown to whom taxes would be paid. This was necessary before tin could be exported.  From looking down at Boscawen Street from coinage hall, the street is wide, however there used to be a middle row of houses, which are no longer there.


Cathedral Lane was originally called Church lane and was full of trade’s people, this led to St Marys Church which was built in 1548 and now nestles in the Cathedral which was built in 1880.  Along St Marys Street, is the Old Grammar School, which was considered to be the ‘Eton’ of Cornwall, where professional classes would learn.  The famous artist, John Opie was discovered by Dr Wolcott who attended this school and fictional characters Ross and Francis Poldark also studied here.

Old GrammSt Marys STreet

Truro was much smaller then and had a new bridge (New Bridge Street) and an old bridge (Old Bridge Street) across the Allen River.  Where the cathedral was, there was industry, carpet makers, millers and many pubs, such as the Bear Inn (opposite The Baking Bird, where only a few bricks remain).  During this time the cost of bread was high and people were hungry and there were often food riots.

Old BridgeNew BridgeThe Bear

The Assembly rooms (Warrens Bakery and Acorn Recruitment) is where grand balls were held, this building was unique and was used for enjoyment.  There was a theatre inside, with the emblems of Thalia, the muse of comedy, David Garrick and William Shakespeare on the façade of the building.  Truro at this time was trying to rival Bath.  Highcross was the old churchyard and the Warleggan family of Poldark’s (BHS) town house was close by.

WarrensHigh CRoss

Cock fighting was extremely popular during this time and there were several cock pits in Truro, one being on the circle outside B Juicy Café and Lunch Café.

Cock ring

Pydar Street was a popular residential street and the closer you lived to town the grander the houses were.  Kenwyn Street is referred to in Poldark where all the shopping is done.  The Warleggans were an example of a ‘nuwe’ rich family, who originally earned their money as blacksmiths.  They had a carriage, with footman and this was rare in those days, not many people had carriages and there is a piece in the book where people admire the carriage outside the Warleggan’s town house.

Walking through Roberts Ope (Breathe) you can see the Kenwyn River where boats would sail down and the banks of the river would be muddy and smelly.  Houses (The White Store) would then view what boats were in Truro.  In 1798 the bridge was built and Mannings Hotel is close to where the commercial hub of Truro was.  In 1799, a new route was opened up from the west and Lemon Street was built and the Lemon Street Market provided stabling for carriages and horses as they came in off the road.

Lemon Street

The Dolphin Pub lies opposite the corner of Green Street (Handelsbanken) and used to be a popular refreshment venue. In 1706, Samuel Enys, a merchant from Penryn, built the house, now known as ‘The Bridal House of Cornwall’, which was a grand residence where you could view the ships.  Princes Street held the grandest houses during that time, Princes House was built in 1740.  Next door Mount Fuddle (Wearhouse) and the Mansion House, made with Bath stone can be found.

The Bridal House of Cornwall outside Kirstin Prisk Photography

Truro is a Georgian city with Victorian architecture.  I relished going on this walking tour, it brought the Poldark story to life.  I enjoyed finding out the history of Truro and the little taste of what life was like during that period.

Viv and team of Blue Badge guides will be running walking tours throughout the summer called, ‘Truro Now and Then’, from Wednesday the 6th May, 11am from Visit Truro Information Centre, Boscawen Street, Truro, TR1 2NE.   Pre-booking advisable on 01872 274555 or tic@truro.gov.uk max 15 people Adults £6 and Children £3.50.  These will then run every Wednesday until 30th September. Dates for the ‘Poldark walks’can also be obtained from Visit Truro Information Centre.