Thursday Thoughts: The Turk’s Head


Here in Cornwall, Sarah and I came to Penzance where I will be speaking at the LitFest. One of our first ports of call (an appropriate idiom!) was the Turk’s Head, which is reputed to have been built in 1233. As Chapter 72 in “The Miner & the Viscount” describes, it’s the place where the miner Addis Penwarden was locked up in the gaol after the disturbance in the magistrates’ court.

“You say that Penwarden is here at the Turk’s Head?” asked Polkinghorne. “That seems strange, why here?”

“This is an old building, and the constables use the cell as the town gaol,” said Perry. “It’s the first inn in England to be called the Turk’s Head you know; it’s used for many purposes. It was built over five hundred years ago. They say that a party of Turks from Jerusalem invaded Penzance back then when they were excommunicated during the Sixth Crusade. Imagine that! Might be a bit of a tall yarn, more likely Barbary corsairs. Anyroad, there are still priests’ holes upstairs. And the floor above that is a fisherman’s loft used to store nets.”

I tried to find the old lock-up in the garden behind the inn, but it has been pulled down and the stone back wall is all that remains.

The bar is snug and offers a fine selection of hard ciders. Gary the publican recommended Old Rosie, a local favorite and delicious, but half a pint was enough. The alchol content was 7.4%!

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