' Although Truro has been called, wittily but not wisely, by a certain statesman "a barnd new city" it is really nearly as old as most of our English cathedral cities. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086-7 as Trewret and Treurgen, and then consisted of two manors and jurisdictions, as indeed it was called until made a city -" the borough and manor of Truro." It may have existed in early Brito-Celtic times, as its position is and always must have been a good one,, and the adjacent parishes (or churches) of Kea, of Kenwyn, and St. Clement's bring us back to the earliest age of British Christian history. Few of our English cities, except those founded on the sites of Roman camps or fortresses, as Colchester, or Chester, or York, are really more ancient than Truro.
The first Charter of the borough was granted by King John, and it was therein styled the Burgusde Trewrow.
Before his time, however, i.e., in the days of King Stephen, Truru or Truru-burgh was in the possession of Richard de Lacy. In the reign of Henry II. he resided in the castle, which he is supposed to have built. The site of the castle is now a cattle market, and it was " clean down " in the time of Henry VIII. William de Briewere in the time of John held part of the manor.
Truro sent two Members to Parliament in 1294, i.e., 23rd Edward I., so from a Parliamentary standpoint it held a higher position in the reign of the first Edward than at present, when it is only a part of an electoral division in Cornwall. Of course, it may be truly said that many boroughs in the days of Edward I. were small places, but still it is something for a town to claim having had two Members of Parliament nearly 600 years ago - at least it is not exactly a brand-new place.
The claims, then, of Truro to be regarded as an old town are
(1) that it had Parliamentary representation 600 years ago.
(2) That it has had a Charter-nearly 700 years ago.
(3) That it was incorporated 750 years ago, i.e., in 1130 (as is believed to have been the case), and certainly was a free borough about A.D. 1140.
(4) That it is mentioned in a Government document just 800 years ago.
It is a curious coincidence that the year of the consecration ot Truro Cathedral is the octocen-tenary of the first authentic mention of Truro by the English Government in the Domesday Book. The dedication of the cathedral and the octocentenary of the town will coincide. (See Note B.)
There were two monastic houses in Truro (i) the Dominican friary and chapel on the west side of the town. (2) The nunnery of the nuns of St. Clare in the central part of the town.
I think it probable (though, I own, not capable of direct proof) that, like Penzance and Marazion, Truro was originally a chapelry, the parish church being situated on the hill, i.e., Kenwyn, for in 1259 Bishop Bronescombe, of Exeter, dedicated the capella S. Maria de Truru. This chapel must have been cf some importance or been enlarged, for Bishop Grandison in 1328 dedicated the high altar of "Truru "—an altar probably near, but a little to the south of, the altar in the new cathedral, i.e., supposing that St. Mary of Truro was on the same site as the modern St. Mary's Church. This chapel, and afterwards church, of St. Mary's, with the Dominican and Clare monastic chapels, was not the only religious provision of medieval fruro. In I420 Bishop Lacy licensed St. George's Chapel lately erected, in the parish of St. Marys Truro.
Thus there were four churches in mediaeval Truro :-
1. St. Mary's.
2. St. Dominic's.
3. St. Clare's.
4. St. George's (possibly a chapelry of St. Mary's).
CHAPTER VIII. - MONASTERIES OF OLD CORNWALL.
THE monastic life of old Cornwall is an important feature in the religious life of the county alike in the Brito-Celtic and in the Anglo-Saxon and in the Mediaeval periods of Cornish history. In the first of these it probably represented centres of Christian life in the midst of semi or total heathenism. The monastic preceded the parochial system in Britain. Under the Anglo-Saxon bishops it would appear as if the Cornish episcopate was, as we have seen, essentially connected with the monasteries of St. Germans and Bodmin. In the later middle ages the monastic influence must have been great, although the parochial system was by that tune, under the Bishops of Exeter, pretty well worked out. Cornwall never, however, seems to_ have had any great abbeys, with their immense staffs of monks and lay brethren, like Glastonbury, or St. Augustine's, Canterbury, or other monasteries which were connected with our old English cathedrals.
The exact period of the foundation of St. Germans priory is uncertain ; probably it belonged to the Brito-Celtic age, and possibly even to the time of the great Germanus himself, who not unlikely was himself directly or indirectly the founder of the house. In that latter case it would be among the oldest conventual houses in England, having existed 1,000 years before its suppression by Henry VIII.
The church of St. Germans was originally collegiate, and in 836, as we have seen, King Athelstan made Conan Bishop of the Cornish, and his See, if fixed anywhere, was at St. Germans. At the period of the annexation of Cornwall finally to the See of Exeter, and of the suppression of the ancient diocese of the Cornish, i.e., St. Germans or Bodmin, Leofric appears to have changed the secular canons of St. Germans into regulars, another argument for a very earl}/ Brito-Celtic foundation, even if the tradition was not accurate. Canute the Great, or King Knut, however, is said to have bestowed great boons on St. Germans Church, and probably was a re-founder of it after its having been in a depressed state.
From the time of Bishop Bartholomew of Exeter it is certain that the monastery belonged to Augustine Canons (according to Dugdale).
There are five documents extant and published by Dugdale, belonging to this monastery, besides a quotation from Leland, i.e.:
1. Charter of the time of King Henry II.
2. Inquisition of the time of Edward III.
3. Donation of King Kimt or Canute the Great.... '
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