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Cornish: Lyskerrys
Stuart House, Barras Street, Liskeard - - 666023.jpg
Stuart House, Liskeard
Grid reference: SX251645
Location: 50°27’13"N, 4°27’54"W
Population: 8,656  (2001)
Post town: Liskeard
Postcode: PL14
Dialling code: 01579
Local Government
Council: Cornwall
South East Cornwall

Liskeard is an ancient stannary and market town in southern Cornwall. The name is usually pronounced with stress on the second syllable.

Liskeard is situated approximately 20 miles west of Plymouth, 14 miles west of the River Tamar and the border with Devon, and 12 miles east of Bodmin. The town is at the head of the Looe valley in the hundred of West Wivelshire and had a population of 8,656 at the 2001 census.

Bodmin Moor is to the north-west of the town.


The placename element Lis, along with ancient privileges accorded the town, indicates that the settlement was once a high status 'court'. A Norman castle was built here after the Conquest, which eventually fell into disuse in the later Middle Ages. By 1538 when visited by John Leland only a few insignificant remains were to be seen.[1] Sir Richard Carew writing in 1602 concurred:

Of later times, the Castle serued the Earle of Cornwall for one of his houses; but now, that later is worm-eaten out of date and vse. Coynages, Fayres, and markets, (as vitall spirits in a decayed bodie) keepe the inner partes of the towne aliue, while the ruyned skirtes accuse the iniurie of time, and the neglect of industrie.[2]

Liskeard was one of the 17 Antiqua maneria of the Duchy of Cornwall.[3] The market charter was granted by Richard, Earl of Cornwall (brother of Henry III) in 1240. Since then, it has been an important centre for agriculture. The seal of the borough of Liskeard was Ar. a fleur-de-lis and perched thereon and respecting each other two birds in chief two annulets and in flank two feathers.[4]

In 1294, Liskeard began to send two members to Parliament, but this was reduced to one by the 1832 Reform Act. Member of Parliament for the borough have included Edward Gibbon, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Isaac Foot.[5]

When Wilkie Collins wrote of his visit to the town in his Rambles beyond Railways he had a low opinion of it: "that abomination of desolation, a large agricultural country town".[6] The town went through a period of economic prosperity during the pre-20th century boom in tin mining, becoming a key centre in the industry as a location for a stannary and |coinage.

Present day

Liskeard is one of the few towns in Cornwall still to have a weekly livestock market. Market day is Thursday.

Local business largely comprises small independent establishments, many specialising in unique local products. Some shops retain original Victorian shopfronts and interiors. One of the most widely recognised product coming from Liskeard is the hand-made Cornish Blue by the Cornish Cheese Company.

Liskeard is a popular local town serving a wide local area of small villages and is one of the main gateways to Bodmin Moor. There is a range of restaurants, cafes and pubs in the town.

Liskeard puts on a pantomime in the last week of January with 2 nights free entry for the OAPs and holds a very popular carnival every June all arranged by the Liskeard Lions.[7] St Matthew's Fair was originally established by charter in 1266, the Liskeard Lions' Club re-established the fair in 1976 which runs in September/October.[8] Every December the town comes together for Liskeard Lights Up, Street entertainment and fun activities throughout the day and a lantern parade around the streets before the Christmas lights are switched on.

Every July Liskeard holds one of the biggest agricultural shows in the region. The Liskeard Show is always held on the second Saturday in July.[9]

Notable buildings

Liskeard Guildhall

The town boasts St Martin's, the second largest parish church in Cornwall [10] Built on the site of the former Norman church, the oldest parts of the current structure date back to the 15th century. Other places of worship include a Roman Catholic church and Methodist chapels.[11]

  • The Foresters Hall now houses the Tourist Information Office and Liskeard & District Museum. The Foresters still meet in the town at the Public Rooms in West Street. [12]
  • Stuart House (on The Parade) was used by Charles I as a lodging in 1644, when his forces were chasing the Parliamentarians.[13] Restored, it is now used as a community building for arts, heritage and community events
  • Luxstowe House (1831). Designed by George Wightwick for William Glencross.
  • The Guildhall was built in 1859 and has a prominent clock tower.
  • The Public Hall was constructed in 1890.
  • Webb's House (formerly Webb's Hotel) is a classic early Victorian market-town hotel featuring in royal visits, parliamentary declarations and much more but recently converted into flats and is the home of the local newspaper The Cornish Times.
  • Pencubitt House was built in 1897 for J. H. Blamey, a wealthy wool merchant. The house was designed by local architect John Sansom, responsible for many Liskeard homes of that period.[14]
  • The Liskeard Union Workhouse, architect John Foulston of Plymouth (later the Lamellion Hospital).

Leisure and sports

There is a leisure centre at Lux Park on the north side of the town: there is a bowling club on the southern side. The town has a Non-League football club Liskeard Athletic F.C. who play at Lux park. The town also has a rugby and cricket club who are both well-supported. The town has a King George V Playing Field. Live music and various theatrical events frequently take place in the unusual but acoustically good Carnglaze Caverns just to the north.

Leisure trails

There are three trails, each has its own blue commemorative plaque (these were unveiled by former town mayor, Sandra Preston).

  • Footpath from the town to the railway station: the path was built by Thomas Lang, who was a former mayor, in 1890.
  • Trail around the north of the town centre, including the Parade and the ornamental fountain. The fountain was given to the town by Michael Loam, whose father (also called Michael Loam) invented the Man engine (a device for lifting men up and down mineshafts, and used in many mines throughout Cornwall & West Devon).
  • Trail around the southern part of the town, commemorating Lt. Lapenotière, who brought back the news of the Battle of Trafalgar to Britain. For this Lt. Lapenotière was given a silver spice sprinkler by King George III. The sprinkler is still owned by the mayor's office, and is exhibited occasionally.


Liskeard has a sizeable Masonic presence with no fewer than seven Masonic bodies meeting at the Masonic Hall in The Parade,[15]

  • St Martin's Lodge No. 510 Date of Warrant, 5 March 1845, who currently meet on the 1st Tuesday in each month
  • St Martin's Royal Arch Chapter No. 510 Consecrated on the 1 August 1865, who currently meet on 3rd Monday in January, March, May, September & November
  • St Martin's Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 379 Consecrated on the 26 January 1888, who currently meet on the 2nd Tuesday in February, April, June, October & December
  • St Martin's Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 379 Consecrated 1 June 1933 who currently meet on 2nd Friday in January, March, September & November
  • Duchy Chapter of the Ancient & Accepted Rite of the Rose Croix of Heredom No. 289 Warranted on the 10 December 1931, who currently meet on the 4th Thursday in January, April, September & November
  • Duchy Conclave of the Order of the Secret Monitor No. 260 Consecrated on the 8 April 1975, who currently meet on 3rd Friday in February, June & October
  • St Martin's Chapel No.27 of the Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon, which meets on the 3rd Friday in June, and the 2nd Friday in February & October

Outside links


  1. Oman, Sir Charles (1926) Castles; "Cornwall and its castles", p. 109. London: Great Western Railway
  3. Hatcher, John (1970) Rural Economy and Society in the Duchy of Cornwall 1300-1500. Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-08550-0
  4. Pascoe, W. H. (1979). A Cornish Armory. Padstow, Cornwall: Lodenek Press. p. 133. ISBN 0-902899-76-7. 
  5. Deacon, Bernard W. (1989). Liskeard and Its People. ISBN 0-9515355-0-1. 
  6. Book Time; no. 58 (May 2011), p. 4
  7. "Liskeard Lions". Liskeard Lions. Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  8. "Fair keeps ancient tradition running". This is Cornwall. October 6, 2010. 
  9. Liskeard Show
  10. Pevsner, N. (1951). The Buildings of England: Cornwall. Harmondsworth: Penguin, p. 103
  11. "Liskeard Churches". Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  12. Fisk, Audrey (1997) The Ancient Order of Foresters in Cornwall Southampton: Foresters Heritage Trust
  13. Liskeard & District Museum
  14. Pencubitt House History
  15. Province of Cornwall (2012)Cornwall Masonic Year Book 2012/13