This film is part of Free

Beating the Bounds in Penzance

Beating the bounds in Penzance with a traditional walk of the parish boundaries

Non-Fiction 1964 1 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


The tradition of beating the bounds in Penzance is where parishioners check the town’s boundary stones and halfpennies are thrown for the children at St John’s Hall. Young and old, including the Mayor are turned upside down and bumped on the stones. This tradition, dating back to before the Norman Conquest in some parts of the country, continues in Penzance until 1974 when the Borough Council ceases as an administrative entity.

The ceremony is revived in 2014 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Penzance by King James I in 1614. Four original bound-stones erected in 1687 in a half-mile radius from the Market Cross in Greenmarket are struck four times by four people during the ritual. Two of these original stones exist at Chyandour and St Clare. A third bound-stone was replaced at Alverton as was the fourth at Wherrytown after its loss in the storm of March 1962. Seven new bound-stones were erected around the borough in 1934 and this film is the thirtieth anniversary celebration.