Helston market town or ‘Helly’ is a gateway to the magical Lizard Peninsula in South Cornwall. The town is rich in stannary and tin mining history. It was once a powerful stannary centre with its own coinage hall. Nearby Poldark Tin Mine and Gardens in the Wendron Valley is the site where the first recorded Tin Stamps in the Duchy were recorded in 1493. Helston town trail starts on the steps of the old Guildhall, and guides you around impressive heritage buildings including the 16th century town house of the Godolphin family which is now the Angel Hotel, the 15th century Blue Anchor Inn and the great granite Godolphin Hall with mock Tudor Gothic entrance.
Find out more about Helston’s mining and stannary past in the Helston Museum within a former Market House and Drill Hall. Various artefacts thrown up from shipwrecks are also inside along with quirky displays on Helston’s famous ‘Furry Dance’ or ‘Flora Dance’ held annually in early May. The unique geology of the Lizard Peninsula is also explored here. The museum holds an extensive mineral collection as well as ancient archaeological finds from the Lizard ranging from Neolithic tools to Bronze Age pottery and finds from a Roman villa. A variety of accommodation is available in the Lizard’s largest town including hotels, family friendly holiday parks, B&Bs and self-catering cottages and apartments. Popular local attractions include Flambards Theme Park and a tour of the Elizabethan Godolphin House and grounds.
Flambards Theme Park
Helston is home to Cornwall’s biggest and best family theme park. Flambards first opened as an Aircraft Park and Aviation Museum in 1976. In the early days it displayed aircraft used in the very popular TV series ‘Flambards’, which is where it derives its name. Today the family attraction is one of Cornwall’s most visited, and includes gentle rides and indoor soft play areas for younger children, thrill rides including a roller coaster and drop ride for the adventurous, firework displays, events, shows and award-winning exhibitions. Indoor exhibits include a Victorian village created from real cobble streets, shops and a school salvaged and brought to the attraction. Visitors can experience Britain in the Blitz, an interactive aviation exhibition, as well as a hands-on science museum and award-winning landscaped gardens.
Cornish Seal Sanctuary
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek near Helston is the perfect family day out. The centre is Europe’s leading seal rescue centre spread across 42 acres of beautiful scenery here in South Cornwall. Visitors have ample opportunity to get up close to seals and hear stories about their rescue. Other animals in residence include penguins, otters and sea lions. The attraction also features an interactive rockpool which children will adore, home to creatures like starfish and crabs. Talks, quizzes, seal feeding sessions and a Pirate Play area all form part of the visitor experience. The Seal Sanctuary, which is dog friendly, has wonderful views towards the Helford River, and within the grounds there is a cafe and woodland walks.
One of Cornwall’s most important heritage sites, Poldark Tin Mine and Gardens near Helston is an open air museum in a stunning rural location, within Cornwall’s UNESCO World Heritage Mining area. If you’re looking for a great introduction to Cornish mining heritage, you’ll find it here at Poldark with underground mine tour offering a fascinating insight into 18th and 19th century tin mines. The Wendron Mining District within which Poldark mine sits is one of Cornwall’s oldest mining areas – evidence of prehistoric tin production has been discovered in the Wendron Valley.