Vibrant and arty Penzance is the place to be
These days, Penzance is arty, alternative and really rather cool. The most westerly town in Britain, it's exactly 300 miles from London and at the very end of both the main railway line and the A30. But still this interesting coastal town manages to feel like the in place to be.
The town sits by the sea in the stunning Mount's Bay. Its centre has many beautiful Georgian townhouses, especially around Regent's Place and Chapel Street. For the town's most desirable period homes, househunters stay south of the main street on the seaward side. Here you can find stucco-fronted homes with high ceilings, period features and – this being subtropical West Cornwall – palm trees in the gardens.
Penzance has plenty of charming little streets, chockful of independent boutiques and shops, cafes and character. It also boasts the wonderful art deco Jubilee Bathing Pool, a renowned 1930s saltwater swimming pool right on the seafront.
The current conservation area forms most of the core of the town, as well as the harbour areas of nearby villages Newlyn and Mousehole. Both of these villages are sought-after by property buyers for their quaint fishermen's cottages, with chocolate-box Mousehole a shade more pricey than more down-to-earth Newlyn.
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Penzance was the birthplace of the renowned chemist Sir Humphry Davy, best known as the inventor of the Miner's Safety Lamp, or Davy lamp. One of the town's secondary schools is named after him. Other notable Penzance celebs include the actress Thandie Newton, who was born here, and Jean Shrimpton, famed locally as much for running the lovely Abbey Hotel as her role as 1960s supermodel.
Not all of Penzance is gorgeous, however. The houses north of the main street are definitely less lovely than those to the south. The once-rural approach from the East has been largely concreted over in a frenzy of main roads and supermarkets. But even so, Penzance is blessed with some impressive architecture and interesting shops. Add in the unspoilt countryside and beaches nearby, and you've got a really rather wonderful place to live.