Zone 1 – 30 Years of Golowan

A series of 23 panels that chart midsummer revels in Penzance between St John’s Eve (24th June) and St Peter’s Eve (29th June). Starting with the earliest mention of the word “Goluan” in William Borlase’s 1754 book Observations on the Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall, it follows the colourful happenings at this time of year through 19th century newspaper accounts. They are all real stories as reported at the time. Up to the 1880s, Penzance held what were likely to be the most boisterous midsummer celebrations in the country. Bonfires, fireworks, dancing in the streets, accidents, crimes, fun fairs took place over the course of a week. It explores why the festivities died out, and touches upon the earlier 20th century midsummer bonfire revivals, ending with the panel “Golowan is back”, introducing the 1991 revival.

< Back to exhibition home

Now watch our feature film in Zone 2 by Barbara Santi


Download your own copy

If you would like to download and keep a copy of the exhibition panels, to read at your leisure, please do so. Please do NOT print or re-distribute the file for any purposes. Download now as a PDF file.