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Post Medieval 1540 to 1900

The Industrial and Defended Landscape

Between 1540 and 1900, the landscape of Cornwall went through extensive and accelerated change. The period began with religious upheaval with the dissolution of the monasteries during Henry VIII's reign and ended with the death of Queen Victoria. The period saw great change in religious practice, industrialisation and the  building and expansion of what became the largest Empire in history. This rapid change has left a variety of evidence across the county.

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Some of the most well known monuments from this period represent the effects of the Industrial Revolution in Cornwall, with improvements in technology allowing the development of deep mining by the end of the eighteenth century.The impact of industry on the landscape was large-scale and the speed of its decline has left a well-preserved relict mining landscape. Its legacy includes thousands of mine shafts, numerous engine houses and the widespread remains of tin and arsenic processing.

The effects of the Industrial Revolution also led to the development of the China Clay industry. This industry continues into the present day. Many of the features associated with this type of open-cast mining are characteristic of their areas, including the distinctive pyramidal dumps.This coincided with the growth of other quarrying industries such as slate and granite.

This increase in industrialisation also led to the development of subsidiary industry such as foundaries and explosive works. Much of their structural remains survive today.

Industrial harbours were constructed or expanded to cope with the growth in mineral output and coal requirements, many of which, such as Hayle or Fowey, are still in existence. Other infrastructure such as tramways and railways were then developed to connect the ports with the hearts of industry.

Settlements within the industrial areas saw massive expansion. The distinctive rows of miner's smallholdings and terraced housing became a common feature across these newly developed areas and can still be seen in areas such as Redruth and St Just in Penwith.

This period also saw significant change in religious practice. The Tudor and Elizabethan ages saw great religious upheaval with the dissolution of the monasteries and the introduction of the Protestant Church of England. The theme of change continued with the rise in non-conformism, which proved very popular with working populations. This included Methodism which saw a huge increase in popularity as industrialisation swept the county and many Methodist chapels survive in these areas, either remaining as places of worship or converted to other uses.

During the Tudor and Elizabethan periods, forts across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were being strengthened and new castles constructed to counter threats from overseas. Some of these saw service during the English Civil War. These changes in military technology can be seen in the changes at sites like Pendennis Castle or the Garrison on St. Mary's on the Isles of Scilly.

Eighteenth century enhancements designed to counter the threat from France include a series of redoubts built at Maker Heights and many new coastal batteries. This continued into the second half of the nineteenth century as further advances in technology and the resurgent threat from Napoleonic France led to the construction of additonal forts, such as the Palmerston Forts. These forts, built by Viscount Palmerston, defended the naval base of Plymouth. Development in military technologies and the history of Britain's naval presence can be observed in these structures, many of which survive and are available to visit across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.