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St Rumon’s Gardens- Redruth

St Rumon's Gardens

Information sourced and written by esdale77  / E. Dale.
To learn more about St Rumon’s Gardens and other Cornish gems, visit The Cornish Bird.
Written in
February 2022.

A History

1400 s

St. Rumon’s Gardens in Redruth have a rich history spanning over 600 years, evolving from a few buildings and a ford to what is now the intersection of Fore Street and Penryn Street. Reverend Nicholas Oby obtained a license to build the chapel on September 14th, 1400. It likely served both the local community and pilgrims traveling to St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Saint Rumon, born around AD 515, was a missionary from Brittany. He founded a hermitage near Falmouth in the 5th or 6th century, though its exact location remains uncertain. His influence is also seen in other Cornish place names like Ruan Lanihorne, Ruan Major, and Ruan Minor.

1600 s

By the late 1600s, St. Rumon’s Chapel had fallen into disrepair, losing its roof, and by around 1700, people completely abandoned it. The congregation moved to St. Euny Church nearby. Over the years, the site deteriorated, with reports of “a pile of buildings” on it in the early 1800s. In the mid-19th century, they decided to clear the ruins and build a new hall, called St. Rumon’s Hall. Construction began in 1859, and the current façade dates back to that time.

1850 s

In October 1867, The Cornish Telegraph reported that builders used some stones from the original medieval chapel for the foundations of the new hall. They envisioned this hall as a versatile space for exhibitions and entertainment, and it quickly fulfilled its purpose. It functioned as a library and cultural centre, hosting various events such as lectures, concerts, balls, and auctions, according to newspapers from that time.

1900 s

By 1908, the Druid’s Hall transformed into a cinema, likely using its spacious second-floor theatre or ballroom. It boasted 450 seats, with 331 in the stalls and 119 in the balcony, and a 7.5m (23ft) wide proscenium. Initially managed by Messrs. Cocks and Baker, it was named Picturedrome in 1910. Mr. H. Burrow took over in 1912, succeeded by William Henry Jenkin in 1917. After Jenkin’s death in 1926, his wife Clara ran the cinema until September 1935, when Gwyther Eastlake Prance acquired it and renamed it the Gem Cinema.

The Fire

In 1981, brothers David and Thomas Dunstan purchased a rundown building and invested their life savings to transform it into the Zodiac Bingo Hall. On January 21, 1984, some time after 11 pm a fire broke out, engulfing St. Rumon’s. Over fifty firefighters tried to save the hall, but it was gutted by morning, causing an estimated £250,000 in damages. The Dunstan brothers initially hoped to rebuild and renewed their gaming license in March. However, by September 1984, they put the building up for sale because reconstructing it was too expensive, as they confirmed to the West Briton.

St Rumon’s Gardens Present

After the hall was destroyed, plans to rebuild it were scrapped because the walls were wobbly. They even had to remove the top floors to prevent them from falling down! Then, in 1985, the Kerrier Council bought the site. For years, St. Rumon’s Hall just sat there, looking pretty ugly. But in 1998, the council came up with the idea: ‘Millennium Gardens’! They spent around £65,000 making it happen. Now, these quirky gardens are open to everyone, and they even brought back the old name.

Today, St. Rumon’s Gardens is a peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of Redruth’s busy streets. You can sit on park benches, watch performances on a small stage, and imagine the old days when it was a theatre, all the while, still spot bits of the medieval chapel here and there, reminding us of the past.

If you would like to know some more fascinating stories about Redruth and Cornwall, visit The Cornish Bird Blog
Discover move exciting areas of Redruth on of Discover Page, or the other Parks, Gardens and Green Spaces.
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