THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.
POLPERRO MUSEUM. Robert Mark, a Polperro smuggler, once owned this sword. The sword dates from 1789 and is on loan from the Royal Armouries. Mark was killed by a cannonball from a Revenue Cutter whilst discharging contraband cargo off Polperro in 1802. His descendants still reside at Polperro. The museum also has an interesting display of modern ways of smuggling.
Smuggling, as we understand it, started in the 1680s when a tax was imposed on salt - essential for preserving Cornish pilchards. Polperro's smuggling history was so bad that Revenue men were stationed there first. Locals refused to billet them so they had to stay on board their vessel. They are shown in an early photograph. Contraband goods came from Roscoff in Brittany and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Brandy, gin, salt and tea were smuggled into Cornwall over the next 150 years. They could be sold as far away as Bodmin (see Belling's clock).
Photo: Bernie Pettersen