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28 October 2014

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You are in: Cornwall > Coast > Anger at Bells Court

The now quiet lane leading up to Bells Court

Anger at Bells Court

It may be a quiet square off the main street in Falmouth's town centre. But early in the 19th Century it was a different scene in Bells Court.

As you stand at the bottom of the hill looking up to Bells Court it's hard to believe the small lane was once the scene of a major revolt.

Bells Court sign

Take a walk up Bells Court

There was mutiny in the air in 1810, and if you were standing on the same spot then you would have been surrounded by angry men.

The protestors were all sailors on the famous packet ships. One of the customs men had taken possession of goods which the sailors believed were one of the perks of the job.

During the angry atmosphere 13 of the packet ships' crew were press-ganged (forced into the Navy) so it was an explosive situation.

The court-yard at the top of the lane was once the site of the Packet Agent’s Office.

It was from the steps of this office in 1810 that Christopher Saverland read the Riot Act to the Packet crews who had mutinied when Customs Officers confiscated the private goods of the crew members which were intended for sale overseas and regarded by the crew as legitimate 'perks'.

Bells Court today

Bells Court - all quiet now

The order stated..."(The men should) disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business, upons the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumultuous and riotous assemblies. God Save The King."

While this was being said by Christopher Saverland there was a glint of metal behind him in the sunshine - the end of fixed bayonets. The local militia have come down to enforce the Act.

The crowd eventually dispersed...For nearly 200 years all has been quiet in Bells Court.

The online walk has touched on a lot of Falmouth's history, but by no means all of it. Return to our Coast Index page and visit our 'Other Places of interest' page for more fascinating facts about the town.

last updated: 04/03/2008 at 10:14
created: 13/07/2005

You are in: Cornwall > Coast > Anger at Bells Court

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