Penryn stocks at Falmouth’s Old Curiosity Shop

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Penryn stocks outside Falmouth’s Old Curiosity Shop

Two interesting characters pose for in Penryn Stocks outside Falmouth’s Old Curiosity shop. I feel sure the one on the right is my old mate Bill Crawford. You out there Bill?

I wrote about a Falmouth quay punt for sale a few days ago, and thinking of Falmouth reminded me of a National Maritime Museum Cornwall’s small exhibitions earlier this year.

It was held to celebrate the centenary of the death of John Burton, 19th century owner of the legendary Old Curiosity Shop in Falmouth, and a great local character. Burton claimed he could sell ‘anything from a monkey to a pulpit’, and his shop contained an amazingly diverse collection of objects reflecting the sailors and passengers who passed through Falmouth at the time. Click on the photo above and take a close look at the larger image, and you’ll see what I mean.

One of Burton’s great dealing successes was acquiring the Penryn borough stocks bearing the date 1673, bought from the Mayor of Penryn who had been instructed to sell some council possessions.

No sooner was the purchase complete than there was a howl of indignation from Penryn Council. A heated discussion followed, and to allay ill-feeling Burton wrote to the press to making the following offer: ‘If three of those grumbling Penryn Town Councillors will consent to be placed in the stocks outsid my show next Monday to get their photos taken in the stocks, I will present the said stocks to the Borough of Penryn to prevent further grumbling.’

The offer was not accepted, and the stocks were sold to an antique dealer, and today, the stocks can be seen at Penryn Museum.

A sailor for all seasons


Charles Stock is a national treasure to those of us who sail around the coasts of the UK, particularly those of us on a small budget.

Stock, you see, has sailed over 70,000 nautical miles in Shoal Waters, a little gaff-rigged 16-ft centreboarder he built in 1963 using a hull designed by Uffa Fox and hot-moulded by Fairey – and all without an engine.

Like the good farm manager he used to be, through it all he has kept a meticulous log of his voyaging and his costs, and written one of the best and most endearing manuals of small-boat cruising that I know: Sailing Just for Fun. This book is simply bursting with good advice and encouragement for owners of small sailing boats, and could not have been written with more authority. From the first page you know that Stock has been there and done it, and knows exactly what he’s talking about – 70,000 nautical miles in a small boat like Shoal Waters adds up to more days sailing than most people could pack into several lifetimes.

It probably goes without saying that in his home waters on the Essex coast he long ago became a legend for sailing almost all year round, often in conditions that send other, much larger boats scurrying home.

For Charles Stock’s website:


Shoal Waters