1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tintagel

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TINTAGEL, or Trevena, a village in the Launceston parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, on the north coast, 4½ m. from Camelford. Pop. (1901), 868. It stands on a bare upland, close to the sea; and below it is Tintagel Haven, or Porth, a small cove surrounded by cliffs of almost black slate. The scanty ruins of a castle are built partly on the mainland, partly on a rugged promontory spoken of as the Island, but united by a narrow peninsula to the shore. They have been celebrated as the birthplace of King Arthur, or as the stronghold of King Mark, in a host of medieval romances, and in the poems of Tennyson and Swinburne. The Norman walls are so darkened and weathered that, from a little distance, they seem a part of the rock itself. Portions of a chapel remain, dating from the 13th century, and including a porch and a stone altar; while beside it are traces of a tomb hewn out of the slate, and of some domestic building which had a staircase and a pointed arch above the door. The cruciform parish church of St Marcelliana stands on a high cliff, West of the castle. Although it has been restored, there remain traces of Saxon workmanship in the chancel, besides two Norman doorways, a font of the same period, a stone altar bearing five crosses and a fine 15th-century brass. In the churchyard the graves are buttressed, storms being frequent and violent on this unprotected coast. For a. time the church belonged to Fontevrault Abbey in Normandy; but it was made over by Edward IV. to the collegiate church of Windsor. A 9th-century rood stone stands in the village. Portions of the vicarage date from the 14th century, and in its garden there is a stone dovecote of great age. A little slate is quarried, being taken from the rocks below the church, and exported in the small vessels which can visit Tintagel Haven in calm weather. The magnificence of the coast 'has inspired more than one famous painting.

Tintagel (Tintajol, Dundagel) is a parish a portion of which appears in the Domesday Survey as Bossiney (Botcinnu). The latter was held in the time of the Confessor by a thegn of St Petrock and at the time of the survey by Robert, count of Mortain, of the same saint. The castle probably existed in pre-Saxon times. Under the Norman earls of Cornwall this was rebuilt, embattled and furnished with munitions of war. Its officers included a constable and a chaplain. It was in a ruinous condition in Leland's time (c. 1540). Queen Elizabeth abolished the office of constable. In the parish of Tintagel is the hamlet of Bossiney which under the name of Tintagel received a charter (undated) from Richard king of the Romans, granting freedom to the borough and to the burgesses freedom from pontage and stallage throughout Cornwall, a market on Wednesdays and a three days' fair at Michaelmas. This charter was. confirmed in 1386. In 1333 the burgesses, those who held tenements within the borough, numbered loo. The borough, which apparently owed its existence to the castle, shared its fortunes. Leland calls attention to the decay of a great number of houses. Its charter was surrendered to Charles II. and a new one obtained from his brother in 1685. Under the latter a mayor, recorder, six common councillors, a coroner, six freemen and a common clerk were to constitute the corporation. For supplying vacancies in it the votes of those only who were members of it were required. Provision was made for the administration of the borough. Bossiney acquired the right of electing two members of parliament in 1553, the franchise being originally-vested in the freeholders within the borough. By the middle of the 18th century the franchise had become restricted to the freemen or burgesses. In 1784 the vicar of Tintagel, as mayor and only qualified elector, enjoyed the probably unique privilege of returning two members to the House of Commons. In 1832 there were ten resident legal voters within the borough and nine out-voters. The Reform Act transferred their votes to the county. There is now no market, and the only fair is held on the 21st of October.

See Victoria County History: Cornwall; Sir J. Maclean, History of Trigg Minor.