The Friends of Glasney College was formed in 1987 on account of the general apparent unawareness of the important role of this medieval college at Penryn in Cornish history and the lack of knowledge about its location.
We soon got together a fair number of members, both from the locality and further afield. One of our first actions was to erect a stone with a plaque on it to mark the site, presumed to be in the recreation ground at Penryn.
Nearby was a small section of wall believed to have been part of its church. In the following years we held meetings, visited churches and other sites which we believed had connections with the college, and had annual gatherings at Penryn Town Hall where speakers gave talks on various aspects of its history.
In 1988, my book on the history of the college was published by Tabb House of Padstow. By the end of the 20th century we felt we had done much to publicise the history of the college in the area and then began to plan for our next objective, an excavation in the recreation ground to determine the exact location of the college church.
We obtained charitable status for the Friends and after a lot of effort publicising the project and letter writing, we raised £5,000 for this task, with sizeable donations from Falmouth College of Art, the Cornish Gorseth, the Institute of Cornish Studies, Penryn Town Council and other organisations and individuals.
It was matched by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the excavation was carried out in 2005. The location of some pillars and bases of walls adjoining the aisle of the church was revealed and the remains linked up well with the surviving portion of wall. After all the expenses of the work were settled we had about £2,000 left for other tasks. This year we have restored the surviving portion of the church wall.
The society has now given up charitable status and has little funds remaining. We feel, however, that we have done well to achieve our objectives and plan to continue in existence as a friendly local group, keeping a watchful eye on the remains at the site, publicising its interesting history and seizing any future opportunity to further our initial objectives.
We have two functions a year now – a social evening at Penryn at Christmas and in March our AGM combined with a dinner. Membership details can be obtained from Alex Hooper, 21 Broad Street, Truro.
Dr James Whetter has been chairman of The Friends of Glasney College since its inception.