Penzance is the most westwardly major town in Cornwall. It located and sheltered in Mounts Bay, which over looks the English Channel.
Although the town is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is thought to have existed as a small village under the ownership of Alward as part of the Manor of Alwarton. This was given to Robert, Count of Mortain, a half-brother of William the Conqueror.
The first mention of the name Pensans is in the Assize Roll of 1284. Penzance, which means holy headland in the Cornish language, refers to the location of a chapel now called St. Anthony's. It is claimed to have stood for over a thousand years, on the headland to the west of what became Penzance Harbour.
The town was granted many royal charters from 15th Century onwards. The include the 1404 charter from King Henry IV, which granted the town a royal market and the 1512 charter from Henry VIII, granting the right to charge harbour fees.
During the English Civil War, Penzance was sacked by the Parliamentarian forces of Sir Thomas Fairfax, apparently for the kindness shown to Lord Goring and Lord Hopton's troops during the conflict.