The largest town in Cornwall is none other than St. Austell and, though it isn't the county seat, it is easily among the most culturally important cities in all of England. St. Austell is unique in that it has a rich and diverse religious history even though its largest claim to fame is in the dubious practice of mining.
Before mining came into prominence, however, the city was devoted to the church and the main chapel that stands in St. Austell today dates back to the 1400s. Even further back than that, within St. Austell's walls, stood a church that was built by the Normans, probably in the 11th century. The ruins of this church can still be seen by anybody who visits St. Austell. Traditional Catholicism wasn't the only religion practiced in St. Austell however. Near Truro Road, in Tregongeeves, lies a Quaker cemetery that has been visited by English Quakers for centuries. Quakers still frequent St. Austell and several houses host gatherings throughout the city, making St. Austell one of the foremost homes for Quakers on the east side of the Atlantic Ocean.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, St. Austell is home to a rather sizable population of Freemasons. South Street is home to the highly esteemed Masonic Hall and the area teems with masons entering and leaving the many craft lodges including the Peace and Harmony 496 and the St. Denys 8250. This has caused some strife within St. Austell in the past, as Freemasons and religious denominations clashed many times throughout the years, but these days the many sects and belief systems that permeate St. Austell have found a peaceful harmony as they interweave to create a singular citywide entity of tolerance and unity. This unity is expressed best, perhaps, in the much lauded St. Austell Brewery. This citywide source of pride has been manufacturing beer for over one hundred and fifty years and has been one of the most popular cask ale suppliers in England ever since the company's inception. The famed St. Austell Tribute is the mascot beer for the brewery and it is among the most popular ales in all of England.
St. Austell is a city steeped in the past and it has managed to hold on to its traditions all while adjusting nicely to the changing world. Though mining is still a large business in the city, shops, restaurants, and commerce have helped the city maintain a steady finger on the pulse of the 21st century and the railways and public transportation in St. Austell is among the best in Europe. If more cities around the world could meld the changing future with the best aspects of the past like St. Austell has done, our planet would be a much better place to live in.