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  • Writer's picturePlough to Plate

Furniss Biscuits; "Over 136 Years in the Baking"

Here at Westcountry, we support the legacy of this local historic business by making their range of products available to businesses from guest houses to shops. The wonderful biscuits still made to the traditional recipes are renowned across the nation.

Indulgence has never tasted so good with Furniss of Cornwall's completely sugar free biscuits; choose from the fragrant, punchy Black Pepper or Sweet Oat.

Both are deliciously moreish and perfect accompaniments to your favourite cheese or dips.

Continue reading to find out why this business holds such a warm and esteemed place in our local folklore.

In 1886, John Cooper Furniss opened his first teashop in the centre of Truro, spending his nights baking his gingerbread and celebrated Fairings ready for serving the following day. His passion for only using the best locally sourced ingredients quickly secured the reputation of Furniss Tea Shop for serving the best biscuits in town. Orders poured in from surrounding areas and within a decade Furniss biscuit boxes with their distinctive logos were a standard feature in grocers and shops across Cornwall.

Furniss of Cornwall became the only company in the world licensed to make the Traditional Cornish Fairing.

John Furniss sadly died at the young age of 55 years under mysterious circumstances according to this newspaper report at the time


Strange Sudden Death at Truro

On Tuesday night Mr. Cooper Furniss, a well-known tradesman of Truro died suddenly under peculiar circumstances. Mr. Furniss, who resided in Lemon Street, had been ailing for a considerable time and had been under the care of Dr Salmon. About 9 O’clock on Tuesday evening, he fancied some oysters and a few were obtained for him. The first he partook of was a large one and he apparently suffered from a choking sensation but succeeded in passing the oyster. He failed to recover, however, and died almost immediately. On the first symptoms a medical man was sent for.  Dr King happened to be passing at the time and though he was immediately in attendance his services were of no avail. Mr. Furniss was 55 years of age and leaves a widow and family of four all grown up. He was a much-respected citizen and a generous donor to all deserving local objects.”


John Cooper Furniss was indeed a generous donor as these accounts of his charitable nature shows:

“Mr Furniss was a fair employer and a philanthropist. As well as donating significant sums to build Truro Cathedral, he discreetly provided a royalty on every tin of Tom Trot’s Humbugs to the victim, of a site accident when Mr Glanville lost both legs as a ‘bosuns chair’ lift ran away from the western towers and crashed. Mr Furniss died towards the end of the nineteenth century but left both an enduring product and a good business behind”.

(source: Truro City Council)

The man who lost his legs was a Mr Richard Glanville and his picture appears on the tin.


“On July 8th 1908 a serious accident took place, the only one occurring during the building work. A steam lift had been raised to the top of one of the western towers to take the construction workers to the bottom after their morning shift, but the safety device had not been applied correctly. As the men stepped into the cage their weight caused it to plummet 70 feet to the ground with six men inside. Five escaped with less severe injuries, but 51-year-old Richard Granville sustained damage to both legs which had to be amputated. He was given artificial limbs but was unable to work again and received £300 in compensation. He also received assistance, and also achieved a degree of fame, from a local businessman, John Cooper Furniss, and lived for another 25 years.”


John Cooper Furniss' legacy still continues to this day (source: Truro City Council)

John Cooper Furniss left a legacy of Furniss shares (later converted to Charibonds) to a small municipal charity – known in Truro as ‘Furniss Coal’. The Trustee of the Fund is Truro City Council and it annually gives coal to disadvantaged households within the parish of Truro. Each November advertisements appear advising people to apply to a number of councillor ‘agents’, each assigned to a number of streets. They issue ‘Furniss Tickets’ at their discretion. Whilst demand for coal as a domestic fuel is rapidly reducing, current recipients include both elderly and younger who rely on coal for heat.”


“In the meantime, the Furniss Coal Charity quietly celebrates the industry, philanthropy and common sense of John Cooper Furniss and operates each year.”

Contact your local depot for more information or browse our range online

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