St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
A3078, Castle Drive
St Mawes Castle is set in a commanding position overlooking the entrance to Falmouth Harbour. It is a Tudor Coastal fortification designed with cannon in mind, rather than a true castle. It's keep is a three-storey circular arrangement, atop of which is placed a small watch-tower. To the keep is attached three semi-circular artillery bastions, one to each side and one forward. The castle was surrounded by a deep ditch cut out from the rock, with a fixed stone bridge connecting a seperate guard-house.
There is limited parking near the castle with a steep path down towards the castle, with fabulous views across the water and across to Pendennis Castle.
~ History ~
1538 ~ Following repeated earlier invasions of France by King Henry VIII of England, France and Spain become allies. King Henry VIII divorce from his first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragorn being the reason why King Charles V of Spain had decided to ally himself with France. Crucially later in the same year Pope Paul III excommunicates King Henry VIII for a second time.
In response King Henry VIII gives orders that the Royal Navy is expanded in order to counter this joint threat from France and Spain.
1540 ~ King Henry VIII gives orders for the building of coastal fortications along the southern coast of England as the threat of invasion increases.
1547 ~ The building of St Mawes Castle and its larger sister castle Pendennis, across the entrance to the deep-water Falmouth harbour, are completed. Michael Vyvyan is appointed its governor.
1561 ~ Michael is succeeded by his son Hannibal as governor.
1599 ~ The castle is recorded of having a garrison of 100 men.
1603 ~ Sir Francis Vyvyan is appointed governor of St Mawes.
1632 ~ St Francis is placed on trial by the Star Chamber for 'practising a variety of deceptions'.
1646 ~ Parliamentary forces arrive at St Mawes Castle which has been garrisoned for King Charles I. The castle's governor surrenders without a fight once he realises that the Parliamentarians have cannon placed on higher ground overlooking the castle, which has its own cannon's pointing out across the Falmouth harbour, unable to protect itself from attack inland, and so plays no part in the English Cival War.
1849 ~ The position of Governor is abolished, but a garrison remains at the castle for the next seventy one years, when it becomes an ancient monument in state care.
1939-46 ~ Threat of invasion by German forces see's St Mawes once more return to military service until the end of the Second World War.