Castles of South West Cornwall

During the summer months South West Cornwall is something of a mecca for those in search of sun, sand and surf. However, after one has spent just a small portion of time in the region, it’s unique history and a more diverse picture of the area begins to unfurl. The Cornish past is arguably best explored by visiting the large number of forts, ruins and stately homes which are open to the public. This article introduces some of the more unique and special castles in the region.

Pendennis Castle
Built by Henry VIII to protect Carrick Roads from the Spanish, Pendennis Castle at Falmouth was completed in 1545. The castle saw action during the Civil War of the 1600s and was armed once more during World War II but has since become a tourist attraction and is now under the ownership of English Heritage. The fort can be visited all year round and hosts a number of events throughout the summer. There are also fantastic walks on and around Pendennis Point, with Little Dennis right on the rocks.

Carn Brea Castle
The curious folly-like castle at Carn Brea, near Redruth, is one of a number of intriguing sights in this relatively small area including Bassett Monument and Cup and Saucer Rock. Carn Brea Castle was originally built as a chapel in 1379 but was later rebuilt by the Bassetts as a family retreat. Its unique design incorporates large uncut boulders at its base and seems to give the impression that the building has formed naturally from the land. Somewhat in-keeping with its unique design, the castle is privately-owned today, and operates as an acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant.

Pengersick Castle
Pengersick has been of local significance for around 5000 years, and in the 12th Century a family settled here and took their name from the area. The Tudor building at the site today dates from the 1500s and is notable for its dual tower and newel stairs. After the death of the last owner, the castle was given to English Heritage and a local conservation officer to ensure its ongoing preservation. The building is widely considered to be one of the most haunted in England and is a top location for ghost enthusiasts.

St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount is located just off the south coast around seven miles from Hayle. The castle is home to the St Auben family while the community of villagers who live around it work to sustain the mount as a self-contained parish. Today the castle is owned by the National Trust, but in the past it has acted as a fortress, stately home and even a priory – and offers an excellent insight into the history of the region. The castle is open to the public at specific times relating to the seasons, so it is sometimes necessary to book.