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Castles of Cornwall, England

Castles of Cornwall, England

pictured right: St. Mawes Castle, Cornwall

See Historic Buildings of Britain and Ireland - Main Page

See also Historic Buildings of Cornwall Project

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If you have information about any of the Buildings mentioned below please share it here. If you have ancestors linked to any of the places please add them to the project.

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  • Carn Brea Castle Carnbrea; Carnbre; Karnbre Pele Tower masonry ruins/remnants
  • Ince Castle in on a peninsula by the River Lynher, from which comes the name, Ince being a form of Cornish "enys"=island. The first house may have been built by the Courtenays in the late 14th century. It later came into the possession of the Killigrews who remodelled the house entirely. Henry Killigrew, the Royalist MP for West Looe, who modified the first house in about 1642, kept four wives, one in each tower, each unknown to the others, according to tradition.[1] From the 1840s, the tenants farming the land were all from the same family. Richard Pryn (1774 to 1846) owned and farmed Tredown close to Ince and in 1841 (according to the census) was also farming Ince. His son, Richard Pryn (1822 to 1858) was unmarried and farmed Ince with his unmarried sister Anne (1817 to 1889) from 1846 to 1858. The property was known as Ince Barton and was 90 acres (360,000 m2) at this time. After Richard's death from drowning, his sister Anne was joined by another unmarried sister Mary Ann (1828 to 1910). After Anne's death in 1889, the tenancy passed to her great nephew, Hannibal Steed (1856 to ?) whose descendants continued to farm Ince until the early 20th century (1910 or later). The owner from 1922 to 1937 was Mr H. R. Somerset, whose yacht was a winner of the Fastnet Race and was kept in the boathouse at Ince Castle. In 1960 the house was bought by Patricia, Viscountess Boyd, (daughter of Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh), wife of the former Colonial Secretary, Alan Lennox-Boyd, 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton. About this time, the lower floor French windows were installed to bring more light into the house and the service wing was extended. A disastrous fire in 1988 was followed by rebuilding of the roof and a second kitchen was added. The present owners, Simon Lennox-Boyd, 2nd Viscount Boyd of Merton and his wife, Alice, moved in in 1994.
  • Launceston Castle
  • Liskeard castle Possible castle mentioned by William Worcs. Leland writes 'There was a Castel on an Hiile in the Toun side by North from St. Martin. It is now all in Ruine, Fragments and Peaces of waulles yet stond... The Castell was the Erles of Cornwall. It is now used somtym for a pound for Cattell.' PastScape record states 'Site of a medieval castle or fortified manor built originally in 1337 and rebuilt in 1361. The site is now a park and playground and there are no extant remains.' The king's surveys report the wall surrounding the manor house as ruinous in 1337, repairs were made in 1341-2 and 1361 (The little hall was rebuilt, not the castle!). Higham put this in his list of castles built prior to 1300. At Liskeard was a castle or fortified manor-house belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1337, when extensive repairs were needed, it was described as 'a certain manor-house surrounded by a wall'. Within the wall were a hall and chambers, adjoining cellars, a chapel and a chamber over the gateway. The hall was rebuilt in 1361, but after repairs in the reign of Richard II the buildings were totally neglected, and by Leland's time were 'al in ruine', being used as a cattle pound. Mackenzie notes a few remains still standing next to a field called 'Castle Park'.
  • Pendennis Castle
  • Pengersick Castle is a fortified manor house near Praa Sands which is a Grade II* listed building. The house is of late medieval date and features one of the few towers of its type preserved in Britain.[7] John Milliton of Pengersick Castle became High Sheriff of Cornwall and Pengersick Castle was also improved around 1530 as a fortified manor house after the wreck of a valuable Portuguese ship.[8] Rumours of ghosts and devil-worship[9] surround the castle.[10] The ghost of John Milliton is said to haunt the castle. Legend says that he attempted to poison his wife, but she switched goblets with him and the Devil was all too happy to take them both to hell.[11] Historical research has proven some of these stories to be false: no monks were murdered there (although one was assaulted by Henry Pengersick), the supposed plague pits featured in the television programme Most Haunted were located in another part of the castle,[12] and the Black Dog is reported to be a myth created by 19th century smugglers to frighten people away.[12] Additionally, Sir John Milliton died in 1570, and his wife in 1579.
  • Restormel Castle
  • St Catherines Castle was built as a consequence of the international tensions between England, France and the Holy Roman Empire in the final years of the reign of King Henry VIII. Traditionally the Crown had left coastal defences to the local lords and communities, only taking a modest role in building and maintaining fortifications, and while France and the Empire remained in conflict with one another, maritime raids were common but an actual invasion of England seemed unlikely.[1] Modest defences, based around simple blockhouses and towers, existed in the south-west and along the Sussex coast, with a few more impressive works in the north of England, but in general the fortifications were very limited in scale.[2] In 1533, Henry broke with Pope Paul III in order to annul his long-standing marriage to Catherine of Aragon and remarry.[3] Catherine was the aunt of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, and he took the annulment as a personal insult.[4] This resulted in France and the Empire declaring an alliance against Henry in 1538, and the Pope encouraging the two countries to attack England.[5] An invasion of England now appeared certain and Henry began to improve his coastal defences.[6] In response to this situation, a small, D-shaped stone fortification was built to protect Fowey Harbour in Cornwall, then an important centre for trade.[7] The harbour was reached through the Fowey estuary, which the local town had protected in the previous century with two blockhouses positioned along the river's edge—the Fowey and Polruan blockhouses—and a boom chain strung between them.[7] The new castle replaced these and was located high on the headland overlooking the entrance to the estuary itself, St Catherine's Point, from which it took its name.[8] Construction work began on the castle at some point between 1538 and 1540, under the direction of a member of the local Cornish gentry, Thomas Treffry.[9] By 1540, a map of the local defences described the castle as only "half-made"; when the antiquarian John Leland visited what he described as a blockhouse in 1542, he was hosted by Treffry, and afterwards recorded that the construction had been funded partly by Treffry and partly by the local town.
  • St Mawes Castle Michael Vvyan, a member of the local gentry, was appointed as the first captain of St Mawes and the surrounding land in 1544, and was followed by Hannibal Vyvyan in 1561.[18] On Vyvyan's death in 1603, his son, Sir Francis Vyvyan, became captain.[19] The captains of St Mawes frequently argued with those of Pendennis Castle and in 1630 a legal dispute broke out about the rights to search and detain incoming shipping: both castles argued that they had a traditional right to do so.[20] The Admiralty issued a compromise, proposing that the castles share the incoming traffic.[21] Sir Francis was dismissed from office in 1632, accused of "practising a variety of deceptions" at St Mawes, including falsely claiming wages for non-existent members of the garrison, and was replaced by first Sir Robert Le Grys and then Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel and Surrey. During the Civil War war turned in favour of the Parliamentarians and, by March 1646, Thomas Fairfax had entered Cornwall with a substantial army. The captain of the castle, Major Hannibal Bonithon, was invited by Colonel John Arundell to retreat to the stronger fortress of Pendennis, but Bonithon and his men surrendered immediately without putting up resistance.[30] This decision has been put down to a result of war-weariness, the large numbers of Parliamentary troops facing them and the generous surrender terms on offer, although the 19th-century historian Samuel Oliver also suspected that Bonithon might have had Parliamentarian sympathies.[30] 160 small arms and 13 artillery pieces were captured: the castle's guns were removed and redeployed in the siege of Pendennis, which fell that August. The castle was placed on a "care and maintenance" footing, with a skeleton garrison.[32] Parliament appointed George Kekewich as the new captain and he probably remained in post until the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660, when Sir Richard Vyvyan, Sir Francis's son, took over command.[33] Richard inherited a garrison of 13 men, which he considered insufficient.[34] Richard's son, Sir Vyel Vyvyan, became captain in turn on his father's death, but he had no heirs and separated the castle's lands from the captaincy, selling them to John Granville, the Earl of Bath. During the 19th century, Falmouth Harbour became one of the most important ports in England, attracting much of the transatlantic shipping trade.[42] The Tudor office of the captaincy was abolished in 1849, with the death of the final incumbent, Sir George Nugent, and the command of the garrison became a regular military appointment.[43] In the early 1850s, fears of a conflict with France led to a review of the state of the harbour's defences.[41] The development of ironclad warships equipped with rifled guns meant that St Mawes required a comprehensive overhaul.
  • St Michaels Mount
  • Tintagel Castle
  • Tregoney Castle built by King John when he was Earl of Cornwall, in opposition to his elder brother, King Richard I, who was overseas fighting with the crusades. This castle was situated just below where the attractive 17th century almshouses now stand, but no trace of the castle survives today.
  • Trematon Castle was established by Robert, Count of Mortain soon after the Norman Conquest. From the Conquest until 1270, the rights for the ferry from Saltash Passage on the Plymouth side of the River Tamar to Saltash belonged to the Valletort family. When Roger de Valletort sold Trematon Castle and manor to Richard Earl of Cornwall, the rent was paid to the Earl's bailiff. In the thirteenth century, this amounted to nearly seven pounds sterling. The Castle has remained the property of the Earls and Dukes of Cornwall without interruption since 1270, when Earl Richard bought it for £300. When Sir Francis Drake returned from his circumnavigation voyage in 1580, he came into harbour in Plymouth, then slipped out to anchor behind St Nicholas Island until word came from Queen Elizabeth's Court for the treasures he had gathered to be stored in Trematon Castle.[3] The horde consisted of gold, silver, and precious stones, mainly emeralds, the result of piracy from Spanish ships along the west coast of South America. Before being moved for storage in the Tower of London, the treasure was temporarily stored in the Golden Hinde. In 1961 the Duchy of Cornwall advertised the Castle to be let on a full repairing lease for 21 years, with breaks, at a rent of £250 a year.[1] It subsequently became the home in Cornwall of Hugh Foot, Lord Caradon, and his son Paul Foot, a campaigning journalist, spent some of his youth there. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Castle on 25 July 1962 accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Sir Edward Bolitho, before driving to Fowey and embarking in the royal yacht Britannia.
  • Upton Castle, Lewannick Timber Castle , Fortified Manor House masonry ruins/remnants