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near St Anthony, Cornwall, England
St Mawes Castle is situated in the small fishing village of the same name on a hillside overlooking the estuary of the River Fal, 16 miles from Falmouth by car, but only a short journey across the estuary by boat.
The castle is a four storey coastal fortress surrounded by a curtain wall and ditch. Inside the wall is the main central circular tower connected to three lower semi circular bastions; viewed from above it has the appearance of a clover leaf.
The interior is very well preserved; visitors access the castle via a bridge onto the third floor where it is still possible to see stone carvings in Latin praising Henry VIII and Edward VI.
The castle is open to visitors daily between April and November from 10am and from Friday to Monday between November and March.
As well as admiring the stone carvings inside the castle, visitors can see the original cannon ball that was fired from the castle during the Civil War; this was the only shot that was fired.
The castle also has its own gift shop selling souvenir guides and for visitors who bring their own picnic there are spots with views across the estuary towards Falmouth and the boats in the harbor of St Mawes
The castle is also a licensed venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions for up to 150 guests in the keep overlooking the sea and gardens.
St Mawes Castle was built as one of a chain of fortresses along the Cornish coastline between 1539 and 1545 for Henry VIII as protection against French and Spanish invaders. The design was such that heavy cannon could be mounted on the roof of the tower and bastions to protect against attack from the sea, unfortunately the castles position on the side of the hill made it vulnerable to attack from above.
During the Civil War in 1646 the castle was surrendered without being attacked as the governor knew that it was impossible to defend the castle from an attack. The castle still continued to be used as a gun placement to protect Falmouth harbor until the end of the Second World War and is now in the care of English Heritage.
Other Castles in the Area
Pendennis Castle, Cornwall