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St Mawes Castle
Cross an ancient bridge and, beneath the Tudor coat of arms with the royal lion and a griffin, step back into the past at Henry VIII’s St Mawes Castle.
Built between 1539 and 45 to protect England against a Catholic French or Spanish invasion, this beautiful castle has changed little over the centuries and is one of the best preserved forts on the English coastline – a list which includes Pendennis Castle, also built by Henry, on the opposite headland.
High above the Fal Estuary as it reaches the Atlantic, St Mawes Castle was built as a central tower with three circular bastions around it in a clover leaf shape. A deep, dry moat failed to keep the Parliamentarians at bay when it fell during the Civil War in 1646. It was little used since then, which explains why so much or the ornate decoration remains intact. There are glorious Latin inscriptions in praise of Henry and his son, Edward VI.
The stunning views across the river and out to sea. In this compact castle there are lots of incredible vantage points.
Deep in the castle is an oubliette – a deep hole where prisoners were kept in almost total darkness. It’s very scary.