Known as the sister of Falmouth’s Pendennis Castle, St Mawes Castle stands just outside Truro on the opposite side of the Fal estuary. Not only is Mawes Castle in the best condition of all of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses, but it’s also beautifully decorated throughout. The castle was built as one of a series of forts intended to protect against invasion from Europe and it was created to mount heavy guns for sinking ships.
This is a fortress that has changed little over the centuries, offering its visitors a peek into the past as they wander its grounds. The Latin inscriptions praising the king and his young son Edward can still be seen etched into the castle, and as St Mawes was never developed after it was finished it stands much as it did in the 1500s. An audio tour helps to bring the castle to life for visitors, and it’s aimed at children as well as the adults making St Mawes a family attraction. While you’re there look out for the ‘gunners’ enjoying a rest in the gun room, and don’t miss the Civil War cannonball discovered in the castle.
The castle fell at the hands of Civil War Parliamentarian forces in 1646 and was abandoned until the 19th and 20th centuries when it was partially rearmed. Picnics are welcome in the castle grounds (although there are no picnic benches so you’ll need to bring a blanket), and dogs on leads can be taken throughout the grounds and in the castle’s keep.