Pendennis Castle

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are major building remains

NamePendennis Castle
Alternative NamesPendinas; Pendinant
Historic CountryCornwall
Modern AuthorityCornwall
1974 AuthorityCornwall
Civil ParishFalmouth

Castle, circular keep and curtain wall built between 1540 and 1546. Angular bastions and outer defences added between 1583 to 1598. Various outworks added during the civil war when the castle was besieged falling to Parliament in 1646. Pendennis and its sister castle at St Mawes were built to defend the approaches to Carrick Roads, one of the largest natural harbours in the country with extensive areas of deep water suitable for mooring large vessels and with enough room for a whole fleet of warships. This, and the harbour's strategic position at the entrance to the English Channel, plus the urgent need to prevent raids on the fast developing towns on its shores, made their construction imperative. The 2 castles were capable of considerable fire-power with impressive range and they contained all the available military innovation of their time. This technology was updated from time to time and served as an effective deterrent from attack. In 1644 Queen Henrietta Maria took shelter here previous to her embarkation for the Continent. The first real threat to the castle came in 1646 during the Civil War, when, with a small force under the leadership of the 86 year old Colonel John Arundel of Trerice, it withstood a siege of 5 months. After losing about 300 men from starvation, Arundel and the surviving 900 men surrendered. They were granted full honours of war and marched out "with colours flying, trumpets sounding, drums beating, matches lighted at both ends, bullets in their mouths, and every soldier twelve charges of powder"

Pendennis castle, erected between 1540 and 1545, was the most westerly of a chain of coastal defences erected by Henry VIII in response to the threat of French and Spanish invasion. The original Henrician defences have been significantly enhanced through the years, notably in the Elizabethan period and in the 18th and 19th centuries

The castle was used as a barracks, storehouse and sergeants mess in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During both the First and the Second World Wars, Pendennis castle became part of Britain's coastal defence system. The site now houses a permanent exhibition on the castle.

The Henrician castle was constructed on land leased from the Killigrews of Arwennack. Construction started in 1540 and a circular keep or tower (nearly 17.5 metres in diameter) surrounded by a low polygonal chemise or curtain wall was built. The name 'Pendynas' suggests an ancient fortification already existed on the site and a plan of about 1540 seems to indicate the former presence of a cliff castle. Together with its sister castle at St Mawes, Pendennis defended the approaches to Carrick Roads, one of the largest natural harbours in the country.

In 1597, late in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the fortifications were extended with the inclusion of ramparts and bastions to guard against Spanish incursions. The castle was again strengthened prior to the Civil War. In 1646, it was the last Royalist position in the West of England and a Royalist garrison withstood a 5 month siege from Parliamentarian forces before surrendering. Improvements were made to the outer defences in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the castle was used as a barracks up to the time of the First World War. During the First and Second World Wars a number of coastal batteries were constructed on the site as part of Britain's coastal defence system (see associated monuments). The site is now run by English Heritage and there is a permanent exhibition on the castle. (PastScape)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSW824317
Latitude50.1460914611816
Longitude-5.04658985137939
Eastings182430
Northings31780
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Mark Charter All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey)
  • Duffy, Michael, 1999, 'Coastal Defences and Garrisons 1480-1914' in Kain, R. and Ravenhill, W., Historical Atlas of South-West England (University of Exeter Press) p. 158-60
  • Salter, Mike, 1999, The Castles of Devon and Cornwall (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 26-9
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 19-20
  • Spreadbury, I. D., 1984, Castles in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Redruth)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1
  • Price, M. and H., 1980, Castles of Cornwall (Bossiney Books) p. 33-6, 44-53
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 274
  • Morley, B.M., 1976, Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence (London) p. 10, 14, 39
  • Pevsner, N. revised by Enid Radcliffe, 1970, Buildings of England: Cornwall (Harmondsworth) p. 134
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 792-3
  • Tregoning Hooper, 1927, Old Cornwall Vol. 1 No. 6 p. 7-20 (history)
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 115-6
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 7-10 online copy
  • Oliver, S.P., 1984, Pendennis and St Mawes: an historical sketch of two Cornish castles (Redruth: Dyllansow Truran) (facsimile of the 1875 edition)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 514 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1814, Magna Britannia Vol. 3 Cornwall online transcription
  • Polwhele, R., 1803, History of Cornwall
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 31
  • Grose, Francis, 1787, Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 8 p. 43 online copy
  • Norden, J., 1728, Speculi Britanniae Pars
  • Lilly, C., 1715, An Exact Plan of Pendennis Fort

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 72, 75
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 196-7, 202 online copy

Journals

  • Jenkins, S.C., 1997, 'Pendennis Castle, Cornwall' Fort Vol. 25 p. 169-210
  • Sharpe, A., 1990, Cornish Archaeology Vol. 29 p. 96-97
  • Stevenson, Ian, 1989, 'Some West Country Defences' Fort Vol. 17 p. 11-26
  • Harris, D., and Andrew, J., 1985, 'An ancient wall at Pendennis Point, Falmouth' Cornish Archaeology Vol. 24 p. 182-3
  • Johnson, N. and Rose, P., 1980, 'Recent work of the Cornwall Committee for Rescue Archaeology: Pendennis Castle' Cornish Archaeology Vol. 19 p. 99
  • Morley, Beric and White, Peter, 1974, 'Pendennis Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 130 p. 283-9

Guide Books

  • Pattison, Paul, 2009, Pendennis Castle and St Mawes Castle (London: English Heritage)
  • Linzey, Dick, 1999, Pendennis and St Mawes (London: English Heritage)
  • Morley, B., 1988, The castles of Pendennis & St Mawes (London: English Heritage)
  • Anon, 1985, Pendennis and St Mawes castles (London. English Heritage)
  • Anon, 1982, '_Pendennis Castle'_ (HMSO)
  • Anon, 1963, Pendennis and St Mawes castles (HMSO)
  • Drake, 1934, Pendennis and St Mawes castles (HMSO) (abridged 1947)

Primary Sources

Other

  • Graeme Kirkham, May 2005, Cornwall & Scilly Urban Survey: Falmouth (Cornwall County Council) Download copy