Star Castle and Garrison Walls

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are major building remains

NameStar Castle and Garrison Walls
Alternative NamesThe Garrison, The Hugh; Stella Mariae
Historic CountryIsles of Scilly
Modern AuthorityIsles of Scilly
1974 AuthorityIsles of Scilly
Civil ParishSt Marys

Artillery fort of 1593, intact and basically unaltered although is now a hotel. Earliest part of complex of defenses dating up to WWII. Garrison Walls is defensive circuit around headland called The Hugh, the earliest part, begun 1593, is contemporary with Star Castle but just cut the headland off from Hugh Town; well preserved although altered in C18. The effect of Garrison Walls is to make the whole headland a fortification of which the artillery forts of Star Castle and The Folly are parts.

This heavily defended headland, originally known as The Hugh, provides visible evidence of the main episodes in Scilly's military history from the late 16th to the mid 20th century. The earliest fortification is Star Castle, built in 1593. Around 1600 a stretch of curtain wall was constructed across the neck of The Hugh. The curtain survives from Well Battery to Lower Benham Battery as an uncoursed rubble wall, but all the batteries visible along its line are later additions or rebuilds, as is the main gateway. There were originally three sally ports; one is still in use, another has been blocked and a third now forms a private access to a garden. During the Civil War (1642-46) Royalists erected breastwork around The Hugh. Much was replaced by the 18th century fortifications but parts are still visible on the cliff edge on the headlands west and north west sides as low turf-covered banks. Between 1715-46, The Hugh attained its formidably defended character and became known as 'The Garrison'. The curtain wall was rebuilt and extended around most of the headland; in 1715-42 to an un-named battery and in 1742-6 from here to Steval Point. This last stretch is constructed of massive ashlar blocks. A stub of wall attached to its northern end represents the remains of a single-storey building used as a guardroom and prison

The sea approaches were covered by batteries in large bastions, principally at Morning Point, Woolpack Point and south of Steval Point. Between these, redans increased flanking fire. Charles' Battery and Newman's Platform covered the north side. The present Garrison Gate is an 18th century modification of the late Elizabethan structure. Also rebuilt at this time was the magazine known as Rocket House. In the 1890s, Scilly was classed as a defended port and an advanced signal station. Three batteries were built to withstand attacks from enemy cruisers and torpedo boats. During both World Wars, The Garrison again became a defended site. (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 ReferenceSV899106
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Copyright Gavin and Jason Fox All Rights Reserved
Copyright Gavin and Jason Fox All Rights Reserved
Copyright Gavin and Jason Fox All Rights Reserved

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  • Bowden, Mark and Brodie, Allan, 2011, Defending Scilly (London: English Heritage)
  • Campbell, Adele (ed), 2004, Heritage Unlocked; Guide to free sites in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (London: English Heritage) p. 66-9
  • 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. 15
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 33
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage) p. 50, 55, 79, 120
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 207-8
  • Spreadbury, I. D., 1984, Castles in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Redruth)
  • Adams, F. and P., 1984, Star Castle and its Garrison (Liskeard: Belvedere Press)
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 592-3


  • 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. 69
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 318 online copy


  • Bowden, Mark and Brodie, Allan, 2011, 'Defending Scilly' Research News No. 16 p. 8-11 online copy
  • < >Brodie, A., 2010, 'The Tudor Defences of Scilly' English Heritage Historical Review Vol. 5 p. 24-43 < >

Guide Books

  • The Garrison, St Mary's Isles of Scilly: A Walk Around the Walls (London: English Heritage)

Primary Sources


  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 177 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 186 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 178 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 190 online copy
  • Brodie, A., 2011, The Garrison Defences, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly :The Development of its Defences 1500 – 1945 (English Heritage Research Department Report Serries 39-2011) online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 174 online copy
  • Bowden, Mark, 2011, Isles of Scilly: Military Defences, 1540-1951: Earthworks and Minor Sites (English Heritage Research Department Report series 56-2011) online copy
  • Fellows, D., 2007, The Garrison, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly: archaeological evaluation report Project 4792 (English Heritage Research Department Report series 69-2007) summery
  • Graeme Kirkham, April 2003, Cornwall & Scilly Urban Survey: Hugh Town (Cornwall County Council) Download copy