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HER Number:18708
Name:ST MAWES - C16 castle

Summary

St Mawes Henrician coastal fort was constructed between 1540 and 1545.

Grid Reference:SW 8411 3275
Parish:St Just in Roseland, Carrick, Cornwall
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Protected Status

  • Listed Building (I) 63079: ST MAWES CASTLE, GATEHOUSE, BLOCKHOUSE, MAGAZINE AND OUTER DEFENCES
  • Scheduled Monument 15420: ST MAWES CASTLE

Other References/Statuses

  • OS No. (OS Quarter-sheet and OS No.): SW83SW 14
  • Primary Record No. (1985-2009): 18708
  • SMR No. (OS Quarter-sheet and SMR No.): SW83SW 5

Monument Type(s):

  • FORT (16th Century to Unknown - 1540 AD)

Full description

St Mawes Castle is one of Henry VIII's 'Device castles' probably built by Thomas Treffry of Fowey. Work commenced March 1540, six months before Pendennis Castle when Treffry reported he had completed the setting out of the 'Fortlet'. The fort although perhaps not practically complete, was garrisoned by December. Treffry in describing St Mawes as a 'Fortlet' implies that even at its inception it was of lesser
importance than Pendennis and it was to be this pecking order, coupled with its poor siting which was to set the tone for its future treatment. Work also seems to have included a powerful sea battery beside the old blockhouse.

Sketch plans of the 1620s show angle bastions probably added to the castle in the early seventeenth century and mentioned by the engineers Morrison and Ogle in their inspectional report of 1623, perhaps to protect the rear of the sea battery below.

Building materials are local shale, with some granite and freestone. The ornamentation of the keep includes inscriptions carved by the Royal Antiquary, John Leland (b6). These verses are described by the Lysons and Hitchens and Drew. Details of the elevations and internal arrangements, are given by Morley. He also notes that although there may have been a small dry ditch on the seaward side of the castle, it is built on a surface 4.5m below the outer lodge on the landward side, to which it is connected by a bridge. This was originally a lifting bridge, but is now solid masonry.

Up to the Civil War St Mawes was maintained by a small company of gunners, who along with the Captain, surrendered the castle and its 13 guns to the Parliamentarian army on 12 March 1646. The castle was considered too valuable to be slighted and it continued to be garrisoned during the Commonwealth.

In 1717 Colonel Christian Lilly described St Mawes Castle as being "in the best condition of any of the western Fortifications." His survey, undertaken in 1717, shows the castle looking remarkably like it does today. A further survey made by Lilly in 1735 shows little change save labelling of a 'bowling green' and' skittle alley.' The bridge across the moat is, even then, shown supported on two masonry arches. Partitions are shown on the ground floor of the keep. The gatehouse is depicted as a faceted lunette open to the sky, serving as a barbican, with a timber framed guardhouse within, against the north west wall. The position of the plate for the guardhouse roof can be seen inside the present structure. There is, however, no sign of
the Elizabethan angle bastions on either of Lilly's plans.

A survey of 1752 describes the main tower of the castle as a 'powder magazine that will hold 200 barrels of powder'. The three semi-circular 'lunettes' were open to the sky with embrasures devoid of ordnance. A report of 1783 describes the castle as a 'great storehouse'. A plan thought to date to the 1790s describes it as 'The Castle House'.

During the Napoleonic Wars the castle served as a barracks for up to 70 men. In 1828 it was described as comprising 'four flights of apartments - two underground and two above with a wooden roof covered with lead and a small turret on top…the upper room is 30ft diameter and the walls about 8ft thick and will contain about 70 men in hammocks. The ground floor contains the apartments for the Master and Quarter Gunners. The first underground floor contains the magazine and store rooms for the Ordnance - and the second underground or basement floor contains the kitchens etc. The castle is between 40 and 50ft in height'. The magazine and other spaces described utilised the original plaster and lath partitions of the Henrician castle. This survey suggests little had altered since 1715 with the exception of the enclosure and roofing over the gatehouse to form a guardhouse. In 1828 the Board of Ordnance approved an application by the Commissioners of the Customs for the 'occupation of…the Guardhouse…by officers of the Coast Guard on the condition that the building be surrendered to the Orndance whenever required and in perfect repair'.

In 1846 the accommodation was returned for one officer, the Master Gunner, and 20 men, still with an internal magazine, described as 'not bomb-proof', and artillery store. At this time the ditches were described as needing 'to be cleared out…and the…counterscarp put in order'.

On 1 February 1848 Colonel J Oldfield wrote to Lieutenant Colonel G F Rowland, the Commander of Artillery in the Western District, describing two magazines "within the castle" as "formed by a lath and plaster partition and thin boarding (with) no masonry or upper covering, magazine No 1 containing 50 barrels (to be revised to 33) and No 2, 50 boxes of ammunition (to be revised to 33) all in good condition." By October 1848 it had been decided to postpone construction of a water tank in the castle to the following year.

On 21 February 1851 the Board of Ordnance permitted the Coastguard to erect a battery at the castle for drilling their men and agreed to them storing ammunition in a "small magazine" within.

The 1828 survey of the Henrician castle was revised in 1870 showing precisely which alterations had taken place in the intervening period: The old octagonal pitched lead roof of the central tower had been replaced with an asphalt covered concrete slab supported by filler joists on a substantial composite wrought iron beam; The room below had been fitted out with wall seats for the barrack accommodation. A wooden deck had been installed to permit access from the keep to the wall walk of the west lunette and thence to a 37' high flagstaff against the parapet. A number of the Tudor doorways had been framed out and closed with four panelled doors. A coal cellar had also been formed beneath the gatehouse. The reservoir, probably built in 1849, is shown in the north west lunette and various privys and urinals for women and NCO's are shown as well as a small magazine within a mural room.

By 1855 a detachment of the Royal Miners Militia Artillery was based at St Mawes manning the sea battery on which structure most of the significant changes at St Mawes are evident. The Fort Record Book for the quick-fire batteries at St Mawes records the uses of the castle at this time: in 1905 it was still returned for 20 men in the large circular room on the top floor. The room was also reported to contain two coal fired cooking ranges with a 'well flyproofed larder' and mop and plate racks. The remainder was divided up into three married quarters, occupied by District Gunners, including the guardhouse which in addition was designated as barracks in wartime. The basement held stores and was earmarked for accommodation for a further 20 men. The keep's first telephone, a Deckert transmitter from which an administrative line ran to 5 Grove Place, Falmouth, was sited on the ground floor in the entrance. The castle remained in military hands during the First World War but does not seem to have been garrisoned or armed.

The castle was designated a Guardianship Ancient Monument and surveyed by His Majesty's Office of Works in June 1920. The resulting drawings were revised in 1932 by the scratching out of various ink lines. This would seem to correlate with features removed from the building between 1920 and 1932. They comprised:

Third floor: the two cooking ranges; all of the iron accoutrement racks and wooden doors to lockers set into the reveals of the window embrasures; all but one bay of the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century wall seating was removed.

Second floor (entrance floor): In 1920 the second floor was divided into four rooms for the District Gunner:
sitting, living and two bedrooms. The partitions were removed by 1932 to create the large room that one enters immediately prior to stepping down into the south lunette; in the Guardhouse the stairs to the cellar from the yard were filled in and the partition dividing the District Gunner's scullery from kitchen removed; the plan of the cellar was completely removed (suggesting that it may have been filled in for a time. It is now open.)

First floor: All internal partitions were removed leaving only two central posts.

Basement: Sink and slate shelves removed from north room; stove and match board lining removed from south room; the posts supporting the access deck in the south lunette removed.

After its designation as an Ancient Monument the first custodians began to plant in and around the walls with the semi-tropical and unusual varieties which thrive in the south west. These gardens were partially dug over to grow vegetables during World War Two.

The 19th century accommodation remained largely intact right up until July 1941 when 24 men of 173 Coast Battery Royal Artillery arrived to man the new battery of 6-pdr twin quick-fire guns. The castle was designated Local Defence Headquarters, armed with two Sten guns. By November the engineers had installed incandescent lighting in the castle powered from an engine room. Ablutions comprised four basins with six taps and four WCs.

At some point after World War Two the mid C19 concrete roof to the central tower was replaced with a facsimile of the lead covered wooden roof it replaced. During the 1960's almost all evidence of the Second World War works at St Mawes was destroyed by the Ministry ofWorks to restore the tranquil setting of the castle (12).

The Scheduling was revised on 10th July 1996.

--------------------------------
Site history:
1: 1938. PD/IAM
2: 1968. KING, AN/OS
3: 1987. WESTON, SM/IAM
--------------------------------


Johns C & Thorpe, C, 2008, St Mawes Castle, Cornwall, Access Improvements - Archaeological watching brief August-December 2008 (Cornwall Event Report). SCO25369.

Johns C, 2009, St Mawes Castle, Cornwall, Access Improvements - Archaeological Watching Brief Jan-March 2009 (Cornwall Event Report). SCO25370.

<1> Norden, J, 1728, Speculi Britanniae Pars (Bibliographic reference). SCO4001.

<2> Lysons, D & S, 1814, Magna Britannia, VOL III, CORNWALL, 99, 153 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3885.

<3> Hitchins, F & Drew, S (Eds), 1824, The History of Cornwall, VOL 2, 349-350 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3595.

<4> Polsue, J (Editor), 1867-72, Lake's Parochial History of Cornwall, VOL 2, 309 (Bibliographic reference). SCO4139.

<5> Pasfield Oliver, S, 1875, Pendennis and St Mawes (Bibliographic reference). SCO4086.

<6> Toulmin Smith, L (Ed), 1907, The Itinerary of John Leland (Bibliographic reference). SCO4949.

<7> Ordnance Survey, 1970s, 1:10,000 OS Map (Cartographic materials). SCO4045.

<8> UNKNOWN, 1963, MOW PAMPHLET (Unedited Source). SCO7886.

<9> Carew, R, 1969, The Survey of Cornwall 1602 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3044.

<10> Sheppard, PA, 1980, The Historic Towns of Cornwall, 21-22 (Cornwall Event Report). SCO4422.

<11> Morley, B, 1988, The Castles of Pendennis and St Mawes (Bibliographic reference). SCO3957.

<12> Linzey, R, 2000, Fortress Falmouth. An conservation plan for the historic defences of Falmouth Haven Vol II (2000), site W2 (Cornwall Event Report). SCO1563.

Sources / Further Reading

---SCO25369 - Cornwall Event Report: Johns C & Thorpe, C. 2008. St Mawes Castle, Cornwall, Access Improvements - Archaeological watching brief August-December 2008.
---SCO25370 - Cornwall Event Report: Johns C. 2009. St Mawes Castle, Cornwall, Access Improvements - Archaeological Watching Brief Jan-March 2009.
[1]SCO4001 - Bibliographic reference: Norden, J. 1728. Speculi Britanniae Pars.
[2]SCO3885 - Bibliographic reference: Lysons, D & S. 1814. Magna Britannia. VOL III, CORNWALL, 99, 153.
[3]SCO3595 - Bibliographic reference: Hitchins, F & Drew, S (Eds). 1824. The History of Cornwall. VOL 2, 349-350.
[4]SCO4139 - Bibliographic reference: Polsue, J (Editor). 1867-72. Lake's Parochial History of Cornwall. VOL 2, 309.
[5]SCO4086 - Bibliographic reference: Pasfield Oliver, S. 1875. Pendennis and St Mawes.
[6]SCO4949 - Bibliographic reference: Toulmin Smith, L (Ed). 1907. The Itinerary of John Leland.
[7]SCO4045 - Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 1970s. 1:10,000 OS Map.
[8]SCO7886 - Unedited Source: UNKNOWN. 1963. MOW PAMPHLET.
[9]SCO3044 - Bibliographic reference: Carew, R. 1969. The Survey of Cornwall 1602.
[10]SCO4422 - Cornwall Event Report: Sheppard, PA. 1980. The Historic Towns of Cornwall. 21-22.
[11]SCO3957 - Bibliographic reference: Morley, B. 1988. The Castles of Pendennis and St Mawes.
[12]SCO1563 - Cornwall Event Report: Linzey, R. 2000. Fortress Falmouth. An conservation plan for the historic defences of Falmouth Haven Vol II (2000). site W2.

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • ECO3744 - St Mawes Castle, Cornwall. Access Improvements 2008
  • ECO3745 - St Mawes Castle, Cornwall, Access Improvements 2009

Related records

MCO60762Parent of: CASTLE POINT, ST MAWES - Modern coast artillery searchlight (Monument)
MCO60765Parent of: CASTLE POINT, ST MAWES - Post Medieval coast artillery battery (Monument)
18708.30Parent of: ST MAWES - C16 battery (Monument)
18708.20Parent of: ST MAWES - C16 blockhouse (Monument)
MCO62521Parent of: ST MAWES - C18 bowling green (Monument)
MCO62518Parent of: ST MAWES - C18 gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62519Parent of: ST MAWES - C18 gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62520Parent of: ST MAWES - C18 landing place (Monument)
MCO62522Parent of: ST MAWES - C18 skittle alley (Monument)
MCO62523Parent of: ST MAWES - C19 boundary stone (Monument)
MCO62526Parent of: ST MAWES - C19 electric light director's cell (Building)
MCO62527Parent of: ST MAWES - C19 engine room (Building)
MCO62516Parent of: ST MAWES - C19 gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62524Parent of: ST MAWES - C19 minefield observation station (Building)
MCO62530Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 caretaker's quarters (Building)
MCO62528Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 engine room (Building)
MCO62532Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 latrines (Building)
MCO62525Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 minefield alignment sockets (Monument)
MCO62531Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 reservoir (Monument)
MCO62534Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 water closet (Building)
MCO62533Parent of: ST MAWES - C20 water tank (Monument)
MCO62538Parent of: ST MAWES - Modern house (Building)
18708.50Parent of: ST MAWES - Post Medieval battery (Monument)
18708.10Parent of: ST MAWES - Post Medieval guardhouse (Monument)
MCO62539Parent of: ST MAWES - Post Medieval house (Building)
18708.40Parent of: ST MAWES - Post Medieval yard (Monument)
MCO62543Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two anti-aircraft battery (Monument)
MCO62541Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two defence lines (Monument)
MCO62529Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two fuel store (Building)
MCO62535Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62542Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62544Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two gun emplacement (Monument)
MCO62540Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two range (Monument)
MCO62536Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two shelter (Building)
MCO62537Parent of: ST MAWES - World War Two watch shelter (Building)
MCO59356Parent of: ST MAWES CASTLE - C19 boundary stone (Monument)
MCO59357Parent of: ST MAWES CASTLE - C19 boundary stone (Monument)
MCO59358Parent of: ST MAWES CASTLE - C19 boundary stone (Monument)
MCO59360Parent of: ST MAWES CASTLE - C19 marker post (Monument)
MCO59361Parent of: ST MAWES CASTLE - C19 marker post (Monument)

Images

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No image caption available  © Emma Trevarthen@Cornwall Council

No image caption available © Emma Trevarthen@Cornwall Council