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Pendennis Castle
Falmouth, Cornwall, England
Pendennis Castle.jpg
Pendennis Castle keep
Type Device Fort
Coordinates Latitude: 50.14722
Longitude: -5.04777
Built 1539
Built by Thomas Treffry
Intact with later modifications
English Heritage
Open to
the public

Pendennis Castle (Cornish language: Kastel Penndinas)[1] is one of Henry VIII's Device Forts, or Henrician castle, in the English county of Cornwall. It was built between 1539 - 1545 for King Henry VIII to guard the entrance to the River Fal on its west bank, near Falmouth. St Mawes Castle is its opposite number on the east bank and they were built to defend Carrick Roads from the French and Spanish threats of future attack.[2] The castle comprises a simple round tower and gate enclosed by a lower curtain wall. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

Why Pendennis Castle was built[edit | edit source]

Pendennis Castle was built as one of a chain of forts running along the coast of the southern half of Britain from Hull to Milford Haven. This was in response to the threat of invasion to Henry VIII from the French and Spanish. Henry had changed the religion of England to Church of England so he could get a divorce, money and more power over his country. The pope had asked the French and Spanish, who both had strong armies, to invade England to perform a restoration on the country's religion. Henry knew that the two countries knew of the area, as when the French and Spanish had a war a couple of years before they had fought in the Carrick Roads, so they knew that it was unguarded, and so Henry believed this would be a target that the French and Spanish would choose to attack from.

The siege of Pendennis Castle[edit | edit source]

Coastguard and Henrican castle, view from Pendennis Head.

Pendennis Castle had a role in the English Civil War. It was the last Royalist position in the West of England, and a Royalist garrison withstood a five-month siege (March 1646 to 17 August 1646 and last castle to fall in England) from Parliamentarian forces before surrendering. The English Parliamentary forces attacked the castle from both land and sea, and the Cornish Royalist garrison at Pendennis was under the command of the 70-year-old Sir John Arundel, aided by Sir Henry Killigrew.[3] Pendennis was the third from the last stronghold—before Raglan Castle and Harlech Castle—to hold out for the Royalists. About 1000 men, women and children survived the 155-day siege at the castle before being forced to surrender because of starvation.[4] Previously it had given sanctuary to Queen Henrietta Maria, and the Prince of Wales (Charles II), before their escape to France.[3][5]

Crab Quay[edit | edit source]

Crab Quay[6] lies below Pendennis Castle on the northeast face of the headland. It is the most suitable location for a landing, and a battery was built here in the late 17th or early 18th century, first recorded on a map of 1715.

Below Crab Quay battery are five "D"-shaped concrete platforms just above the water level. These were the foundations for searchlights supporting the Middle Point battery. All surface structures belonging to Middle Point were demolished in the 1960s.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Place-names in the Standard Written Form (SWF) : List of place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel. Cornish Language Partnership.
  2. Philip Payton. (1996). Cornwall. Fowey: Alexander Associates
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pendennis Castle – history
  4. BBC News 2006 – Pendennis Castle
  5. Philip Payton (1996). Cornwall. Fowey: Alexander Associates
  6. Jenkins, S., "Crab Quay Battery", Fort (Fortress Study Group), No. 37, 2009, pp. 3–14

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Colvin, H. M. (ed) (1982). The History of the King's Works, Vol. IV, 1485–1600, Part II. London: H.M. Stationery Office
  • Fry, Plantagenet Somerset (1980) The David & Charles Book of Castles. Newton Abbot: David & Charles ISBN 0-7153-7976-3
  • Harrington, Peter (2007). The Castles of Henry VIII. Oxford: Osprey ISBN 978-1-84603-130-4
  • Jenkins, S., "Pendennis Castle, Cornwall", Fort (Fortress Study Group), No. 25, 1997, pp. 169–235
  • Linzey, Richard (1999). The Castles of Pendennis and St. Mawes. London: English Heritage ISBN 1-85074-723-7
  • Morley, B. M. (1976). Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence. London: H.M. Stationery Office ISBN 0-11-670777-1

External links[edit | edit source]

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