St Michael’s Mount - History and Facts | History Hit

St Michael’s Mount

Marazion, England, United Kingdom

Peta Stamper

23 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island in Cornwall’s Mount’s Bay, England, and is linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway only passable at mid or low tide. Since 1650, the medieval castle and chapel complex has been the home of the St Aubyn family, although today, the island is jointly managed by the St Aubyns and the National Trust.

St Michael’s Mount history

St Michael’s Mount was likely an earlier monastery, but was gifted by Edward the Confessor to the Benedictine order of Mont Saint-Michel (the French order that was later dissolved by Henry V) in the 11th century. The Mount was captured on behalf of Prince John in 1193 – during the reign of his brother King Richard I.

In 1424, the chapel was given to the Abbess and Convent of Syon in Middlesex, ending the island’s connection with the French Benedictines. Nonetheless, the Mount remained a popular destination for pilgrims and the castle was built on top of the island around the same time.

During the War of the Roses, the Mount was seized and held against Edward IV’s troops in 1473. The island would later become occupied by Perkin Warbeck, a young man pretending to be one of the Princes in the Tower claiming the English throne, challenging Henry VII’s reign.

After improvements to the harbour in 1727, St Michael’s Mount became a flourishing sea port and home to fishermen so that by 1811, there were 53 houses and 4 streets in the island’s village. During World War Two, as Britain feared Nazi German invasion in 1940, the Mount was fortified – you can still see 3 pillboxes when visiting today.

St Michael’s Mount today

Open from Sunday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm, St Michael’s Mount continues to weather the tides of time so that visitors can still explore parts of the island and castle. Visitors should book their ticket before arriving, as numbers are limited for conservation reason, and be aware that access might be limited because of the rough, cobbled streets.

Once there, expect to spend a good couple of hours wandering about the medieval settlement: you can visit 9 rooms within the castle, step inside the ancient church and explore the steep, terraced gardens with spectacular views across the bay.

Getting to St Michael’s Mount

Just off the coastal town of Marazion, getting to St Michael’s Mount by car can be done via the A30 past Hayle towards Penzance and Marazion. Park at the St Michael’s Mount and Long Stay car park marked Folly Field on satnav. Otherwise there is a regular bus service to Marazion from Penzance bus station.

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