If you want to connect with English history while relaxing and getting away from it all, you can’t do better than Cornwall. In recent years, Cornwall has seen a resurgence of visitors as holidaymakers come to appreciate all that this historic part of England has to offer.
St. Mawes is one of the last undisturbed places to visit in Cornwall. When you visit, there are some sites you definitely don’t want to miss.
About St. Mawes
St. Mawes is an unassuming village that embodies all that makes Cornwall unique. It sits overlooking the River Fal leading out to the sea, and the city was once a bustling fishing port. Whether you’re interested in booking a hotel, driving over in a camper, or renting some of the holiday cottages in St Mawes has to offer, you’re sure to find true relaxation in this village.
The area today known as St. Mawes has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years. St. Mawes was a Christian teacher from Wales who arrived in the area to evangelize in A.D. 550. If you visit what the locals call “holy well” at the base of Church Hill, you’ll be standing on the spot where St. Mawes built his first chapel.
Fast forward 1500 years, and St. Mawes was already a thriving town. In 1540, England’s King Henry VIII built two castles, which you can still visit today. The castles protected the Fal estuary and inland settlements beyond from invaders and pirates. Over time, the town became famous for its shipbuilding and rope-making industries.
What to do in St. Mawes
Visit the castle. No trip to the area is complete without a visit to the main St. Mawes castle. The castle is run by the English Heritage group and is open every day of the year. It is an amazing example of Tudor era architecture and makes a fine ramble for a rainy afternoon.
Play on the beach. If you visit St. Mawes during the summer, you won’t want to miss the great beaches. The two beaches on either side of the harbor are great places for sunbathing. The protected inlet also makes them safe places for swimming — even for children. You can take advantage of tennis courts around the beaches for when the weather is cooler.
Seek out St. Anthony. St. Anthony’s lighthouse, that is. This early 19th century lighthouse was built to replace a coal-burning beacon that sat in the same place for hundreds of years. Its purpose is to keep ships safe from the Manacle Rocks. While you’re there, visit St. Anthony Battery, a set of gun batteries installed during World War II.
Roam Tregothnan Estate. This is a 40-plus hectare garden with a collection of plants highly regarded in the world of botany. If you want to learn more about the gardens and history of the area, you can book a private tour of the gardens. Don’t forget to take a break for tea. The estate grows its own leaves, mixing them with imported teas to create their own unique blends.
See the other castle. King Henry VIII built two castles to defend the river’s entrance, and Castle Pendennis is the second one. It is an amazing showpiece of decorative stonework and also was in service during the English Civil War. Charles II and his mother stayed in the castle in 1646, and it was the last Royalist garrison to surrender in that conflict.
These are just a few of the places you can visit on a trip to St. Mawes. This laid-back village is the perfect place to relax, recuperate, and learn about the history of Cornwall.