St Michael’s Mount, is the jewel in Cornwall’s crown. This, the most famous of Cornwall’s landmarks, has a fascinating history, is steeped in both legend and folklore, has stunning panoramic views across Mounts Bay to Lands End and The Lizard, boasts a picturesque harbour and has a spectacular castle, complete with majestic gardens. The Mount is a complete family day out, with quite literally something for everyone.
Originally the site of a Benedictine Chapel, the spectacular castle on the rock dates from the 14th Century.
Now in the care of the National Trust, the Mount’s castle and gardens are open to the public during weekdays from April to October, and most weekends. Access is on foot across the causeway at low tide, or by short ferry crossing at high tide. St Michael’s Mount, is “the jewel in Cornwall’s crown”.
This, the most famous of Cornwall’s landmarks, has a fascinating history, is steeped in both legend and folklore, has stunning panoramic views across Mounts Bay to Lands End and The Lizard, boasts a picturesque harbour and has a spectacular castle, complete with majestic gardens. The Mount is a complete family day out, with quite literally something for everyone.
Perched on top of a great granite crag, St Michael’s Mount rises majestically out of the sea in Mount’s Bay. St Michael’s Mount is an island at high tide and a romantic sight. The island has a small harbour on its northern shore, with picturesque houses, shops and restaurants. The island is approached via a causeway at low tide, or by boats, which land in the harbour. The terraced gardens offer superb views across the bay to Penzance, Newlyn, Land’s End and the Lizard Peninsula.
The St Aubyn family – created a stunning garden with pathways that wind their way up to the main entrance of the mount through carefully planted slopes that feature many sub-tropical species. The southerly aspect of the island is not open to the public, but glimpses of the sub-tropical gardens can be seen from the walls of the house or by taking one of the boat trips around the island that leave from the quayside at regular intervals.
Official Website : www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk
The island is steeped in local folklore and history. Children listen intently to tales of “Jack the Giant killer” as they walk past the well were the Giant was eventually trapped. Cornish Legend holds that the Mount was built by the giant, ‘Cormoran’. Cormoran, would wade ashore from the island, to snatch cows and sheep as they grazed in the local fields around Marazion. A local boy rowed out to the island whilst Cormoran slept. He worked through the night; digging a deep pit half way up the northern slope of the Mount. By morning, the pit was complete; Jack stood to one side of it and blew on his horn to wake the mighty Cormoran. The giant ran down the hillside, with the glare of the early morning sun dazzling his eyes. He failed to see either Jack or the pit and fell headlong into it. The grateful locals gave Jack the title ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ and a local rhyme was created about his exploits.
Here’s the valiant Cornishman
Who slew the Giant Cormoran
As you walk up the main pathway from the harbour to the Castle, you pass the heavily shuttered well, where the giant fell
In the great Celtic tragedy of Tristan and Isolde, which may be partly historical, the hermit Ogrin was sent by King Mark, to St. Michaels Mount to buy clothes of fine wool and linen, for Queen Isolde. During the 12th century, the legend was firmly based around the Cornish Coastline, Castle Dore near Fowey, the Forest of Moresk near Truro and St. Michaels Mount, but, in the political upheaval of mediaeval Britain, story was linked to the Legend of King Arthur and the Castle at Tintagel.
The mount itself, is dedicated to St. Michael, whom in Cornish Legend; appeared to a group of Cornish fishermen in 495 AD – standing high on a rocky ledge on the western side of the Mount. This is The Great Vision of the Guarded Mount from Milton’s Lycidas (A lament for a friend drowned during a passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637).
Historically, St Michael’s Mount was a Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy,France (which shares the same tidal island characteristics and the same conical shape), when it was given to the Benedictines, religious order of Mont Saint-Michel, by Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.
St Michael’s Mount is one of 43 (unbridged) tidal islands which can be walked to from mainland Britain.
The harbour, widened in 1823 to allow vessels of 500 tons to enter, has a pier dating from the fifteenth century which was subsequently enlarged and restored.Queen Victoria landed at the harbour from the royal yacht in 1846, and a brass inlay of her footstep can be seen at the top of the landing stage. King Edward VII’s footstep is also visible near the bowling-green. In 1967 the Queen Mother entered the harbour in a pinnacle from the royal yacht Britannia.
1st April – 29th October Sunday – Friday
10.30am – 5.30pm. Last admission: 4.45pm.
St Michael’s Mount.
Marazion, Penzance, Cornwall TR17 0EF Tel: 01736 710507
Information Courtesy of National Trust
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