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Castles in Cornwall - Caerhays Castle

Last year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here’ at Gwrych Castle in Wales fueled our desires to visit some of the most interesting castles in Cornwall, and now the national lockdown has started to ease, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do just that!

With over 400 miles of coast, it should come as no surprise that there are many wonderful castles in Cornwall, some of which you can still see to this day. From relics to ancient ruins, there are many fascinating castles for you to explore which will take your breath away.

Read on to see a few of our personal favourite castles to explore across Cornwall…

Pendennis Castle, Falmouth

Overlooking the magnificent bay of Falmouth and the Fal estuary, Pendennis Castle is one of a handful of distinctive circular artillery forts which were built in the 1540s – during a period of national emergency. The Castle has some fascinating history, from the time of Henry VIII to the Second World War.

The area was critical in defending England, to prevent an enemy attempting to invade the country from the southern coastline.

Castles in Cornwall - Pendennis Castle

Originally part of Henry VIII’s national defensive preparations around 1539 – 1547, Pendennis Castle, with its 360° view, has kept a lookout over the port of Falmouth for over 400 years. To the North East, you will notice St Mawes Castle perched overlooking the other side of the estuary.

During the First and Second World Wars, Pendennis Castle was at the heart of Falmouth’s defence against invasion and still stands proudly over the town today.

A great day out for all the family to enjoy learning about the history of the castle and how it protected the area.

Check out our cottages near Falmouth.

St Mawes Castle, St Mawes

Almost identical in shape to Pendennis Castle is the spectacular St Mawes Castle. Overlooking the Roseland Peninsula and situated on a headland, on the top of St Mawes, this iconic castle has a striking presence in a truly majestic position opposite its counterpart Pendennis Castle. 

Castles in Cornwall - St Mawes Castle

St Mawes Castle’s positioning opposite Pendennis Castle encouraged crossfire to take place across the bay, which was crucial when warding off invaders and attacking from two angles.

Still adorning the walls, visitors will be delighted to see marvelous historic carvings and text about Henry VIII.

Check out our cottages near St Mawes.

Tintagel Castle, Tintagel

Of all the castles in Cornwall, this one is probably the most well-known. Find yourself immersed in the history and myths of Tintagel Castle, from the Knights of the Round Table to the legend of King Arthur, this dramatic fortress on the rugged north Cornwall coast is a must-see on our castle tour of Cornwall.

Castles in Cornwall - Tintagel Castle

With a new slate footbridge in place, Tintagel Castle is more accessible than ever**. For the past 500 years, two halves of Tintagel Castle have been separated but now, thanks to the landmark project, they have been reunited, making visiting much easier. The bridge looks pretty spectacular in its own right too, with thousands of slate sheets placed vertically to create an iconic look.

From the 5th to the 7th century AD, Tintagel was a stronghold and home to some important rulers in Cornwall. Legend and History are intertwined in Tintagel. 

Castles in Cornwall - Tintagel Castle

Richard, Earl of Cornwall, built a castle here in the 1230s. As this site had no military value – many presume legend must have inspired him to build the castle here. After the castle had fallen into disrepair, these mythical associations with Tintagel kept the town’s appeal alive to this very day.

A Cornwall boat trip from Port Isaac can offer a unique viewpoint of this historic site, with the chance to spot some of the local marine life at the same time.

Check out our cottages near Tintagel.

Launceston Castle, Launceston

This magnificent castle dominates the surrounding landscape as it sits atop a large mound. Launceston Castle has an unusually shaped keep which is rounded, inside an earlier circular shell-keep. At the top of the castle, you will be able to witness the stunning views across the countryside and the historic town of Launceston, via the internal staircase.

Castles in Cornwall - Launceston Castle

One of its most famous prisoners was George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. His imprisonment here in 1656 was under very harsh confinement conditions. 

The long history of Launceston Castle goes back thousands of years and you can explore these ancient traces through a display with site excavations and other fascinating finds on your visit. 

The castle grounds are a perfect place to enjoy a picnic with some of the most spectacular countryside views in Cornwall.

Check out our cottages near Launceston.

Restormel Castle, near Lostwithiel

The castle of Restormel is set in the heart of Cornwall amongst luscious countryside near Lostwithiel. The ruins make Restormel Castle one of the most incredible castles in the country. It has a circular shape and was built around the end of the 13th century.

Castles in Cornwall - Restormel Castle

In the 14th century, Restormel and the nearby town of Lostwithiel were at the centre of the tin industry, which is where the Duchy of Cornwall gained much of its wealth. Briefly housing a parliamentarian army during the Civil War, since the 16th century the castle has been left to ruin.

Check out our cottages near Lostwithiel.

Caerhays Castle, near St Austell

An English Heritage Grade 1 Listed Building, Caerhays Castle is open to the public during the spring from February through to June. The castle is currently home to the Williams family and as it is a family home, tours are limited. Inside there are some wonderful collections on display, such as Victorian jugs and the crockery used in the running of the house. 

Castles in Cornwall - Caerhays Castle

Outside the spring gardens are really a sight to behold. Caerhays are the holders of one of the UK’s National Magnolia Collections, if you get the chance, witness the 100-year-old magnolia tree in flower. This castle is also famous for its rare and unusual varieties of camellia and rhododendron. A true gardener’s day out in Cornwall if there ever was one.

Have a look at the magnificent magnolia tree from above in the video below.

Close by, there is the wonderful Porthluney beach, a traditional English beach, that is also very quiet and perfect for children and dogs. There is a friendly beach cafe complete with excellent food – occasionally hosting events during the evenings.

Please check Caerhays website for updated information about opening times.

Check out our cottages near St Austell.

These are just a small handful of magnificent relics, helping to provide a glimpse into Cornwall’s past as protector of England’s expansive South West coastline. There are many more castles in Cornwall to visit.

For more wonderful places to visit, check out National Trust Properties in Cornwall. You can find out more about Cornish Myths and Legends on our blog. You will be able to find more information about pricing and booking availability on the relevant websites above.

*Due to the current restrictions in England, please check relevant websites for up-to-date advice on opening times and availability. Even once opened, you may need to pre-book your viewing slot to avoid disappointment.

**Due to the implementation of a one-way system to comply with government guidelines and social distancing, visitors to Tintagel Castle will have to leave the castle via 140 steep steps. 

For more ideas about days out in Cornwall, take a look at some of our other blogs…

9 National Trust Properties in Cornwall You Have to Visit

Cornish Myths and Legends

Dog friendly beaches in Cornwall