Pendennis Castle, Falmouth
One of Henry VIII’s finest coastal fortresses, Pendennis Castle at Falmouth was built between 1539 and 1545, to protect Cornwall from foreign invasion. Much of the original building is still intact, showcasing some fascinating Tudor features. Come and learn all about the history of the castle and its important role throughout the centuries.
THE HISTORY OF PENDENNIS CASTLE
The gun tower and chemise at Pendennis were built under the instruction of King Henry VIII, to aid in coastal national defence. During the late 16th century, bastioned forts and Elizabethan ramparts were added to improve defences. The Office of Ordnance added Guard Barracks at the turn of the 18th century, and as time passed, gun batteries were replaced by breech-loading emplacements – actively used until 1956! The Battery Observation Post and the Battery Plotting Room were added during the Second World War.
Pendennis Castle played a vital role in both World Wars, and today, provides a fascinating insight into our wartime history and heritage.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO?
Discover a fortress built over many centuries at Pendennis. The ‘Keep’, a round four storey tower in the centre of the castle, is the oldest part of the fortress. It has a kitchen and store room in the basement, guns in the next two floors and an open roof with lookout. Climb the stone spiral staircase, passing the Governor’s bedroom to reach the top and enjoy magnificent views across the sea and to Falmouth.
A platform (chemise) surrounds the Keep, which is itself encircled by a dry ditch. The building directly in front of the castle has lots of Tudor inscriptions and decorations including the Tudor Royal Arms and an oriel window.
Also onsite are the ‘One Gun Battery’, a Victorian emplacement which retracted underground immediately after the gun had fired, and the Half Moon Battery with its ammunition magazines – another Victorian addition which is accessed via a tunnel cut out of the rocks.
The ‘Fortress Falmouth’ exhibition tells of the role Pendennis played during the First World War – including personal accounts of soldiers stationed here and weapons of the time… and the Discovery Centre (once the Field Train Shed, where horse-drawn artillery would be stored) is full of interactive displays and activities to help you make the most of your visit – you can even tryout morse code.
Don’t forget to look out for ‘Little Dennis’ – the first Tudor fort to be built on the headland – and the Observation Point (built during the Second World War)… and if you would like to learn more, guided tours of parts of the castle usually unseen by the general public are available at an additional cost.
Finally, before you leave, stop by at the gift shop for a souvenir of your visit, or enjoy a spot of lunch either in the tearoom or on the lawned picnic area.
There is always something going on at Pendennis, including plenty of family-friendly activities and workshops throughout the year. From children’s battles to trying on armour, Halloween tours and Grand Medieval Jousts, there is something for all ages. To see what’s on during your holiday, please click here.