Exploring Cornwall: Castle, Cave and Cathedral

Cornwall is my second home from home! If you’re after seeing magical places, Cornwall ticks all those boxes. It is a heritage treasure trove! I’ve just got back from another two weeks down in the far south west of England, trekking about the Cornish countryside in the back of a van and thought I would post an update about three of the sites I’ve seen.

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, Marazion
Walking along the causeway to the Mount

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion is a new favourite of mine. The St Aubyn family still reside in the castle however the island is now mostly owned by the National Trust to ensure its long term preservation.

It is a beautiful island, complete with a harbour, exotic gardens, Victorian dairy and a winding cobbled path up to the castle. After traversing across the man-made granite causeway (which was being re-made on our visit) we were led through the island’s picturesque harbour featuring a 15th century pier and a series of cottages. The island was once home to over 200 people in the early 19th century until the growth of nearby Penzance across the bay.

St Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall
View from the gardens of the castle

The castle itself is a magnificent and imposing work of architecture and really is worth the long hike up the island path. It boasts a combination of building fabric spanning centuries, from a chapel built on the site of a church from 1135 to a period of construction in the Victorian era. It’s a romantic building and has been used in popular culture, such as the exterior of Dracula’s castle in the 1979 film Dracula.

Gull Rocks at Holywell
Gull Rocks (the two islands, right) at Holywell

Moving on to another special place I visited was the sandy bay of Holywell featuring a site of pagan pilgrimage- a holy well inside a cave.

This holy well takes the form of naturally-created basins shaped in the cave’s wall from a spring that falls from a hole in the ceiling.

Caves at Holywell
Caves at Holywell

It is said that mothers travelled from afar to baptise their children in this well. The tide was coming in too quickly to get photos, so have a look at the Megalithic website for images of the well.

The last place I visited was Truro, Cornwall’s only city. The city did have an almost York-like feeling about it with the skyline being dominated by a cathedral presence- Truro Cathedral.  This cathedral surprised me as being a recent construction in the Gothic Revival style, built from 1880 – 1910 and designed by John Loughborough Pearson. I have always been amazed by how the Victorians recreated the gothic styles of the Medieval England’s past with such attention to detail and iconography.

Truro Cathedral
Truro Cathedral

Truro sits alongside Lichfield Cathedral and St Mary’s Episcopal Church (Edinburgh) as being the only UK cathedrals with three spires. What is also interesting is that the cathedral is the “first to be built on a new site since Salisbury was started in 1220.” (Quote from Truro Cathedral website)

There are lots of other places of historical and spiritual significance in Cornwall and I hope to write more about those in the future…

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