St Mawes Castle

  • St Mawes Garden
St Mawes Garden St Mawes Castle

St Mawes Castle is among the best-preserved of Henry VIII's coastal artillery fortresses, and the most elaborately decorated of them all. One of the chain of forts built between 1539 and 1545 to counter an invasion threat from Catholic France and Spain, it guarded the important anchorage of Carrick Roads, sharing the task with Pendennis Castle on the other side of the Fal estuary.

A charming clover-leaf shape originally surrounded by octagonal outer defences, St Mawes was designed to mount heavy 'ship-sinking' guns. But particular care was also taken with its embellishment, and it is still bedecked with carved Latin inscriptions in praise of King's Henry VIII and his son Edward VI. It owes its fine preservation to the fact that, unlike Pendennis Castle, it was little developed after its completion. 

Explore the grounds which stretch down to the waters of the Fal Estuary and enjoy the stunning views out to sea. There are often cruise ships and other vessels which pass through this busy shipping lane. 

Easily falling to a landward attack by Civil War Parliamentarian forces in 1646, it remained neglected until partial re-arming during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Other coastal forts built by Henry VIII include Portland, Deal and Walmer Castles.

Don't Miss

  • The 'gunners' at rest in the gun room
  • The stunning sea views from the top of the castle keep  
  • Our audio tour that brings the castle to life
  • The 'oubliette' where prisoners were kept captive

Prices and opening times


Castle Drive, St Mawes, Nr Truro, Cornwall - TR2 5DE (Directions)


For just £39 a year, English Heritage members get free entry to our properties and exclusive discounts.


Already a Member? Keep up to date with news, offers and exclusive events by signing up now.


View holiday cottage


Suitable for weddings and corporate functions

Hire this venue