Cornwall’s coastline is nearly 700 kilometres long and so it’s little wonder that this often rugged and wild county had to have fortifications to protect against foreign invaders. Cornwall’s oldest castles go back centuries – there are prehistoric forts and castles built into the cliffs that are unique to Cornwall. The castles of Cornwall are set in glorious countryside. Cornish castles protect entrances to harbours, towns, and the coastline. They are strongholds and often practical rather than pretty. Most of Cornwall’s castles are in ruin, but all of them have incredible stories, many have myths and legends associated with them, but all of the castles of Cornwall that we include in this article are worthy of a visit. So come on in and discover the best Castles in Cornwall.
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The Best Castles in Cornwall to Visit
Our selection of Cornwall’s best castles includes the most famous and some you’ve likely not heard of. Cornish castles are often in glorious scenic locations, they are legendary and they’ve kept Cornwall safe for centuries. Here are the stunning and lovely Cornish Castles.
Map of Cornwall’s Best Castles
You can also view the Castles in Cornwall map here.
Tintagel Castle Cornwall
Tintagel Castle is Cornwall’s most famous castle and for me it’s my favourite of the best castles to visit in Cornwall. The ruins of Tintagel Castle are believed to be the fortress of the King Arthur of myth and legend. King Arthur was the medieval figure, head of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The castle at Tintagel is half-built on a headland that projects into the sea and the mainland. The castle is reached by a bridge, which provides stunning views over the surrounding coastline. It is very easy to imagine and believe in many if not all the legends and myths of Tintagel. The cheapest way to visit Tintagel Castle is to join English Heritage.
A brief history of Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
It’s hard to separate myth and historical fact at Tintagel. Tintagel was at its strongest between the 5th and 7th centuries and was likely where the rulers of Cornwall held their residence – finds of luxury pottery imported from Mediterranean countries from that period have been found. Tintagel inspired Geoffrey of Monmouth, a 12th-century writer, who named the castle in his work, the History of the Kings of Britain as the location where King Arthur was conceived. The legend of Tristan and Iseult, a romance told since the 12th century, is also linked to Tintagel. This chivalric romance tells of Tristan, a Cornish knight, and Iseult, an Irish princess, who Tristan was sent to escort from Ireland to marry his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. The couple fell in love on the journey. The story has been retold over the centuries, as well as an opera adaptation by Wagner.
It appears to have been these legends that inspired Richard, the Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle at Tintagel in the 1230s. The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337, at which time, the Great Hall at the Castle was in decay it was at this time that the first Duke of Cornwall, Edward, the Black Prince, reworked the hall into smaller buildings and it was during the 14th century that it was used as a prison. It was in 1480 that William of Worcester, the writer, detailed Tintagel as the place of conception and birth of King Arthur, and by 1650 the name “King Arthur’s Castle” is first found. It seems that by this time Tintagel and the legend of King Arthur were inextricably linked. It’s partly this history, myth and legend that make Tintagel for me the best castle in Cornwall to visit.
Tintagel Castle is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, Charles, the Prince of Wales, but it is managed by English Heritage. The view of Tintagel Castle is one of our best views in Cornwall, come on over and see the others here.
What to see at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
Tintagel Castle is entered via a courtyard on the mainland and then via the footbridge that goes to the island. You’ll want to explore the entire area available at Tintagel Castle including:
- Follow the outdoor displays which provide a guide through the areas of the castle – they provide a historical context as well as some of the legends related to the Tintagel castle.
- Explore the ruins of houses and the Great Hall at Tintagel.
- Don’t miss the defensive ditch at the entrance to the castle.
- Discover excavations that date from the 7th century which include stones inscribed with Latin writing and Greek letters.
- Explore the outdoor artworks – including “Gallos” the life-sized bronze sculpture inspired by the legend of King Arthur.
- Explore Tintagel’s walled medieval garden – there are engraved stepping stones around the garden, which brings the story of Tristan and Iseult to life.
- Look out for the fauna, flora, birds and wildlife in this area which is a Cornish site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- Head down to the beach – and, if the tide is out – explore Merlin’s Cave. It’s one of our favourite beaches in North Cornwall
Where is Tintagel Castle, Cornwall?
Tintagel Castle is on the coast in North Cornwall on Tintagel Island. The address for Tintagel Castle is Castle Rd, Tintagel, Cornwall. The Tintagel Castle postcode is PL34 0HE. The Tintagel castle parking postcode is PL34 0DD.
If you’d like to actually stay in a castle – then our guide to Castles to stay in Cornwall is here – and yes, it includes one that has a view of Tintagel castle!
Tintagel Castle Opening Times
Tintagel Castle opening times are different depending on the month. Usually, Tintagel Castle is open from 1000 until 1600. During the winter months (December, January, and February) the castle is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Check opening times at Tintagel Castle for the date of your visit here.
Tintagel Castle Entrance Fees
Entrance prices to Tintagel Castle are £16.00 for adults and £9.60 for children. Members of English Heritage can access Tintagel Castle for free. You can join English Heritage here and access Tintagel Castle (and many other properties) for free. The Tintagel castle entrance fee includes access to Merlin’s Cave. The Tintagel castle entry fee does not include parking charges.
Launceston was a previous capital of Cornwall, today Truro is Cornwall’s administrative capital, and as such, the castle at Launceston was of importance. The round tower here was built in the 13th century and holds a commanding position on a mound over the town of Launceston. Launceston Castle is managed by English Heritage and, as a member, you can get in for free. It’s not just Cornwall Castles that you can visit with English heritage, but a host of other places too!
A brief history of Launceston Castle, Cornwall
The first castle here was likely built not long after 1066 and would have been of earth and wooden construction. It was rebuilt by Richard, the Earl of Cornwall, Launceston Castle was the administrative HQ for the Earl and has great views over the town and countryside. The best views are from the battlements, which you can reach by the narrow, dark internal staircase. When Richard’s son, Edmund moved the Cornish capital to Lostwithiel in the 14th century Launceston Castle became a prison, her most famous being George Fox, the Quaker founder who was incarcerated here in 1656.
If you’re planning on staying in Launceston, then check out our guide on the best places to stay, including spots that have views of Launceston Castle!
Captured by rebels in the 1549 “Prayer Book rebellion” (a popular revolt in Devon and Cornwall – more here) and was also occupied by Royalists during the 17th century English Civil War. At the end of the Civil War, the castle was mostly stripped for building materials and a small jail was built in the centre. Executions were also held here. While the jail was the Cornwall County Jail, it was infamous for poor conditions and treatment of prisoners (just read the Poldak series book, Demelza for a little more on this!). The jail closed in 1842 and the castle was closed and landscaped by the Duke of Northumberland. During WWII US Army soldiers were hosted here and it was also used as offices by the Air Ministry, which left in 1956. Exploring Launceston Castle is one of the best things to do in Launceston, Cornwall
Today Launceston Castle is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and operated by English Heritage.
What to see at Launceston Castle, Cornwall
Launceston Castle is located in a great location in the centre of the town of Launceston and you’ll need to park in the pay and display car parks in town to visit, although English Heritage Members can visit Launceston Castle for free. When you visit Launceston Castle you’ll want to:
- Climb up the internal staircase to the battlements for great views
- Take a look at the Launceston Castle Exhibition
- Bring a picnic for a spot with a great view
- Visit the North Gatehouse of Launceston Castle – this was once a prison.
Where is Launceston Castle, Cornwall
Launceston Castle is located in the centre of the town of Launceston, you’ll find it at the postcode PL15 7DR.
Launceston Castle Opening Times
Launceston Castle closes during the winter and reopens on April 1st. Normal Launceston Castle opening times are from 0900 until 16:00.
Launceston Castle Entrance Fees
Entrance prices to Launceston Castle are £6.50 for adults and £3.90 for children. Members of English Heritage can access Launceston Castle for free. You can join English Heritage here and access Launceston Castle (and many other properties) for free.
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, linked to the nearby town of Marazion by a man-made causeway. The island takes its name, according to Cornish legend St Michael appeared to a group of Cornish fishermen in AD495 – referenced in “the Great Vision of the Guarded Mount” in Milton’s Lycidas. St Michael’s Mount is drenched in further myth and legend – from Jack the giant killer, to Tristan and Isolde. It is a stunning sight from afar, a family home, and a fabulous place to get glorious views of the Cornish coast.
A brief history of St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
The island of St Michael’s Mount was an important trading post from the first century AD – used as a port for trading Cornish tin. It was in 1044 that a chapel was founded here by Edward the Confessor in a grant to the Benedictine Abbey of Brittany’s Mont Saint Michel. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror granted much of England’s west to Robert, the Count of Mortain, and also gave him the title of Earl of Cornwall. The Earl of Cornwall then granted St Michael’s Mount to the French Norman Abbey of Mont Saint Michel. Following this, a priory was established on St Michael’s Mount by Bernard Le Bec in 1135.
In the 12th century, while King Richard the Lionheart was in the Holy Land during the Crusades, supporters of his brother John seized and held the Mount. The Mount was used during the Civil War – held by Royalist supporters but the holders were forced to yield to the Parliamentarians. Bought by Sir John St Aubyn in 1660 and was used as a summer residence by his family. During the 18th century, the family built a new wing and St Michael’s Mount became a permanent residence. The mount remained in the family until 1964 when the property was given to the National Trust, with a 999-year lease granted to the family to inhabit the castle and to manage the public viewing of historic rooms at the Mount.
What to see at St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount is a whole village – with a harbour, church, and castle. Our guide to visiting St Michael’s Mount is here, but for now, we’ll focus on the castle on St Michael’s Mount.
Use the QR code when you enter the castle for a room-by-room guide to the castle designed by the Lord Levan
- Find the clock that tells you the tide times as well as the time of the day
- See a piece of Napoleon’s coat which he wore at the Battle of Waterloo
- See the sofa used by Queen Victoria as her housekeeper entertained her
- Find the etched windowpane where one of the daughters of the household confirmed that her engagement ring was truly a diamond before accepting a proposal
Where is St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
St Michael’s Mount is located in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, linked to the town of Marazion by a tidal causeway.
St Michael’s Mount Opening Times
The opening times at St Michael’s Mount depend on the tide and the time of year. You’ll want to check the tide times and opening times here
St Michael’s Mount Entrance Fees
Entrance prices to St Michael’s Mount are £14.00 for adults and £7 for children over the age of 5. Family tickets are available. Access to the harbour and village is free on certain dates and times. National Trust members can get free access, but still, need to book an online ticket (here). The main tourist season for St Michael’s Mount is from 1st April to 30th September when access is only by pre-booked ticket.
Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
Pendennis Castle, a coastal stronghold with spectacular views of Falmouth, is a must-see castle in Cornwall. While visiting this historic site, you can climb to the top of the Castle, explore its WWII history and take in stunning views over the countryside. Pendennis Castle, located on a cliff above Falmouth, is one of Henry VIII’s biggest and best coastal fortifications. Since Tudor times, the Castle has defended the coast of Cornwall, and it has played an essential role in the country’s defence throughout both World Wars. Pendennis Castle is another English Heritage-managed castle in Cornwall and members can enter for free.
A brief history of Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
Pendennis Castle was built between 1539 and 1545 when England was threatened by an invasion by the united forces of Catholic Europe. This was countered by Henry VIII, who established a national military and naval preparations program, which included the construction of additional coastal artillery forts. These were equipped with weapons designed to attack enemy warships and troop transports trying to seize control of British ports.
The deep estuary of Carrick Roads, located at the mouth of the Fal River, provided the ideal location for an invading force to establish a base. In order to defend it, Henry constructed gun forts at Pendennis and St Mawes, which were located on opposite sites of the river. It was also possible to defend the castle in any direction because of its circular structure, and many different gun positions were included.
A whole garrison or guard of up to 100 men was stationed at the fort only when there was an impending danger, such as the planned Spanish invasions of 1574 and 1579 (the ‘Great Armada,’ and 1596–1597). It had been anticipated that a Spanish fleet would arrive in Port Pendennis and seize control of Carrick Roads. However, even though this never occurred, the danger pushed the then Queen, Elizabeth I, to reevaluate her fortifications.
What to see at Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
It’s worth starting your visit by going around the perimeter to take in the stunning views of the Carrick Roads and the Fal Estuary, which are visible from the Castle, then taking in the exhibits illustrating the Castle’s history from Henry VIII to World War II. The exhibits follow a series of themes.
- Defending the Estuary– Follow the tunnels to Half Moon Battery to find the WWII subterranean magazine.
- Scanning the Horizon– During WWII, the Battery Observation Post kept an eye on Falmouth.
- Fortress Falmouth– With images, objects, and first-hand recollections from soldiers stationed in Falmouth, the exhibition chronicles the town’s tenure as a Defended Port during the World Wars.
- Weapons of War– Check out the enormous guns in the Field Train Shed and learn about their incredible power for the age.
- The Tudor Keep– Climb the spiral staircase to the roof for 360° panoramic views of the sea and see the full power of the Castle’s strategic location.
- The Coast and Falmouth – Pendennis Castle has stunning views of Falmouth, the surrounding beaches, and the sea. Spot maritime vessels of all types and fauna, birds, and sea life.
- Guns and Cannons– Cannons and guns from the 1400s to WWII will be on display to help tell the exciting story of weaponry evolution and recreate the explosive atmosphere of past battlegrounds.
When you’re ready to have a break the café here provides both traditional Cornish meals and Tudor-inspired dishes.
Where is Pendennis Castle, Cornwall?
Pendennis Castle is located in Falmouth, Cornwall, England. The Castle’s official address is Castle Drive, Falmouth TR11 4LP, United Kingdom. (While you’re here why not check out some of the best things to do in Falmouth?)
Pendennis Castle Opening Times
Pendennis Castle is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the castle is usually closed on weekends. The last admission is one hour before closing. Pendennis Castle is available for weddings and if a wedding is scheduled, the Castle may be closed at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Please check with the Castle ahead of time.
Pendennis Castle Entrance Fees
Pendennis Castle admission costs £6.50 for children, £10.90 for adults, £9.80 for students, and £28.30 for families. Pendennis Castle is open to English Heritage members for free. You can join English Heritage here and get free access to Pendennis Castle now. Pendennis Castle prices include free parking.
St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
St Mawes Castle is another of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortifications and it is the most ornately ornamented. St Mawes was one of a series of forts built between 1539 and 1545 to defend the vital harbour of Carrick Roads near Pendennis Castle from an invasion threat from Catholic France and Spain. The area around Falmouth was deemed as somewhere that an invading enemy could gain a key stronghold and so heavy defence was necessary. St Mawes Castle has a lovely clover-leaf shape, which was once enclosed by eight octagonal walls, and you’ll find Latin inscriptions honouring King Henry VIII and his son Edward VI here. You can visit St Mawes Castle for free as a member of English Heritage.
A brief history of St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
Even though it is not precisely across the harbour from Pendennis Castle, St Mawes was built in 1540 as part of what was at the time Britain’s most complete coastal defensive project since the time of the Romans. Above the rocky beach, it towers over the river, defending the river’s entrance.
Amid Henry VIII’s falling-out with Rome, England found itself in a position of political isolation. In 1538, Henry VIII fortified the coastlines of England’s south and east shores, anticipating an invasion by the French or the Spanish. The Fal estuary could have provided a key opportunity for the enemy to create a foothold in England and it was in 1537 that, John Arundell, a prominent Falmouth citizen, and petitioner petitioned the monarch to have “blockhouses constructed upon our haven.”
In 1539, Henry VIII started construction on St Mawes, one of 30 new fortifications meant to protect essential ports and anchorages along the coast. The structure was completed in 1545. The Spanish Armada sailed close by a half-century later, and the region remained vulnerable and protected until after World War II.
What to see at St Mawes Castle, Cornwall
St Mawes has a host of activities available to you on a visit. These are the St Mawes must-see attractions and here’s what you should see when visiting St Mawes Castle.
- Explore the original gatehouse which leads to the bridge across the ditch, and make sure you look for the handgun loops in the walls as well as the murder holes under the arch.
- Seek out the beautiful stone sculptures of the Tudor royal arms and Latin inscriptions that surround the Castle, flattering the then monarch and his son Edward.
- Look down through the glass panel, which covers an oubliette – or deep hole -, which is where disobedient soldiers and prisoners were kept underground as punishment
- In the café enjoy a wide range of hot and cold drinks and snacks while taking in the glorious view of Falmouth Bay.
- From the open roof of the forward bastion, see the four cannon embrasures protecting the river.
Where is St Mawes Castle, Cornwall?
St Mawes Castle stands on a headland directly opposite Pendennis Castle, where, for more than 400 years it has been guarding the Fal estuary. It is located at Castle Drive, St Mawes, Truro TR2 5DE.
St Mawes Castle Opening Times
St Mawes Castle’s opening times depend on the season. During the winter, St. Mawes is closed on weekdays and is only open on weekends. It’s best to check with English Heritage about the specific dates that you wish to visit.
St Mawes Castle Entrance Fees
Admission at St. Mawes Castle is £4.60 for children, £7.60 for adults, £6.90 for students, and £19.80 for families (including children under the age of six) (2 adults up to 3 children). Members of English Heritage are welcome to visit St. Mawes for no charge. You can join English Heritage here and save on your entry fee to St Mawes.
St Catherine’s Castle, Fowey Cornwall
St Catherine’s Castle is an early artillery fort built to protect the entrance to the Fowey River. It was built as a pair, with Polruan Castle on the opposite side of the river mouth. The castle was built by Thomas Treffy – a businessman, between 1538 and 1540 to protect from invasion by Catholic Europe. Modifications were made during the Crimean War and also during World War II. St Catherine’s Castle is free to enter and is managed by English Heritage.
A brief history of St Catherine’s Castle, Cornwall
St Catherine’s Castle was built following Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church and England’s subsequent isolation from Catholic Europe. Treffy, who supervised the building of the castle was also involved in Pendennis Castle and St Mawes Castle. The castle is named after the headland on which it stands and the views from the castle are spectacular.
St Catherine’s Castle was maintained throughout the Tudor years and was manned during the English Civil War (1642-1646), but fell into disrepair by 1684. When the Crimean War brought further fears of invasion a two-gun battery was added to the castle and a parapet wall was reinforced.
St Catherine’s Castle was brought back into military service in 1940 when it became an observation post and gun battery. The Crimean War era magazine was used to store ammunition and the 16th-century tower was used to control a minefield laid across the Fowey River estuary mouth. Read more about the best things to do in Fowey here.
St Catherine’s Castle is today owned by English Heritage.
What to see at St Catherine’s Castle, Cornwall
St Catherine’s Castle is only accessible on foot. The site is uneven and very definitely NOT flat. As St Catherine’s Castle is close to the South West Coast Path, it’s a great spot to take a picnic too and you’ll get fabulous views of Fowey. There are no facilities here and the best thing to see at St Catherine’s Castle is the view!
Where is St Catherine’s Castle, Cornwall
St Catherine’s Castle can be found at St Catherines Cove, Fowey, Cornwall, PL23 1JH. St Catherine’s Castle is easily accessible from the town of Fowey, about 1.5 miles along a woodland path. The Ready Money Car Park is the closest car park to St Catherine’s Castle and is ¾ mile away.
St Catherine’s Castle Opening Times
St Catherine’s Castle is open during daylight hours.
St Catherine’s Castle Entrance Fees
St Catherine’s Castle is free to enter.
Restormel Castle, Cornwall
Restormel Castle is the best surviving example of an early-round castle in the UK. It is, however, ruined, but stands on glorious grounds with stunning views over the Fowey Estuary. Once a luxury retreat for its owners, Restormel Castle was twice visited by Edward, the Black Prince the castle is now a haven for wildflowers. You can access Restormel Castle for free as a member of English Heritage.
A brief history of Restormel Castle, Cornwall
Dating from the 13th century, Restormel Castle has been ruined since the 16th century but remains a spectacular place to visit. Restormel comes from the Cornish “ros tor moyl”, which means bare hilltop spur. The castle is located on top of an earth mound, is surrounded by a deep dry ditch and has 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Restormel Castle history is a little lost to time, it was likely begun by the Earl of Cornwall, Richard, alongside his other Cornish Castles, Launceston and Tintagel. However, his son Edmund, who moved the capital of Cornwall to the nearby town of Lostwithiel likely completed the existing buildings. King Edward III made his son, Edward – aka the Black Prince – the Duke of Cornwall and deeded him what we know today as the Duchy of Cornwall. The “deed of Seisin” of 1337 detailing this land grant provides the most complete survey of the lands and Restormel Castle. The castle received repairs through the Middle Ages but declined as waste from tin mines on Bodmin silted up the River Fowey.
Restormel Castle is one of our favourite things to do near St Austell, you can check out some of the others here.
A small contingent of troops was sited here during the Civil War – Cornwall was firmly “for the King” and then from the end of the Civil War, it became a tourist attraction with trees and planting enhancing the ruins. The ownership of Restormel Castle was transferred to the state in 1925 and has been managed by English Heritage since 1984.
What to see at Restormel Castle, Cornwall
The ruins of Restormel Castle stand on glorious grounds. The circular structure and walls reveal some clues as to the previous glory here. You’ll be able to see large fireplaces, high windows, and the ghost of the Great Hall. You can climb the stone staircase from the courtyard for fabulous views of the surrounding countryside.
Restormel Castle is a fabulous place to visit in spring when you’ll find daffodils, bluebells, and rhododendrons. There’s also a walking trail from Restormel Castle to the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery.
Where is Restormel Castle, Cornwall
Restormel Castle is 1.5 miles from Lostwithiel, Cornwall at the postcode PL22 0EE.
Restormel Castle Opening Times
Restormel Castle closes for the winter season and reopens on April 1st . Restormel Castle opening times are during daylight hours.
Restormel Castle Entrance Fees
Entrance prices to Restormel Castle are £6.50 for adults and £3.90 for children. Members of English Heritage can access Restormel Castle for free. You can join English Heritage here and access Restormel Castle (and many other properties) for free. Restormel castle prices include free parking.
Chun Castle, Cornwall
Chun Castle Cornwall is located on the peak of Chun Downs near Penzance, Cornwall, and the castle is an Iron Age hill fort with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Following archaeological digs of Chun Castle, the remnants of six circular homes and one oval house, erected later in the post-Roman era, have been discovered. There are two stone walls around the fort, each roughly three meters high, which are flanked on the outside by an exterior ditch.
A brief history of Chun Castle, Cornwall
A large amount of pottery was discovered during excavations in the 1920s and 1930s. Their findings suggested that the major era of occupancy took place between the third and first centuries BC, with a later occupation in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. With its prominent position and great views of the Atlantic, Mount’s Bay, and being the sole land passage to the Penwith peninsula, Chun Castle was almost certainly built for defensive purposes and may have even been used to defend the lucrative tin mines, like Geevor nearby.
In light of the fort’s closeness to the much earlier Chun Quoit, it is possible that it was erected on the foundations of even older construction. Chun Downs also has two more famous barrows, one to the northwest and one to the southwest of Chun Quoit, located on the same property. The discovery of a furnace on the fort’s northern fringes, which included tin and iron slag residues, suggests that the fort was used for mineral processing throughout the Iron Age. Locals relied on a well located inside the fort’s inner walls for water until the 1940s, and water continues to flow from the well to this day. For a variety of domestic and superstitious purposes, such as the promotion of perpetual youth, it has been used in many cultures. Chun Castle is still visited by pagans on religious holidays, just as it was hundreds of years ago.
What to see at Chun Castle, Cornwall?
There’s a well here, and a series of public footpaths, but not a huge amount to see here. Come for a walk on a nice day.
Where is Chun Castle, Cornwall?
Chûn Castle is located near Penzance in Cornwall, England. The address is Penzance TR20 8PX in the United Kingdom.
Chun Castle Opening Times
Chun Castle is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Chun Castle Entrance Fees
Chun Castle is accessible to anyone and is free to enter.
Caerhays Castle, Cornwall
The privately-owned Caerhays Castle and Gardens is located midway between Truro and St Austell in a valley overlooking Porthluney Cove. The family still live in the castle, and it’s possible to take a guided tour of the public rooms of the Castle, but it’s the gardens that are the main attraction here. There are 140 acres of woodland gardens and Caerhays Castle is home to a National Magnolia Collection. It was soon after the beginning of the twentieth century that the discoveries of plant hunters in China had an impact on the surrounding parks and forest gardens. The production of the first x williamsii camellias was one of several hybridization projects that have taken place at the Caerhays estate since then. These camellias were used to help build the woodland gardens that are now visible and enjoyed by visitors.
The gardens here were created about a castle built by John Nash in 1808. Since 1370 only two families have lived here and it’s the current Williams family that created the gardens that you see today. J.C. Williams sponsored the plant hunters heading to China, as well as experimenting with daffodil breeding and hybridization. Caerhays was also chosen as a place to test new varieties of rhododendrons coming over from China and the cluster in the quarry at the bottom of the hill at Caerhays is magnificent.
A brief history of Caerhays Castle, Cornwall
John Nash erected a beautiful castle in 1808, which inspired the historic gardens. When the Williams family took over 150 years ago, it was a decaying castle surrounded by a deer park.
The casual forest garden is a horticultural hotspot. Williams was a major daffodil admirer, and much of his hybridization technique came from the time’s experimental tactics. Williams financed future plant-hunting excursions that inspired the bright blossoms found in the garden today. The national magnolia collection is one of the most important collections in the British Isles, with around 450 varieties.
Caerhays is renowned for its magnificent camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons, but it is also a haven for all common Asiatic shrubs and is a gardener’s paradise.
What to see at Caerhays Castle, Cornwall?
The 140-acre garden at Caerhays is filled with spectacular spring blooms, such as magnificent tree magnolias and rhododendrons and rare woodland trees and shrubs that come mainly from China. Because of this, it has a lot to offer both people who love gardening and people who want to look at and enjoy the blooms. It’s one of the best places to be for people who love magnolias and rhizomes.
For nature enthusiasts, the rhododendrons near the slope’s base are must-see. The national magnolia collection estimates the numbers to be over 450 species and is one of the most significant collections of its type in the British Isles. Even the best gardeners think that Caerhays is a beautiful place to visit. It has a lot of common Asian shrubs, like camellias, magnolias, and rhododendrons.
Where is Caerhays Castle, Cornwall?
Caerhays Estate is near St Austell in Cornwall. It is on the south coast. Caerhays Castle’s official address is Gorran Churchtown, Saint Austell PL26 6LY, in the United Kingdom.
Caerhays Castle Opening Times
The gardens and Castle are generally open from spring onwards.
Caerhays Castle Entrance Fees
Individual Season Ticket – Gardens Only – £30.00; and Joint Season Ticket – Gardens Only – £50.00. Free admission is available to Historic Houses members. A castle and garden day ticket costs from £20. There’s more information on ticket combos at Caerhays Castle here.
Doyden Castle is a little fortress at the edge of the cliffs on the Port Quin headland and you’ll be the queen or king of the Castle in this quirky holiday home. This Castle in Cornwall is now a one-bedroom holiday home with an open fireplace and arched Gothic windows. The stone castle was built in 1830 and has been used more recently to film scenes for the TV show Doc Martin. It was also used in the 1975 BBC drama, Poldark.
Doyden Castle is managed by the National Trust in Cornwall and you can rent this castle in Cornwall for your holidays here. There’s no mobile phone signal here, and you’ll be able to get WiFi at the nearby Doyden House.
A brief history of Doyden Castle, Cornwall
Doyden Castle was built in 1840 and was used by the owner, Samuel Symons to entertain friends and host parties. It is a fortress with stunning views of the headland of Port Quin and has amazing views. Doyden Castle is not open to the public but is rented out as a stunning holiday home for two. You can see more about it here.
Where is Doyden Castle, Cornwall?
Doyden Castle is to be found on the cliffs on the Port Quin headland near Port Isaac. The address of Doyden Castle is Doyden, Port Quin, Port Isaac PL29 3SU, United Kingdom
Doyden Castle Opening Times
Doyden Castle is now a holiday home managed by the National Trust. It’s one of the best Castles to stay at in Cornwall and you can read more about it here.
Cromwell’s Castle – Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Located on a rocky peninsula overlooking the beautiful bay between Bryher and Tresco, the round tower of Cromwell’s Castle was constructed after the capture of the Royalist Scillies by the Cromwellian forces in 1651. It is one of the few remaining Cromwellian fortifications in the United Kingdom. This is the only castle in Cornwall on islands.
A brief history of Cromwell’s Castle, Cornwall
The defences were demolished during the building of the fort to create a place for King Charles’s Castle, which was built on higher ground in the 1550s but was subsequently discovered to be improperly sited. During the final castle’s construction, it was substantially demolished to provide construction stone for the new structure.
The Royalists maintained their position in the Scilly Isles during the whole Civil War. Relations between the Netherlands and the United States were becoming more strained, and so on the arrival of the Dutch troops off the coast of the islands in March 1651, the Royalist privateers were ordered to pay restitution. Robert Blake, who had been lauded as the most successful admiral of the 17th century, was instructed to retake these strategically important islands because of his presence in Parliament.
After Blake’s success, the construction of the Castle in 1651 was a fast reaction, and it served to secure one of the most important routes into the interior of the islands, in addition to the deep-water entry to the port of New Grimsby.
No ship could expect to land men on this side of the Tresco without first destroying or taking Tresco Castle, and even if they were successful, defeating Tresco Castle from the sea would be a long shot. Nearly a century later, a cannon platform was constructed on the seaward side of the fort.
What to see at Cromwell’s Castle, Cornwall?
It’s best to download the English Heritage (free) audio tour to guide yourself around Cromwell’s Castle. You can download it here.
Where is Cromwell’s Castle, Cornwall?
Cromwell’s Castle is an artillery fort on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. It looks out over New Grimsby harbour on the Isles of Scilly TR24 0QE.
Cromwell’s Castle Opening Times
Cromwell’s Castle is open seven days a week, all year round, during daylight hours
Cromwell’s Castle Entrance Fees
While Cromwell’s Castle is managed by English Heritage, it is free to enter.
Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ’s on Castles in Cornwall
Do you have questions about Cornwall’s Castles? Check out our frequently asked questions about Cornish Castles below, or ask us yours in the comments.
How many castles are there in Cornwall?
There were up to 20 castles in Cornwall, today there remain 13.
What’s the most intact castle in Cornwall?
The most intact castle in Cornwall is Restormel Castle, which is the best-preserved example of a circular shell keep castle in Britain.
Can you stay at a castle in Cornwall?
Yes, you can stay the night in a castle in Cornwall. Or longer. Our guide to castles to stay at in Cornwall is here.
What’s the oldest castle in Cornwall?
Tintagel Castle is the oldest castle in Cornwall. It dates from the 13th century.
Travel Tips for Exploring Cornwall
BOOK ACCOMMODATION IN CORNWALL
- Sykes Cottages for fabulous holiday homes
- Holiday Cottages for great holiday cottages
- Glorious places to stay with Rural Retreats.
- Booking.com for hotels & B&B.s
Read about Cornwall in these incredible books
Here’s how to get to Cornwall
Book the best tours and guides on GetYourGuide
Book Trains & Buses with Omio
Check Megabus timetables and fares to Cornwall here.
Rent a Car with Discover Cars
Never get lost with the Ordnance Survey Maps App
Final Words on the Best Castles to Visit in Cornwall
There is nothing better to fire the imagination about the history of a place than to visit a castle. Cornwall’s castles house myths and legends, and are generally located in stunning coastal locations. The castles of Cornwall have protected this stunning county for centuries, through internal conflicts and world wars. Be sure to make time to visit at least one castle in Cornwall and explore the history that abounds here.
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