St Mawes Castle

Located on the edge of the Roseland Peninsula, overlooking the vast expanse of the sea, St. Mawes Castle is one of Cornwall’s most picturesque and historically significant fortresses.

Built by Henry VIII in the 16th century as a coastal fortress, the castle is remarkably well-preserved, offering visitors a glimpse into Tudor military architecture and the chance to explore a key part of England’s coastal defence history.

Today, managed by English Heritage, St. Mawes Castle is a must-visit for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and anyone looking to enjoy stunning views and peaceful grounds.

Discovering St. Mawes Castle

St. Mawes Castle, with its clover-leaf shape unique among English fortresses, was designed for both strength and beauty.

It played a crucial role, alongside its sister castle at Pendennis, in guarding the entrance to the Carrick Roads waterway – one of the largest natural harbours in England.

The castle’s grounds and battlements offer unparalleled views of the Fal Estuary and beyond, making it a perfect spot for scenic walks and picnics.

Highlights of St. Mawes Castle

The Gun Room: Housing a collection of historic cannons, the Gun Room also offers insights into the castle’s defensive strategies and the lives of its garrison.

The Keep: Explore the heart of the castle, where exhibitions and detailed models bring the Tudor period to life, showcasing the castle’s strategic importance and daily life within its walls.

The Gardens: Although modest, the castle’s gardens are beautifully maintained, offering a tranquil setting with breathtaking views over the sea.

Audio Tour: Available for hire, the audio tour enriches your visit with historical context, tales of the castle, and insights into Tudor England.

Planning Your Visit

Getting There

St. Mawes Castle is located just outside the charming village of St Mawes, accessible by car with a parking area nearby.

For those without a car, St. Mawes is well-served by ferries from Falmouth, offering a scenic approach to the castle by water.

Additionally, local bus services run to St. Mawes from Truro and other nearby towns.

Tickets and Opening Times

The castle is open to visitors throughout the year, with slightly reduced hours during the winter months.

It’s recommended to check the English Heritage website for the most current information on opening times and ticket prices.

English Heritage members can enjoy free entry.


Shop: The castle shop offers a variety of souvenirs, books, and refreshments, perfect for gifts or mementos of your visit.

Accessibility: The castle’s main areas and grounds are accessible to wheelchair users, but some sections may present challenges due to the historic nature of the site.

Maximising Your Experience

Plan for the Weather: Given its coastal location, be prepared for breezy conditions. Dressing in layers is recommended to ensure comfort during your exploration.

Combine Your Visit: Pair your trip to St. Mawes Castle with a visit to Pendennis Castle in Falmouth to gain a full understanding of the region’s Tudor coastal defences.

Take Time to Explore: Allow enough time not just for the castle, but also to wander the village of St. Mawes, known for its picturesque harbour and excellent seafood restaurants.

Tips for Your Visit

Check Ferry Times: If arriving by ferry, ensure you check the latest timetable to plan your return trip accordingly.

Photography: The castle and its surroundings provide stunning opportunities for photography, capturing both the historical architecture and the natural beauty of Cornwall.

Picnicking: Bring a picnic to enjoy in the castle’s grounds, where designated areas offer scenic spots to relax and take in the views.

Nearby Attractions

St. Just in Roseland Church: A short drive from St. Mawes, this historic church is set in sub-tropical gardens by the water’s edge, creating a peaceful retreat.

The Roseland Peninsula: Explore the area’s beautiful beaches, coastal walks, and quaint villages, such as Portscatho and Veryan.

Trelissick Garden: Managed by the National Trust, Trelissick offers extensive gardens and woodland walks with stunning views over the Fal River.


St. Mawes Castle not only captivates with its historical significance and architectural beauty but also enchants visitors with its serene surroundings and spectacular sea views.

Whether delving into Tudor military history, enjoying a leisurely picnic, or simply soaking in the panoramic vistas, a visit to St. Mawes Castle promises a memorable addition to any Cornwall holiday.

This coastal fortress, echoing the tales of a bygone era, stands as a testament to the region’s rich heritage, waiting to be explored.