Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vacation 2010 Day 14: Pendennis Castle


Falmouth was the first place I lived in Cornwall, and I ended up spending more than ten years there and in the surrounding area. It had been about twenty years since I had lived there, so I was very interested to see if much had changed. The first place I headed to was Pendennis Castle.


Built in the 1540's, Pendennis Castle and its sister St Mawes Castle were built to protect the narrow entrance to Falmouth Harbour and Carrick Roads, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Built under orders of Henry VIII in expectation of an attack by the French and Spanish, which never materialized, the castle played a part in the English Civil War and was one of the last Royalist hold-outs.


From the castle one can look down on the Falmouth Hotel, a railway hotel built after the train line came to Falmouth from Truro. I worked at the hotel as a night porter when I was a student. Spent most of my time in the hotel swimming pool and writing my thesis. My kind of job.


Looking back over Falmouth, little seemed to have changed.


The castle itself is not so big, but with several narrow staircases and narrow windows the combination of stone, light and shadow remained evocative. Disappointing was that one floor had been set up with cannons and mannequins and with fake smoke, flashing red lights, and a pre-recorded soundtrack the disneyfication of history and culture seems to be growing.

All around the headland and castle are benches to sit on and enjoy the expansive views up and down the coast and inland as far as the China Clay pits up around St. Austell. I miss benches here in Japan. One of the first things I noticed when moving here was the lack of places to sit in public. My first thought was that sitting was not good for the economy. Waste of time. Should be either working or shopping. Not sure my thought has changed after all these years.


  1. This is enough for me. A stay in the Falmouth Hotel and at least six weeks to meander and research. That would be heaven.

  2. Wonderful shots. Your photos, though coming some 30 years later, stand in sharp relief to the generally negative description Paul Theroux gave of a decrepit coastal England in "Kingdom By The Sea."

  3. Hi Jeffrey..... if thats the book he wrote about his travels around the coast, I enjoyed that. I was in falmouth 30 years ago.... Thatcher was closing down the docks, butI dont remember the time as all that grim :)

  4. That's the book. I recently re-read it and found it less enjoyable than Bill Bryson's "Notes From A Small Island."