Sunday, 29 October 2017

Port Issac , Cornwall 23rd October 2017

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St Michaels Mount, Cornwall 27th October 2017

On Wednesday the 27th October 2017 We drove from Mevagissey to Marazion, where we parked to visit St Michael's Mount. I've wanted to visit for some years now so at last a visit is here.

Marazion is a thriving tourist resort with an active community of artists who produce and sell paintings and pottery in the town's numerous art galleries.

 We make our way over to get a boat to St Michaels Mount as the tide is in and the causeway covered. Its £2 per adult and a £1 per child one way across.

Still home to the St Aubyn family as well as a small community, this iconic rocky island is crowned by a medieval church and castle - with the oldest buildings dating from the 12th century.

Historically, St Michael's Mount was a Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France (with which it shares the same tidal island characteristics and the same conical shape, in spite of being much smaller), when it was given to the Benedictine religious order of Mont Saint-Michel by Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.

 It may have been the site of a monastery in the 8th – early 11th centuries, and Edward the Confessor gave it to the Norman Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. It was a priory of that abbey until the dissolution of the alien houses as a side-effect of the war in France by Henry V, when it was given to the Abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex in 1424. Thus ended its association with Mont St Michel, and any connection with Looe Island (dedicated to the Archangel Michael). It was a destination for pilgrims, whose devotions were encouraged by an indulgence granted by Pope Gregory in the 11th century.

 The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century and in 1275 an earthquake destroyed the original Priory Church, which was rebuilt in the late 14th century, remaining in use.

 Sir Henry de la Pomeroy captured the mount, on behalf of Prince John, in the reign of King Richard I

Siege of 1473–74 - John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, seized and held it during a siege of twenty-three weeks against 6,000 of Edward IV's troops.

Perkin Warbeck occupied the mount in 1497. Sir Humphrey Arundell, Governor of St Michael's Mount, led the rebellion of 1549. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it was given to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, by whose son it was sold to Sir Francis Bassett. During the Civil War, Sir Arthur Bassett, brother of Sir Francis, held the mount against the Parliament until July 1646.

Climbing the many steps up

 The mount was fortified during the Second World War during the invasion crisis of 1940–41. Three pillboxes can be seen to this day.
Sixty-five years after the Second World War, it was suggested based on interviews with contemporaries that the former Nazi Foreign Minister and onetime Ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had intended to live at the mount after the planned German conquest. Archived documents revealed that during his time in Britain in the 1930s, when he had proposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, General von Ribbentrop frequently visited Cornwall.

 In 1954, the 3rd Baron St Levan gave most of St Michael's Mount to the National Trust, together with a large endowment fund. The St Aubyn family retained a 999-year lease to inhabit the castle and a licence to manage the public viewing of its historic rooms. This is managed in conjunction with the National Trust.

 During the 6th century, before a castle was built, the island St. Michael's Mound sits upon what was once home to an 18-foot giant named Cormoran, who lived in a cave with his ill-gotten treasures from terrorizing local towns and villages. That is, until a young farmer's son named Jack took on this gigantic menace, who had an appetite for cattle and children, and killed him by trapping him in a concealed pit, bringing down his ax upon his head. When he returned home, the elders in the village gave him a hero's welcome, and henceforth, called him "Jack the Giant Killer".

The Giants Heart

The mount has featured in a number of films, including the 1979 film Dracula, where it was prominently featured as the exterior of Castle Dracula. It appeared in the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again, as two guided missiles armed with nuclear warheads fly over the English countryside and out to sea, passing directly over St Michael's Mount. In the 2003 film Johnny English it was used as the exterior of the character Pascal Sauvage's French chateau and in 2012, it was a filming location for the fantasy adventure movie Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box.
"Mt Saint Michel Mix + Saint Michaels Mount" is the title of an experimental electronic track by musician Aphex Twin, who grew up in Cornwall and in Michael Moorcock's series of Fantasy novels about Prince Corum, a fictionalised version of St Michael's Mount appears as Moidel's Mount.
It was one of the locations used on BBC One "Balloon" Idents which were used on the channel from 4 October 1997 to 29 March 2002.

The Gun Batteries-  Replacing earlier smaller gun emplacements designed for battle, the present batteries were installed in the late 18th century and would have been used for ceremonial purposes.

 St Michael's Mount (Cornish: Karrek Loos yn Koos, meaning "hoar rock in woodland")

 The West Door- The Tudor doorway would have replaced an older entrance as this is the same approach as would have been used to the church and priory in monastic times.

Entrance to St Michaels

 The Grand Dining Room

 We head outside to the amazing views.

A Barmy 52 F in October


 It is astonishing that a garden exists here, but despite the gales and salty winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate so that frosts are a rarity and the rock acts as a gigantic radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a micro climate in which all sorts of unlikely plants flourish. Puya, agave and aloe rear out of the bedrock, agapanthus wave their heavy heads, and binding threads of rosemary, lavender and coronilla tumble down the terraces.
The gardens were closed today, but we get a glimpse from up high.

The causeway beginning to show itself beneath the tide.

 A statue of the Archangel Michael to whom the mount is dedicated.

 It is claimed that the Archangel Michael appeared before local fishermen on the mount in the 5th century AD, with the version by John Mirk copying details from the Golden Legend.

Beautiful Stained glass window

 After the church we wandered through more rooms before entering the map room. This room is thought to have been added in the 1780s.
As well as the varied collection of maps, it is notable for the very accurate model of the mount made out of champagne corks by Henry Lee, butler to the family in the 1930s. By then he was in his seventiesand altogether worked for the family for 49 years.

 The Long Passage- Also built in the 1780s series of improvements, this passage runs along the side of the church. It is possible, even likely, that as part of the priory buildings a single cloister would have occupied this same space.

 Garrison Room-  This area lies immediately below Chevy Chase and would have been a storeroom in the original priory buildings with access from above via the small spiral staircase by the Samurai Warrior.
Samurai Warrior.

Staircase down to the Garrison Room
 We leave the building, I go to check on whether can walk the causeway yet.

 Alas the causeway is still covered so we queue to get a boat back.

Plaque commemorating the visit of Queen Victoria  and Prince Albert in 1848

 We alight from the Ferry and go for a look about Marazion, before heading back to the car.