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  • Writer's pictureCampsite Cornwall

St Michael's Mount and the Village of Marazion

St Michael's Mount is steeped in a rich and intriguing history, spanning millennia. The mount is thought to have been the site of human habitation from the Neolithic period, with the residue of early pastoral settlements and cultivation evident. The castle, arguably the mount's most spectacular feature, was erected by the Benedictine monks of Mont Saint-Michel in the 12th century. Over time, the custodianship of the mount has fluctuated widely, shifting from the auspices of religious groups to the St Aubyn family, the contemporary residents of the castle. The history of St Michael's Mount is inarguably a testament to its perpetual relevance and enduring heritage in this area.



Construction of the castle

The crafting of the castle on St Michael's Mount commenced in the 12th century, managed and overseen by the Benedictine monks from Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Initially, a simple priory and chapel were erected on the mount, gradually evolving into the sturdy castle we see today. The castle was deliberately positioned for optimal defense and influence over the immediate surroundings. Local granite was utilized in its construction, with the architecture reflecting various periods and styles as it developed over the centuries. Standing today, the castle is a spellbinding portrayal of medieval architectural designs and a constant reminder of the mount's historical relevance.


Role in the English Civil War

St Michael's Mount was a significant tactical location during the English Civil War in the 17th century, functioning as a royalist stronghold. The mount was eventually seized by parliamentary forces in 1646, after an enduring siege spanning several months. Its castle suffered damage during this period, leading to partial demolition. However, it was later repaired and transferred back to the St Aubyn family. The active participation of St Michael's Mount in the English Civil War underscores its strategic worth and sheds light on the impact of the war on the castle's structure and custodianship.


Changes in ownership over the years

St Michael's Mount has witnessed a myriad of transitions in ownership across its lengthy history. Originally managed by the Benedictine monks, the mount was seized by the Crown during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. It was subsequently presented to the St Aubyn family, who have been the proprietors of the mount for over three centuries. Today, the mount is jointly managed by the National Trust and the St Aubyn Estate. The varied ownership transmutations over time offer an intriguing glimpse into the region's convoluted historical and political dynamics and attest to the enduring bond between the St Aubyn family and St Michael's Mount.


Geography

Positioned within Mount's Bay in Cornwall, England, St Michael's Mount and the delightful village of Marazion provide an enchanting setting for locals and visitors alike. The mount, lying about half a kilometer away from the mainland, is reachable on foot, across a causeway when the tide is low. This unique geographic arrangement sets the stage for the stunning vistas of the bay and the coastline that the island and the village offer.


Description of the island and village

The tidal island, St Michael's Mount, spans across roughly 23 acres. It plays host to an ancient castle, a chapel, verdant gardens, and a vibrant community of dwellers. Across the causeway on the mainland lies the gateway to these delights, the village of Marazion. The village, with its narrow, winding alleys, charming cottages, and the quintessential Cornish architectural touches, contribute significantly to the underlying allure and unique persona of this geographic region.


Surrounding natural environment

The natural environs of St Michael's Mount and Marazion greatly enhance the appeal of the region. Characterized by its breathtaking coastline, serene sandy beaches, and rugged cliff faces, the beauty of this location is truly captivating. Vegetation, including various plant species and vibrant wildflowers, dot the landscape, adding an array of colors and charm. The bay - a wildlife lover's paradise, plays year-round host to seabirds, seals, and at times, even dolphins. The resplendent natural magnetism of the surroundings underscores the fascination and appeal this magical location holds.


Culture

St Michael's Mount stands as a celebrated cultural beacon within the region. It is cherished due to its captivating history and magnificent architectural charm. The mount is deeply intertwined with regional customs and traditions, thus drawing the attention of visitors from various corners of the world. Its cultural value shines through numerous activities and events facilitated there, which include historic festivals, intriguing art showcases, and vibrant historical reenactments. The mount takes on the role of a cultural emblem for the area, continually reminding the local inhabitants of their illustrious heritage and distinct identity.


Mythology and legends associated with the mount

The charm of St Michael's Mount is further intensified by an assortment of myths and legends that it is steeped in. Amongst these captivating tales is the narrative of Cormoran, a terrifying giant believed to have inhabited the mount, who caused fear and oppression among the local inhabitants. As per the folklore, it was Jack the Giant Slayer, a courageous local boy, who vanquished Cormoran and liberated the island from his reign of terror. Another captivating myth postulates the mount as once being the abode of a fairy queen. These engrossing tales, handed down across generations, contribute to the mystical air that encircles St Michael's Mount.


Influence on local traditions and customs

St Michael's Mount exerts an extensive impact on the customs and traditions of the Marazion community. The mount has seamlessly blended into their identity and is recognized through various cultural practices. A notable tradition is the yearly pilgrimage to the mount, where locals and visitors congregate to express reverence and establish a spiritual bond. The mount also plays a central part in local folklore and art, sparking traditional craftsmanship and story weaving. Its effect on local customs underscores the enduring influence of this historic symbol.



Tourism

Known far and wide for their timeless charm, St Michael's Mount and the neighbouring village of Marazion, are popular pit stops for wanderers and tourists alike. Among the multitude of utilities designed for visitors' convenience and to heighten their experience, a well-laid out parking space caters to those travelling by car to Marazion, the mount's nearest town. A web of bus routes links Marazion to the surrounding towns and cities, ensuring seamless connectivity for those opting for public transport. During low tide, the mount is reachable on foot via a causeway. A visit to the Marazion Tourist Information Center can provide a wealth of information about the mount and its village through brochures, maps, and expert advice on the local attractions and activities.


Access and transportation options

Reaching St Michael's Mount and Marazion village couldn't be simpler, given the range of access and transportation modes at hand. Those driving can rely on the network of well-kept roads leading to Marazion, with ample parking space nearby. Frequent bus services offer smooth transit between Marazion and towns in the vicinity like Penzance. Importantly, during low tide, it's possible to walk to the mount crossing the historical causeway that bridges the island and the mainland. However, crossing the causeway depends on the tide’s behaviour, hence it’s advisable to verify tide timings to plan the visit appropriately.


Attractions and activities for tourists

St Michael's Mount and Marazion village abound in captivating sites and activities that would appeal to any adventurer. With the imposing castle and enchanting gardens, the mount's appeal is undeniable. The castle, a relic from the 12th century, can be investigated, and its history unravelled through engrossing guided tours. The surrounding gardens make for an attractive landscape for restful walks or enjoyable picnics. Meanwhile, Marazion teems with quaint shops offering local crafts, art pieces, and mementoes. The clear waters that circle the mount provide a playground for various water sports, including swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.


Accommodation and dining options in Marazion

The quaint hamlet of Marazion, nestled near St Michael's Mount, extends a considerable selection of accommodation and eateries to cater to the varied tastes and demands of the tourists. The village teems with welcoming bed-and-breakfasts, guest houses, and hotels to deliver a cozy retreat to its visitors. For those who favour greater autonomy, the self-catered cottages provide an excellent option. When it comes to food, Marazion doesn't disappoint. The array of restaurants, cafes, and pubs serve mouth-watering local dishes. From fresh seafood platters to traditional Cornish recipes, a wide spectrum of dining options is here to tantalise your taste buds.


Conservation

St Michael's Mount and Marazion participate in dedicated preservation and conservation programmes to safeguard their historical, architectural and natural wealth. With support from the resident community, heritage alliances, and governmental entities, these collective efforts aim to ensure the long-lasting upkeep of the island's castle, facilities, and infrastructure. Regular maintenance, restorative initiatives and choosing the right materials and methods are all part of the plan to maintain the original character of the establishment. Rigorous measures are in place to halt any unauthorized modifications or progression within and around the mount. The end goal being to secure the exceptional historical and cultural worth of St Michael's Mount and Marazion for forthcoming generations.



Historical and architectural preservation

At St Michael's Mount and Marazion, the preservation of historical and architectural elements holds immense significance. The proud castle standing since the 12th century is a notable historical symbol which is diligently preserved, focusing on maintaining its unique aspects and historic integrity. This preservation involves meticulous documentation, studies, and the employment of original building techniques and materials for any repairs or restoration of the castle. The town of Marazion's architectural appeal is also carefully kept intact ensuring the preservation of its conventional allure and elegance. This is done by preserving the historical establishments, facades, and architectural ingredients that add to the overall heritage worth of the town.


Protection of the natural environment

The protection of the natural surroundings at St Michael's Mount and Marazion is secured through a variety of conservation efforts. The region has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and its diverse ecosystems and distinctive species are maintained through careful management. Practices are enforced towards averting habitat destruction and restricting invasive species. Continuous surveillance and research offer valuable insights into the health of the environment and lead the way for conservation efforts. Additionally, educational endeavours work towards raising public awareness about the crucial need to preserve the local flora and fauna. Through these efforts, the natural beauty of St Michael's Mount and Marazion compliments their built heritage, promoting a sustainable and harmonious blend of nature and culture.

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