St. Michael’s Mount

Cornwall, United Kingdom | C.1659

Photo Credit: Daniel Slowik

St. Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, England. The castle and chapel located on the island have been the home of the St. Aubyn family since the mid-17th century.

Little is known about the village on the mount before the beginning of the 18th century, however, except that there were a few fishermen’s cottages and monastic homes lining the coast. After improvements to the harbor in 1727, St. Michael’s Mount became a flourishing seaport.

The village quickly grew to 53 houses as the population peaked to 221 people. There were three schools, a Wesleyan chapel and three public houses mostly patronized by visiting sailors. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the castle structure was designed to evoke a romanticized nostalgia for a bucolic past. The most apparent feature is a miniature railroad built to take luggage up to the front entrance of the castle.

During World War II, the mount was fortified to protect the island during the invasion crisis from 1940 to 1941. A decade later, Francis Cecil St. Aubyn gave most of the mount to the National Trust. The St. Aubyn family retained a 999-year lease allowing them to inhabit the castle and granting them a license to manage the public viewing of its historic rooms.

The castle is still managed by the St. Aubyn family today, in conjunction with the National Trust. James and Mary St. Aubyn lived there with their four children before becoming Lord and Lady St. Levan when the previous lord, James’s uncle, passed away in 2013.

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