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St Ives; The Island

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Castle; The Bulwarks

In the civil parish of St Ives.
In the historic county of Cornwall.
Modern Authority of Cornwall.
1974 county of Cornwall.
Medieval County of Cornwall.

OS Map Grid Reference: SW521409
Latitude 50.21634° Longitude -5.47721°

St Ives; The Island has been described as a certain Artillery Fort, and also as a probable Urban Defence.

There are uncertain remains.


Sackings and fires started by French raiders in the mid-15th and early 16th century resulted in the destruction of buildings. The settlement of Porthminster is recorded as being rased to the ground by such an attack. 'Turkish' pirates were also a threat during the 1630s. Fortifications against these and other attacks were built. Willoughby built a fort or blockhouse furnished with large guns for the protection of the bay. This is likely to be the structure known as the 'Castle' said to have been built in 1490 just to the east of the medieval pier and quay. Although thought to have been demolished during the 18th and 19th century harbour redevelopments some element of the structure may be retained in Quay House. This seems to be unrecognised at present and if further research confirms its identity, protection through scheduling or listing would be desirable to recognise its national importance. Further fortifications were constructed on the southern slope of the Island. The remains of bulwarks, recorded in 1535, are visible today: huge ramparts with two bastions defending a gun position at the top of the hill. (Newell, 2005, p. 18-19)

Leland mentions blockhouse, on east side of peninsula, now vanished. Probably built in 1490, demolished around 1866. Saunders mentions an earthwork bulwark with granite revetment built across the neck of the Island in 1590's. This would seem to be a rebuilding of C15 blockhouse. Higham writes the defensive rampart across the neck was probably built before 1500 and considers this a town defence. However, as most of the town would not be within this rampart I think it was an outwork to the blockhouse, although clearly the town's people could have taken refuge behind such a rampart. Duffy writes there were two blockhouses.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:22:23

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