St Mary's is the largest of the Isles of Scilly. It is effectively two islands
joined by a narrow sand bar on which stands Hugh Town, the islands' capital and only substantial settlement.
To the east of the bar stands the main bulk of St Mary's, whilst to the west is the smaller headland, known as The Garrison.
Now that the direct helecopter service to Tresco has been discontinued, all visitors to the Scillies by scheduled transport have to pass through St Mary's.
The Arrow on Normandy Down
Easily overlooked as a track runs right over it, the concrete Arrow on Normandy Down dates from the Second World War.
It once pointed the way to a floating target moored in Crow Sound which used by the six Hawker Hurricanes based locally.
Sir Cloudesley Shovell Memorial
The name Sir Cloudesley Shovell always takes me back to St Paulinus, Crayford where my ex-wife's parents used to worship (and where indeed we got married).
Sir Cloudesley had worked his way up from relatively modest beginnings, to become an Admiral of the Fleet, MP for Rochester and all round British hero. In 1694 he moved to May Place next to St Paulinus, and his wife Lady Elizabeth is remembered in the church.
Standing on the remote Scillonian beach at Porth Hellick and reflecting on the difference between the modest stone that marks the place where his body was washed ashore from the wreck of the HMS Association, and the grand memorial in St Paulinus, let alone the even more grandiose one to Sir Cloudesley himself in Westminster Abbey, really brought home the depth of the tragedy.
The Coastguard Tower (formerly known as the Telegraph Tower) was long thought to be one of three towers that Major Daniel Lyman proposed building in 1803 (the other two being the Buzza Tower and one in the heart of the garrison, both of which started life as windmills).
In fact, this tower was built by the Admiralty in 1814 to replace the Napoleonic Signal Station next to the 17th century day mark on St Martin's Head.
It's time in that role was short lived, however, and it closed in 1816. It was later taken over by the Coastguards who still have a small equipment store on the site, although the tower itself is now a private house.
Although called Harry's Walls, this unfinished artillery fort was built in 1552-53 during the short reign of Henry VIII son, Edward VI. It is thus slightly later than King Charles's Castle and the Blockhouse on Tresco both of which date from 1548.
It is one of the earliest examples of the use of acutely pointed bastions in this country, an idea imported from Italy which first appeared in Portsmouth in 1546.
Although originally planned as a square structure with a bastion on each corner, it was never finished as the Crown ran out of money. In 1593 when funds once more became available, and the decision was taken to abandon this site and build the more ambitious Star Castle on the other side of the harbour on what was to become The Garrison.
Only the two bastions on the western side were built, together with the linking curtain wall, and the remains of these structures can be seen today.
External Links and References
English Heritage handbook entry https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/harrys-walls/
Mount Todden Battery
Mount Todden Battery is a confusing place. It consists of an irregular shaped enclosure surrounded by a low bank and ditch with an entrance on the west side,
in the center of which is some sort of look-out.
The latter is partly constructed of very large stones which has led some to speculate that it is was built out of the remains of a prehistoric
When it was built, however, is open to speculation; it was certainly in existence at the time of a Parliamentary Survey in 1652.
Just to confuse matters further, next to the look-out is the concrete base of a Second World War Final Responder Beacon.