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Pendennis Castle

A Grade I Listed Building in Falmouth, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1461 / 50°8'46"N

Longitude: -5.0466 / 5°2'47"W

OS Eastings: 182430

OS Northings: 31784

OS Grid: SW824317

Mapcode National: GBR ZG.4X4N

Mapcode Global: FRA 089M.RQM

Plus Code: 9C2P4XW3+C9

Entry Name: Pendennis Castle

Listing Date: 23 January 1973

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1270096

English Heritage Legacy ID: 460091

ID on this website: 101270096

Location: Cornwall, TR11

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Falmouth

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Budock

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Tagged with: Fort Military museum Device Fort Independent museum

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843-1/2/42 Pendennis Castle


Castle, built as part of coastal defences for Henry VIII;
built on site of probable prehistoric hillfort. 1540-1545;
gatehouse, attached curtain wall and state rooms later C16;
1st governor was John Killigrew, who as with other such
castles was obliged to maintain the garrison out of his own
pocket. Fortifications extended in 1597 to the design of an
English military engineer, Paul Ivey for Elizabeth I. Probably
at this time extensions (since removed) were added to the
Governor's quarters and the gatehouse of the main keep. The
outer gatehouse and enclosure c1611, gatehouse probably
rebuilt early C18. Attached to the outer gatehouse projecting
inwards on either side are 2 blocks of 1779, an accommodation
block and a guardhouse block with cells; further changes to
the outer defences were made in the C18 and C19.
MATERIALS: granite ashlar keep, state rooms and gatehouses,
moulded string courses and widely-spaced battlements for gun
positions; lead roofs to main block; octagonal stack with
moulded top to north-east side of state rooms, other stacks to
merlons of embattled parapet; carved animal head gargoyles;
dry slate to outer gatehouse and attached blocks with central
rubble stacks; part of these and other walls are rubble with
granite dressings; vertically-set rubble alternating with
horizontal rubble on bedrock to battered outer defences.
PLAN: circular keep; octagonal internally with 3.36m thick
walls surmounted by octagonal stair turret at the junction
with rectangular state room block, linked to small-plan
gatehouse projection (to south-west) with octagonal stair
turret to the inner angle; attached polygonal 16-sided curtain
wall. Polygonal-on-plan outer defences with bastions at the
The Outer Gatehouse has a wing at right angles behind each
side flanking the carriageway. There is another wing left of
the guardhouse on the left as you go in. Within the entrance
passage are 2 deep refuges, one containing a windlass for
winding up the former drawbridge.
EXTERIOR OF MAIN BUILDING: 2-storey-over-basement keep with
staggered splayed (both internally and externally) gunports,
under basket arches to 1st floor, round openings to ground
floor. Segmental-arched bridge, replacing drawbridge, crossing
moat to entrance with moulded 4-centred arch, original
portcullis, blind panel and drawbridge slots above, and Royal
Coat of Arms above parapet string. Projecting left of entrance
is the front end of the state rooms (Governor's Quarters) with
canted 1st-floor oriel, former gunport, carried on moulded
corbelling and its sidelights within deep splay; small gunport
below. Further splayed gunports under 4-centred arches to
1st-floor side walls of castle gatehouse/state rooms; 2
inserted openings with sashes to left-hand side; mullioned
windows to ground floor, external ashlar chimney breast to
left-hand side and small doorway to rear of entrance
projection. One of the ground-floor gunports has been altered
to create a window. The basement is lit by small 2-light
mullioned windows with sills at the level of the gun terrace
between the keep and the curtain wall. There is a small 2-cell
garderobe on this terrace just to the right of the entrance.
EXTERIOR OF OUTER GATEHOUSE: moulded pediment over stepped
doorway with rusticated pilasters; recessed round-arched inner
doorway, ashlar stack over small penthouse behind parapet.
Elevations facing carriageway are 4-window ranges with
segmental arches over C20 windows with glazing bars including
a 12-pane sash; wide granite steps with wrought-iron railings
in front of doorways.
INTERIOR OF MAIN BUILDING: keep has granite newel stair
connecting the 3 floors and continuing up to a lookout. There
are 4-centred arched doorways, some with double-planked oak
doors. Granite-flagged basement kitchen has a chamfered
basket-arched fireplace with later oven on its right and a
recess cut on the left; large central pier to give extra
support to the floor above and a latrine built into the
thickness of the outer wall. Ground floor is a gun platform
with 7 ports and a gardrobe with a pit; keeping places for
gunpowder on the right of each gun position; 1st floor has
similar details to its gunports and there is a flat-headed
chamfered fireplace. State rooms have larger newel stair.
There are 2 rooms on each floor, also there is the gatehouse
itself which has a room above the entrance in which to operate
the portcullis and there is a small closet at the rear.
Ground-floor parlour has C18 ovolo-moulded painted pine
panelling and a mid C19 iron grate within a panelled
chimney-piece with consoles. Kitchen beyond has shallow
4-centred arched fireplace with keeping place and oven, and
granite corbels to support hearth-stone of corbelled fireplace
in room above. This chamber has C18 fielded panelling, moulded
plaster ceiling cornice and panelled window shutters.
Adjoining Governor's Chamber has bolection-moulded panelling,
granite corbelled fireplace by a corner and a window seat in
former gun position on its left. Panelled off in the other
front corner is a latrine closet. Beside this, in the side

wall, is a blocked doorway which was cut through to provide
access to former extensions.
HISTORY: Pendennis and its sister castle at St Mawes were
built to defend the approaches to Carrick Roads, one of the
largest natural harbours in the country with extensive areas
of deep water suitable for mooring large vessels and with
enough room for a whole fleet of warships. This, and the
harbour's strategic position at the entrance to the English
Channel, plus the urgent need to prevent raids on the fast
developing towns on its shores, made their construction
imperative. The 2 castles were capable of considerable
fire-power with impressive range and they contained all the
available military innovation of their time. This technology
was updated from time to time and served as an effective
deterrent from attack.
In 1644 Queen Henrietta Maria took shelter here previous to
her embarkation for the Continent.
The first real threat to the castle came in 1646 during the
Civil War, when, with a small force under the leadership of
the 86 year old Colonel John Arundel of Trerice, it withstood
a siege of 5 months. After losing about 300 men from
starvation, Arundel and the surviving 900 men surrendered.
They were granted full honours of war and marched out "with
colours flying, trumpets sounding, drums beating, matches
lighted at both ends, bullets in their mouths, and every
soldier twelve charges of powder".
(Saunders A: Exploring England's Heritage, Devon and Cornwall:
London: 1991-: 74 AND 75; Price M and H: Castles of Cornwall:
Bodmin: 1980-: 44-53; Spreadbury ID: Castles in Cornwall and
The Isles of Scilly: Redruth: 1984-: 42-51; Kelly: Kelly's
Directory for Cornwall: London: 1910-: 106).

Listing NGR: SW8243431784

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