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Posted 28 August 2002 - 07:40 AM

Ennor Castle Ordnance Survey Map Reference SV 914102

Ennor Castle stands on the island of St. Mary's, the largest of the Isles of Scilly. It is the oldest of the Scilly castles (excluding those of Prehistoric age), and lies on the southern side of the island, in what is now known as Old Town. The name "Ennor" is a Cornish name, meaning "the land", and originally this referred to most of Scilly, the islands being ruled from this place. The castle is situated at the back of Old Town Bay, standing on a natural granite outcrop. This Norman castle, first mentioned in 1244, was the island's main defence in the Middle Ages. Apparently erected by the Earls of Cornwall, the only approach to the castle was from the east and south-east.

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Ennor Castle : Photo taken from the North-West , July 1999

In 1306, the castle was held by Ranulph de Blanchminster or Blankminster. He and his family were appointed constables of the castle, with the condition that in return, they maintain twelve men-at-arms, whose job it was to keep the peace in the area. The Blanchminsters, a well-known family from the West Country, were also granted the title of Lords of Scilly. The Crown required the Lords of Scilly to pay an annual fee of 300 puffins or 6s. 8d (puffins were considered to be fish rather than birds, their feathers being very valuable). The licence to crenellate Ennor Castle was not granted until 1315. In 1536, John Leland described Ennor as "a meatley strong pile". A garrison was maintained at Ennor during the reign of King Henry VIII, between 1544 and 1547. In 1554, an ordnance indicates that it was used as an armoury, being fortified with five light guns to defend Old Town Harbour and quay, the garrison numbering 150 men.

The defences of Ennor Castle were run down during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and it was used as a quarry to provide a cheap source of stone for the building of Star Castle in 1593. It was finally completely demolished in 1601, the stone being used to build the first quay in St. Mary's Pool. All that remains today is a single obtuse-angled dry-stone wall. The site is comprised of a semi-circular rock outcrop with a vertical face on its western side, and a narrow flattish top. The remains indicate that something similar to a shell-keep stood on the summit, with a polygonal courtyard, but with no signs of any accompanying bailey.

The site is overgrown with Mesembryanthemum, the flowers brightening up the outcrop in summer. The castle is on private land, and is best viewed from a distance. I found that the best view was from the Lower Moors Nature Trail, to the north-west of the site. However, with permission, it is possible to obtain a closer view by approaching through the field that lies to the north-west of the castle. Access to the castle on the south-eastern side is now blocked by a row of modern houses.

Bibliography

Gibson, Frank - My Scillonian Home - Beric Tempest & Co. Ltd., First Edition, 1980.
Kinross, John - Discovering Castles in England & Wales - Shire Publications Ltd., First Edition, 1973; Second Edition, 1984; Reprinted, 1990 & 1995.
Mumford, Clive - Portrait of the Isles of Scilly - Robert Hale & Co., First Edition, 1967; Second Edition, 1968; Third Edition, 1970; Reprinted, 1972 & 1976.
O'Neil, B.H. St. J. - Isles of Scilly - HMSO., First Edition, 1949; Second Edition, 1961; Seventh Impression, 1978.
Ratcliffe, Jean - Scilly's Archaeological Heritage - Twelveheads Press, First Edition, 1992; Second Impression with Minor Amendments, 1995.
Salter, Mike - The Castles of Devon & Cornwall - Folly Publications, First Edition, 1999.
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