Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tudor history on the Fal estuary

Biohydromet ’12 is only two months away, and is already attracting a large international audience to Falmouth.

I open every MEI Conference in Falmouth with a brief background to the unique history of Cornwall and how it has, over the centuries, retained its original Celtic roots.

English history is colourful and bloody, and none more so than in the Tudor era. Falmouth lies on the estuary of the beautiful River Fal and perched on the headland only 15 minutes walk from the conference venue is the Tudor fort Pendennis castle, built around 1540 as one of a series of castles running along the south west coast of England on the orders of England’s most famous and grotesque kings, Henry VIII, who most people know had 6 wives, two of whom were executed, including Anne Boleyn, the mother of another famous monarch Elizabeth I.

In order to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry had to renounce Catholicism in order to divorce his Spanish queen Catherine of Aragon, so the threat of invasion from catholic France and Spain was imminent. The invasion did eventually take place during the reign of Elizabeth, but Pendennis Castle saw no action during the Tudor dynasty.

The Little Dennis blockhouse on the Fal estuary
On the first evening of every conference in Falmouth, I take delegates on a guided coastal path walk, which takes in part of the castle on the Fal Estuary and then we skirt the outer moat en route to a welcome beer in old Falmouth.

The main castle is well worth a visit if you have an hour or so to spare during the conference period. Set high on the headland it offers panoramic views of Falmouth Bay, and looks across to its sister castle across the river at St. Mawes.

The River Fal and St. Mawes from Pendennis Castle

The castle has a Discovery Centre, which allows visitors to explore the fascinating history of the castle, complete with interactive displays and activities, including an exhibit on Tudor battles.


  1. I can also vouch that a trip round the castle is a good day out, and there is more info here:

  2. Barry, thanks for this piece of interesting history. I suggest you could as well also add the famous drink "Bloody Mary" refers to Mary, Henry the Eight's Catholic daughter who became Queen of England and made it a crime to be Protestant. Englishmen who refused to be Catholic were burned at the stake. More than 300 perished that way! Fathi Habashi


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