St Michael's Mount
Discover the island dedicated to the archangel St Michael
St Michael's Mount
According to the legend, the archangel St Michael appeared on the Mount in the year 495 ad. In the New Testament, the archangel leads God’s forces against the dark armies of Satan. The archangel St Michael defeats the terrible troops of Satan, a scene depicted in many epic works of art.
When the Normans who conquered England in 1066, were struck by their Mont-St-Michel's similarity in Normandy. The Normand invaders invited the monks from France to build a small monastery here, which later became absorbed into the fortress.
The Mount became a thriving community of over 300 Islanders by the 1800s’. Now around 30 inhabitants are living either in the castle or village and harbour. Join us on a tour of England’s South Coast to Cornwall and visit St Michael’s Mount. We can customise an itinerary for you that includes the fine Cornish coast.
The legendary giants island
A brief history of St Michael’s Mount
Anything beautiful or unusual generates stories, fairy-tales and legends, St Michael’s Mount is no different in that respect. It is an inspirational place and provokes creativity, as does the whole of Cornwall.
The most famous story is that of a giant called Cormoran. This tormented creature would wade ashore and gather earth, rocks and livestock to create his island lifestyle. Cormoran terrorised mainlanders by steeling and generally being a horror. Then, one night a brave young lad called Jack snuck over to the Mount and dug an enormous hole. At daybreak, Jack blows his horn to wake the giant. Cormoran came charging down the Mount with the sun in his eyes; he could not see Jack, or the hole, which he promptly fell in. Jack quickly fills the void with earth and rock. Jack is a hero and now known as Jack-the-Giant-Killer.
Roman historians believed the island was called 'Ictis' and a centre of the tin trade in ancient times. There may have been a monastic community in the 8th Century. Still, certainly after the Norman invasion, Benedictine monks from France built a more substantial priory. Eventually, a castle was added by the 12th Century.
The Mount has been under siege several times during the Wars of the Roses, England’s real Game of Thrones story. John de Vere, earl of Oxford, took control of the Mount and then proceeded to hold the castle for 23 weeks against the formidable forces of King Edward IV, who’s troops numbered 6,000. What a sight that would have been.
In 1659, the Bassett family sold the Mount to Colonel John St Aubyn, and the island has been in the family ever since. Fast forward to the Victorian age, and the financial situation seemed buoyant enough to invest in the old castle and priory. The project began to remodel and produce a great mansion house.
In 2003, James and Mary St Aubyn moved to the island with their four children and inherited the title Lord and Lady St Levan when James’s uncle past away in 2013.
The village and harbour
There is a small but active and thriving community on the island today. Still, it is strange to think that there were 300 people, 53 houses, four streets, pubs and a harbour crowded with fishermen boats. Further back in time the port may have welcomed ships with traders from Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon) buying tin.
The buildings of the past have changed use; the old blacksmith forge is a shop, and the island laundry is now a café. We can arrange guided tours of the island from here. Hear about the past and what life is like on the island today.
The garden and castle
It's astonishing that anything lives on this giant rock, think of the winter storms, and the sea salt lashing the cliffs. It is a warming gulf stream that Britain enjoys and makes our weather bizarrely lovely, especially considering the latitude of southern Britain. With that said, the plants at St Michael’s thrive. The rock helps the garden by absorbing the suns energy during the day and radiating the warmth at night, creating a micro-climate.
Like many gardens in the mild south-west of England, exotic and tender plants do well with hot spots in the gardens reaching 35c (95F) in July. Spend time here, enjoying the sea breezes and admire the rare and colourful plants.
The castle is a mix of Victorian gothic interwoven with the medieval ecclesiastical architecture of different periods. Stroll through the historical rooms with portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds, spot a mummified cat! See old armour and hear the stories of ghosts, giants and siege warfare. It is all such great fun.
Touring and accommodation
Cornwall is full of unusual gardens, dramatic coastlines, pretty fishing villages and world-class beaches. Visit the Eden Project, housing a huge jungle under biomes. Cotehele House and Gardens is a very different place with terraced gardens encircling an old Cornish house. Trebah Gardens has a vast collection of exotic plants and trees that lead down to a beauty little bay.
Stay at Hotel Tresanton in the heart of St Mawes, a pretty fishing village on the south coast. There is a wide choice of accommodation in the UK; Cottages, Manor House Hotels and traditional Guest Houses. The Idle Rocks Hotel also in St Mawes is a fabulous boutique establishment with award winning restaurant.
Cornwall is great for multi-generation family groups because there is a variety of things to do. Let us help you create the itinerary that is perfect for you. Our suggested Family Experience of Cornwall is a start. We have created a coastal tour; England's South Coast Tour. Our tour-designers will help create your driver-guided tour of England trouble-free.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands.
Visit the House on the Isle
Discover the life of the thirty islanders and hear their tales
- VIP Tours Available
- Visit the Gardens
- Tour the Castle
- Private Boat Trips Available
Sunset over St Michael's Mount
The Gardens Clinging to the Cliffs
The Castle on the Mount
St Michael's Mount from the Mainland
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.