VISIT  PENDENMNIS  CASTLE  WITH ENGLISH  HERITAGE  MEMBERSHIP

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TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £11.30
Children 5-17 Years: £6.80
Families (2 adults, up to 3 Children): £29.40
Families (1 adult, up to 3 Children): £18.10

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Visiting Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle is an artillery castle situated atop a headland in Falmouth, Cornwall, England. It was constructed in the 1500s by Henry VIII, and was part of his defences to protect the Cornwall coast from invasion. Today, visitors can explore the site by booking a ticket through English Heritage.

Parking

On-site parking is available on Castle Drive. Follow the signs posted throughout Falmouth to find the Castle Drive Car Park.

Parking is free for both members and non-members.

Accessible parking is located in the rear of the Artillery Barracks. English Heritage recommends disabled visitors and those with limited mobility be dropped off at the entrance before parking.

 

Price

Admission prices for Pendennis Castle vary throughout the year. Special events may require an additional charge for both members and non-members. Please contact the site in advance to inquire about ongoing events for the date of your visit.

Visitors who purchase tickets online in advance (via the English Heritage website) are eligible for the advance-booking discount. Unfortunately, tickets purchased on-site are not eligible for this discount. 

To see the exact ticket prices for the date of your visit, view the Pendennis Castle calendar on the English Heritage website. Select the date of your visit to see the entrance fees.

For an example of pricing, the table below includes ticket prices on a Peak day in July (with the advance-booking discount included in the cost):

Pendennis Castle Ticket Prices - July - Peak

Ticket Type

With Donation

Without Donation

Members

Free

Free

Adult

£12.50

£11.30

Child (5-17 Years)

£7.50

£6.80

Student (with Valid ID)

£11.00

£10.00

Family (2 Adults, Up to 3 Children)

£32.50

£29.40

Family (1 Adult, Up to 3 Children)

£20.00

£18.10

Senior (65+)

£11.00

£10.00

 

Guests visiting from overseas can save on entry to Pendennis Castle and various other English Heritage sites by purchasing an Overseas Visitors Pass.

 

Opening

Pendennis Castle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may vary depending on the season and whether special or private events are occurring on-site. No tickets may be purchased less than an hour before closing time.

On Saturdays, Pendennis Castle may be closed for private events. Reach out to the site ahead of your visit to determine whether or not the castle is open to the public.

Weekends and bank holidays (particularly during the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) tend to be the busiest times, especially during the summer months. To avoid the crowd, it’s best to visit before 11 a.m. or after 2 p.m. on a non-peak weekday.

Location and Access

The physical address of Pendennis Castle is:

Falmouth

Cornwall

TR11 4LP

For satellite navigation, please enter the following coordinates:

  • Latitude: 50.146832
  • Longitude: -5.046738

 

Pendennis Castle is located just 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) southeast of the Falmouth town centre.

To access Pendennis Castle by vehicle, use Bar Road and Pendennis Rise. Other locations throughout the peninsula may access the castle using the A39.

While in Falmouth, it’s also possible to walk to Pendennis Castle, though it takes about 25 minutes from the centre. It’s easy to find, as there are various signs posted throughout the village. Keep in mind, however, that the majority of the walk is uphill.

Bus access from Falmouth to Pendennis Castle is available via the Falmouth Town Shuttle at the Pendennis Rise stop. This shuttle service runs daily. 

There are three train stations in Falmouth, but the nearest to Pendennis Castle is Falmouth Docks. From the station, it is about a 20-minute trek to the castle.

Know Before You Go

 

  • Beverages, light meals, and snacks are available in the tearoom. Pendennis Castle’s tearoom is located in the Royal Garrison Artillery Barracks. Here, guests can order from a selection of snacks, small meals, cakes, and beverages. Dairy-free and gluten-free options are available.

 

  • Picnics are welcome on-site. The grounds of Pendennis Castle feature many spacious, open, grassy areas. These spaces are perfect for enjoying a picnic, so don’t forget to pack a blanket.

 

  • Souvenirs are available for purchase. The Pendennis Castle gift shop has dozens of items for sale. These include gifts from the Tudor period and WWII. Various castle-themed souvenirs are available, including books, toys, and more.

 

  • Toileting facilities are available on-site. There are multiple restroom facilities at Pendennis Castle, including behind the gift shop and within the Royal Artillery Barracks. These facilities are accessible and also include baby-changing tables.

 

  • Dogs are permitted on the castle grounds and inside the buildings. This includes pets and service dogs. Canines must remain on leads and should be well-behaved. Dog bowls are placed throughout the castle grounds.

 

  • Pendennis Castle is available for event hires, educational events, and weddings. Whether you’re hosting a corporate event, private dinner, or elaborate wedding, Pendennis Castle is available to book. For more information, reach out to the site.


  • Some of the castle grounds are wheelchair and pushchair accessible. The outer perimeter and inner grassy areas are flat and relatively easy to explore. The first level of the Royal Artillery Barracks may be accessed by wheelchair users via a lift. However, the Keep requires climbing a spiral staircase and is not accessible.

 

  • Braille and large-print handouts are available. The blind or visually-impaired can enjoy the site by using the braille or large-print guides. Request these upon entrance to the castle.

 

  • There are two holiday cottages on-site available for booking. The Custodians House sleeps up to two people and Callies Cottage accommodates up to four people. For more information, view the English Heritage Holiday Cottages page.

 

  • Visitors are likely to come across on-site hazards. As with all centuries-old English Heritage sites, there are numerous hazards of which to remain mindful. These include deep water, trip hazards, sheer drops, steep slopes, slippery surfaces, old stairs, and uneven ground.



Pendennis Castle Events

Numerous events are hosted at Pendennis Castle throughout the year. These events include live jousts, knight tournaments, holiday celebrations, and educational activities. For more information on current and upcoming events, see the Pendennis Castle Events page on the English Heritage website.

Pendennis Castle Tours

Guided tours of the Half Moon Battery are available upon request, though they must be booked at least 30 days in advance. When booking a tour, guests must have at least 11 participants and a maximum of 25. Tours are subject to availability.

After booking your tour, you and your guests will arrive to meet your tour guide. The English Heritage staff member will walk guests through a 30-minute tour of the Half Moon Battery, constructed in 1894.

During the tour, visitors will witness an auditory reenactment of the work that occurred within the structure. Because of the limited access, loud sounds, and low lighting, this tour is not recommended for children, wheelchair users, or those with limited mobility.

Pendennis Castle Weddings

The 500-year-old artillery fort provides an enchanting backdrop for a civil wedding ceremony. Weddings take place in the Lower Gun Room, which accommodates up to 120 guests. This space includes a surrounding wall and private green area for receptions and socialising.

Decorations, such as tapestries, flowers, candles, and other decorative objects, may be used to transform the venue into the ideal wedding setting.

After guests are seated in the wooden pews on each side of the aisle of the Lower Gun Room, the bride enters by walking over a magnificent bridge before passing through a gorgeous arched entryway.

For more information on booking a wedding, please view the Weddings at Pendennis Castle page on the English Heritage website.

Pendennis Castle Hire

Pendennis Castle has multiple rooms and banquet areas perfect for corporate events or private parties. Those interested in booking the facility have the option to choose from one of the following rooms:


  • Lower Gun Room -  The Lower Gun Room provides a stunning castle atmosphere for your event, as well as a private grassy space. It can accommodate up to 120 people.


  • Royal Artillery Barracks - This modern space is ideal for corporate board meetings, receptions, or a networking event. Wheelchair accessible rooms and accessible toilets are available within the Royal Artillery Barracks.


  • Killigrew Room - The Killigrew Room is the largest room available. It’s perfect for large parties or gatherings. It can accommodate numerous guests for various purposes, including drinking, dining, dancing, and more.


  • Melvill Room - The Melvill Room is a gorgeous, naturally-lit room with a semi-formal feel. It boasts incredible seaside views and can accommodate up to 60 people.


  • Arundell Room - For a more laid-back environment, consider the Arundell Room. With its breathtaking views of the surrounding beaches, this is a great setting for a work meeting, holiday party, rehearsal dinner, or workshop for up to 60 guests.


For more information on booking Pendennis Castle for your event, please view the Pendennis Castle Private Party Hire page on the English Heritage website.

Places To Stay Nearby

The Falmouth Hotel

.6 km (.4 mi) west

The magnificent Falmouth Hotel sits in one of the highest-rated sections of Falmouth, Cornwall. Not only that, but it’s only a 3-minute drive or 11-minute walk from Pendennis Castle. The hotel features an on-site bar and restaurant, free WiFi, and in-room wardrobes. Twenty-four hour front desk service is offered and a breakfast buffet is served each morning.

Book

Premier Inn Truro Hotel

13.7 km (8.5 mi) north

The Truro Hotel has numerous amenities for guests, including on-site parking, free WiFi, a restaurant, and air-conditioned rooms. Double, twin, family, and accessible rooms are available, each including a TV, vanity, and tea and coffee facilities. The on-site restaurant has breakfast and dinner choices, and the option to purchase a meal deal to save on food during your stay. This hotel is about an 18-minute drive to Pendennis Castle via A39.

Book

Travelodge Camborne Redruth

22.9 km (14.2 mi) west

Travelodge Camborne Redruth is a budget accommodation with plenty of amenities. Here, guests can book a standard, family, or accessible room, each including air-conditioning, a television, a desk, and an en-suite bathroom. Guests enjoy free on-site parking and a convenient location near many attractions, including the magnificent coast and a World Heritage Gateway site. This hotel is about a 34-minute drive to Pendennis Castle via A39.

Book

History of Pendennis Castle 

Pendennis Castle acted as an artillery fort to protect the Carrick Roads and coastal towns. During its early days, it acted as a gun fort, but after threats of a Spanish invasion, received numerous upgrades, including bastions. These bastions were updated in the 1940s to serve as defences during World War II.

Time Line


- 1540 (Castle Built)

Henry VIII ordered the building of Pendennis Castle and St Mawes Castle around this time. Both castles are similar in structure, and were constructed as a precaution due to the possibility of an invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire.

- 1569 (War with Spain)

After Spain and England began fighting a war, additional defences were added to Pendennis Castle, including a new gun battery and earthworks.

- 1574-1588 (Castle Garrisoned)

During its early days, Pendennis Castle held a garrison of up to 100 men at a time. When the Spanish threatened to invade (in 1574, 1579, 1588), it was fully garrisoned with up to 200 men.

- 1590s (Spanish Attacks)

In 1593, the Spanish raided and destroyed the Killigrews’ home. Two years later, a Spanish fleet sailed to the coast, where they caused significant damage to many of the coastal towns. By 1596 and 1597, the threat from Spain was increasing. Although a significant assault never materialised (England was spared due to poor weather conditions), Elizabeth I saw the need for an upgrade to the castle’s defences.

- 1600 (Additional Defences Added)

By the early 1600s, additional defences were added to fortify Pendennis Castle. This included the construction of ramparts, earthworks, embrasures, bastions, and the creation of a ditch.

- 1611 (Gatehouse Added)

Although things were relatively peaceful for some time, a gatehouse was constructed on the site.

- 1624-1627 (More Defences)

After tensions once again increased between Spain and England, more bastions and weaponry were added.

- 1646 (The Great Siege)

During the First Civil War, Royalists garrisoned Pendennis Castle. When Parliamentarian forces came to seize the fort, 1,000 Royalist soldiers and their families held the site for five months. After running out of supplies, the Royalists surrendered.

- 1700 (New Barracks and Gateway)

After the First Civil War, Pendennis Castle didn’t see any major military attacks. However, a garrison was still maintained within the castle and additional defences were added, including Guard Barracks and a castle gateway.

- 1714 (Castle in Disrepair)

Pendennis Castle was reportedly in very bad shape, so Colonel Christian Lilly recommended multiple repairs.

- 1732-1739 (Repairs Carried Out)

The suggested repairs were carried out two decades later. New guns were installed, the rampart was repaired, and new buildings were constructed.

- 1775-1780 (Half Moon Battery Built)

A new barracks was erected on the site of Pendennis Castle by the Miner’s Militia, along with a hospital, the Half Moon Battery, and various store buildings.

- 1815 (Neglect)

Once again, Pendennis Castle fell into a state of disrepair after Napoleon lost the war.

- 1850s (Back To War)

As tensions began to rise yet again between England and France, Pendennis was prepared for military action by adding more powerful weapons.

- 1880-1902 (Defences Improved)

As military technology advanced, Pendennis Castle saw many upgrades to its weapons and defences. This included an underwater minefield, a deep gun, range-finders, searchlights, and communication devices. The new defences meant the need for a regular staff, so a new barracks was erected to house the 105th Regiment Royal Garrison Artillery.

- 1914-1918 (First World War)

Pendennis Castle acted as a command centre for coastal defences in Cornwall.

- 1939 (World War II)

Additional weapons and defences were added during World War II. This included the latest gun models, complete with radar control. Many temporary buildings were added, as well as a bigger command post.

 - Post WWII-1956

The castle was used for military training operations. These operations ceased in 1956.

- 1957 (Ministry of Works)

After World War II, Pendennis Castle would see no additional military activity. After military training stopped, it was transferred to the Ministry of Works and opened to the public as a tourist attraction. Later, it was managed by English Heritage, the organisation it remains under today.

Pendennis Castle Occupants

 

  • 1539-1540s: Henry VIII ordered the construction of the artillery fort (in addition to St. Mawes Castle) to protect the English coast from invasion. John Killigrew was the first captain of the castle, and the Killigrew family controlled it for decades.
  • 1590s: Elizabeth I upgraded the fort by adding the outer perimeter wall.
  • 1646: Charles II and his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, occupied Pendennis Castle for a short time before leaving on a journey to the Isles of Scilly.
  • 1902: The 105th Regiment of the Royal Garrison Artillery lived at Pendennis Castle.
  • 1906: A young couple, the Emerys, lived at Pendennis Castle among the 105th Regiment. They had a young son who also stayed on the site. He would later be found in the dungeon, nearly starving.

 

Pendennis Castle Architecture

General Layout

Pendennis Castle was built primarily for defence. The artillery fortress boasts a curtain wall and rounded keep, and utilised man-made fortifications as its main defence. However, its strategic location also acted as a natural defence.

The structure sits atop a headland on a peninsular edge, a prime position for protecting the mouth of the River Fal and Cornwall’s vital sea routes.

Original Layout

King Henry VIII ordered the construction of the fort to protect the Carrick Roads. The land upon which the castle was constructed was leased from the Killigrew family.

Keep

Building started with the circular four-storey keep, which remains the primary focal point of the fortress. The keep is 17.5 metres (57.4 feet) in diameter, and surrounded by a spacious grassy area (chemise). The outer perimeter is protected by a thick curtain wall.

Though it is rounded on the outside, the interior of the tower has an octagonal shape.

Visitors would access the keep via a bridge and forebuilding. The forebuilding still boasts the original portcullis hole and notches for a long-forgotten drawbridge. Gargoyles still guard the structure.

The keep’s basement included a kitchen, dungeon (or underground chamber), and a larder. At the ground level was a gun room, but this area was later used as a living accommodation. To access the first floor of the keep (which acted as a gun room), visitors would use a spiral staircase. On top of the keep’s roof stood additional guns and a turret.

Castle Grounds

Surrounding the keep was a large pentagonal space. When Queen Elizabeth I was in power, enhancements were completed around the castle, including the addition of ramparts (that dropped into the ditch below) and bastions. The East Bastion provided access to the underground gun batteries as well as a war shelter.

Additional structures included two barracks for the guards, a granite-faced Board of Ordnance building, and a brick storehouse. 

Gun Batteries

Coastal batteries were built on the site of Pendennis Castle during World War I and World War II. This was in response to the increasing threat of attacks along the coast.

At the south end of the castle grounds stood a building for portable weaponry. The same area included the One-Gun Battery that housed the infamous “disappearing gun.” This gun slid beneath a steel plate, allowing the gunners to reload it while remaining shielded from opposing gunfire.

The Half Moon Battery featured numerous six-inch guns. During World War II, an additional post was built to operate these weapons.

Little Dennis

On the shoreline is “Little Dennis,” a Tudor gun battery. At the time of its construction, it featured a wooden roof with a strong gun platform.

Modern Layout

Today, only five of the six original bastions remain at Pendennis Castle. In addition, the ditch surrounding the structure is filled in some areas.

The small 1800s shed once used to store mobile guns looks much different than it would have appeared in its heyday, as it has undergone numerous renovations. However, the first floor of the keep is decorated as it would have looked shortly after its initial construction.

In the Half Moon Battery, visitors can see replicas of the weapons used in the battery during World War II.

Little Dennis,” the shoreline gun battery, no longer has its original wooden roof. However, the embrasures can still be seen today.

Images of Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle Pendennis Castle Pendennis Castle
Pendennis Castle Pendennis Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

What Can I See During Visit to Pendennis Castle?


  • Go on a guided tour of the Half Moon Battery. Tours must be booked in advance, but it’s an exciting way to explore this historic site. The tour lasts approximately 30 minutes, and explores the history of the structure, complete with an audio reenactment.
  • Explore the interactive exhibit. The Pendennis Castle exhibit takes visitors on a trip through time, covering the castle’s history, its occupants, and economic links. The exhibition includes tactile models, memorabilia, letters, weapons, and other artefacts.
  • View the wartime cartoons. George Butterworth, a famous cartoonist, drew dozens of wartime cartoons in the 1940s. These cartoons were regularly shared in newspapers, and poked fun at infamous leaders, including Hitler.
  • Take in the coastal views. A spiral staircase takes visitors to the roof of the Keep, where they can view incredible panoramic views. Because Pendennis Castle sits atop a rocky headland on a peninsula, it offers breathtaking views of the River Fal and Carrick Roads. Visitors can also see various ships and other vessels on the sea, and observe numerous types of wildlife.
  • See the historic weaponry. As an artillery fort, Pendennis Castle once boasted dozens of guns throughout the site. Today, gun displays are located throughout the castle, including those from Tudor, Napoleonic, and Victorian times, as well as weapons from World War II.
  • Relax while your children enjoy the play area. Pendennis Castle has an indoor play area for children ages 5 or younger. This play space sits near the cafe, so guardians can relax and enjoy a beverage while watching their kids.

Pendennis Castle Facts

 

  1. In 1906, a young boy was found starved in the castle dungeon. A sergeant wandering the castle entered an underground chamber where he found an obviously malnourished boy, no older than 3 years old. As it turns out, the child had been left there to die by his foster parents, the Emerys, who lived in the castle with the 105th Regiment of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The boy was later adopted by a loving family.
  2. After running out of food during the siege, Royalists began eating their pets. During the First Civil War, Parliamentarian forces attacked Pendennis Castle, but it would take five months before the Royalists would surrender. However, this was only after they had run out of provisions and resorted to eating their horses and dogs.
  3. Staff and visitors say there are numerous spirits wandering the fort. Although most of the alleged hauntings are auditory (including screams, footsteps, and children’s laughter), some claim to have seen soldiers, a maid, and a castellan wandering the grounds.
  4. Pendennis Castle’s guns could be shot from nearly every direction at multiple different heights. This was due to the rounded four-storey tower. In addition, its sister castle (St Mawes) sat opposite Pendennis, and allowed for overlapping fire between the two forts.

Pendennis Castle Q&A

Do You Have to Pay To Go to Pendennis Castle?

You must pay an admission fee to enter Pendennis Castle. Prices vary depending on the season and type of ticket purchased. English Heritage members get in for free. Students and seniors (65+) pay the concessions price. Family passes are available for adults with children.

What Is Pendennis Castle Famous For?

Pendennis Castle is famous for being England’s best example of a coastal artillery fort. The ruins and remnants of buildings and weapons left behind showcase the evolution of military technology from the 1500s to the 1940s.

What Happened to the Pendennis Castle?

After the end of World War II, Pendennis Castle no longer required a full staff. However, it remained in use by the military for training purposes until 1956. In 1957, it was placed under the care of the Ministry of Works. It was then opened as a tourist destination.

How Old is Pendennis Castle?

Pendennis Castle is 483 years old, as of 2023. The fortress was constructed over the course of six years, between 1539 and 1545, under the orders of Henry VIII. He built the castle as part of a defensive measure to protect the Cornwall coast from an invasion.

Location of Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle sits just southeast of Falmouth in Cornwall, England. Falmouth is a moderately-sized town, with a population of over 21,000 residents.

During its heyday, Falmouth was a bustling port town and experienced significant activity from the sea. Although its maritime action has declined over the city’s lifetime, Falmouth still sees a significant contribution to its economy thanks to its docks.

In addition to being the largest port in Cornwall, the town also acts as a popular tourist destination, in part due to its five beaches. 

Falmouth is home to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and various festivals.

The Britain Sunday Times once listed Falmouth as one of the “Best Places to Live.”

Other Places To Visit Near Pendennis Castle

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is a mediaeval stone and rubble castle in North Cornwall. It sits 79.8 kilometres (49.6 miles) from Pendennis Castle, about a one-and-a-half hour drive via A39. The fortress has long been linked to King Arthur, often referred to as the place where the King was conceived.

St. Mawes Castle

St. Mawes Castle was another artillery fortress constructed under King Henry VIII as part of his coastal defences. Like Pendennis Castle, St. Mawes is well-preserved. The elaborate decorations make this castle a must-see. It’s located approximately 27.8 kilometres (17.3 miles) from Pendennis Castle, about a 50-minute drive via B3289 and A39.

Restormel Castle

Restormel Castle is a Norman shell keep fortification located in Cornwall. Out of the several Norman castles in the area, Restormel is considered unique due to its perfectly rounded structure. The castle sits among beautiful English countryside and overlooks the River Fowey. It is located about 65.2 kilometres (40.5 miles) from Pendennis Castle, about a one hour drive via A30 and A39.

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