St Michaels Mount, Cornwall - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
St Michael's Mount is a small tidal island in Mount's Bay, Cornwall.
The island is a civil parish and is linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water. The castle and chapel have been the home of the St Aubyn family since approximately 1650. The earliest buildings, on the summit, date to the 12th century.
Its Cornish language name – literally, "the grey rock in a wood" – may represent a folk memory of a time before Mount's Bay was flooded, indicating a description of the mount set in woodland. Remains of trees have been seen at low tides following storms on the beach at Perranuthnoe.
Historically, St Michael's Mount was a Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, when it was given to the Benedictine religious order of Mont Saint-Michel by Edward the Confessor in the 11th century.
There is evidence of people living in the area during the Neolithic period. A hoard of copper weapons, once thought to have been found on the mount, are now thought to have been found on nearby Marazion Marsh. Defensive stony banks on the north-eastern slopes are likely to date to the early 1st millennium BC, and are considered to be a cliff castle.
The mount is one of several candidates for the island of Ictis, described as a tin trading centre in the Bibliotheca historica of the Sicilian-Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC.
It may have been the site of a monastery in the 8th – early 11th centuries, and Edward the Confessor gave it to the Norman Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. It was a priory of that abbey until the dissolution of the alien houses as a side-effect of the war in France by Henry V, when it was given to the Abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex in 1424. Thus ended its association with Mont St Michel, and any connection with Looe Island (dedicated to the Archangel Michael). It was a destination for pilgrims, whose devotions were encouraged by an indulgence granted by Pope Gregory in the 11th century.
The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century and in 1275 an earthquake destroyed the original Priory Church, which was rebuilt in the late 14th century, remaining in use.
Sir Henry de la Pomeroy captured the mount, on behalf of Prince John, in the reign of King Richard I.
John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, seized and held it during a siege of twenty-three weeks against 6,000 of Edward IV's troops.
Perkin Warbeck occupied the mount in 1497. Sir Humphrey Arundell, Governor of St Michael's Mount, led the rebellion of 1549. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it was given to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, by whose son it was sold to Sir Francis Bassett. During the Civil War, Sir Arthur Bassett, brother of Sir Francis, held the mount against the Parliament until July 1646.
In 1755 the Lisbon earthquake caused a tsunami to strike the Cornish coast over 1,000 miles away. The sea rose six feet in ten minutes at St Michael's Mount, ebbed at the same rate, and continued to rise and fall for five hours.
By 1811 there were fifty-three houses and four streets. The pier was extended in 1821 and the population peaked, when the island had 221 people. There were three schools, a Wesleyan chapel, and three public houses, mostly used by visiting sailors. The village went into decline following major improvements to nearby Penzance harbour and the extension of the railway to Penzance in 1852
A short underground, funicular narrow gauge railway was built in Victorian times. It was used to bring luggage up to the house. It occasionally operates, but only for demonstration reasons and is not open to the general public. It is Britain's last functionally operational 4 ft 6 in railway.
In the late 19th century an anchorite's remains were discovered in a tomb within the mount's domestic chapel. The mount was sold in 1659 to Colonel John St Aubyn. As of 2016 his descendants, the Lords St Levan, remain seated at St Michael's Mount.
The mount was fortified during the Second World War during the invasion crisis of 1940–41.
Sixty-five years after the Second World War, it was suggested based on interviews with contemporaries that the former Nazi Foreign Minister and onetime Ambassador to London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had intended to live at the mount after the planned German conquest.