When you visit a British castle you can sometimes be required to use a fair bit of imagination to picture the building as it should be – there’s often not a whole lot of building left. This is where Pendennis Castle really surprises; although it’s 500 years old the whole site is incredibly intact and all the more exciting for it.
Pendennis is the kind of castle a child might draw with turrets, a walled moat, huge canons and a 360 degree panoramic view over the sea. Across the water you can see St Mawes Castle, also built by Henry VIII and equally beautiful; the two castles bookend the mouth of the river and demonstrate just how important this area was to the monarchy back in Tudor times. Despite its ancient appearance, Pendennis was still performing a key defence role even in the 20th century, with the canons seeing action in the Napoleonic and Second World wars; all these layers of history are revealed as you explore the castle.
If you thought it was hard to make history fun for kids, think again. Pendennis is dynamically interactive, with some great hands-on displays and funky special effects that give you the sense of being part of the action during the castle’s heyday. The castle sits on a spit of land jutting into the sea and around the buildings are lawns in every direction, perfect for over-excited kids to burn off some energy. Dogs are allowed, so it really is a day for all the family.
You might be tempted to combine a visit to Pendennis with a potter around the shops of Falmouth, but there’s so much to see here that we recommend devoting a full day to the castle alone. With a castle museum, the Discovery Centre, the Half Moon Battery and the Victorian War Shelter to explore, the day will whizz by. Lunch in the tea room or a picnic in the grounds will give tired legs a rest. Free parking and a very reasonable entry fee mean Pendennis Castle can make a brilliant family day out without breaking the bank.
Castle Close, Falmouth TR11 4LP, Tel. 01326 316594