We believe this is even more beautiful than Mont St Michel, it's more famous cousin. There is evidence of people living in the area during the Neolithic (from circa 4000 to 2500 BCE years). The key discovery was of a leaf-shaped flint arrowhead, which was found in a shallow pit on the lower eastern slope, now part of the modern gardens. Other pieces of flint have been found, and at least two could be Mesolithic (circa 8000 to 3500 BCE). During the Mesolithic, Britain was still attached to mainland Europe via Doggerland, and archaeologist and prehistorian Caroline Malone noted that during the Late Mesolithic, the British Isles were something of a "technological backwater" in European terms, still living as a hunter-gatherer society whilst most of southern Europe had already taken up agriculture and sedentary living. At this time the Mount would likely to have been an area of dry ground surrounded by a marshy forest.
It may have been the site of a monastery in the 8th to early 11th centuries when 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 (Alien Priories were small dependencies of foreign religious houses, especially English possessions of French religious houses) by Henry V, when it was given to the abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex. It was a resort of 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. It is still in use today. The priory was seized by the Crown, when Henry V went to war in France and it became part of the endowment for the Brigittine Abbey of Syon at Twickenham in 1424. Thus ended the connection with Mont St Michel.
The Mount has seen a lot of action. Henry 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 in 1473. Perkin Warbeck occupied the Mount in 1497. 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 (1,600 km) 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. The 19th-century French writer Arnold Boscowitz claimed that "great loss of life and property occurred upon the coasts of Cornwall." In the late 19th century the skeleton of an anchorite was discovered when a chamber was found beneath the castle's chapel. When the anchorite died of illness or natural causes, the chamber had been sealed off to become his tomb. The Mount was sold in 1659 to Colonel John St Aubyn. His descendant, Lord St Levan, continues to be the "tenant" of the Mount but has ceased to be resident there, his nephew, James St Aubyn, taking up residency and management of the Mount in 2004.
Little is known about the village before the beginning of 18th century, save that there were a few fishermen's cottages and monastic cottages. After improvements to the harbour in 1727, St Michael's Mount became a flourishing seaport, and by 1811 there were fifty-three houses and four streets. The pier was extended in 1821 and the population peaked in the same year, 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, and many of the houses and buildings were demolished. 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. It is Britain's last operating Scotch gauge railway. The Mount was fortified during the Second World War during the invasion crisis of 1940–41. Three pillboxes can be seen to this day.
Sixty-five years after the Second World War, it was suggested based on interviews with contemporaries that the former Nazi foreign minister and one time ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had wanted to live on the Mount after the planned German conquest. Archived documents revealed that during his time in Britain in the 1930s, in which he had initially proposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, Ribbentrop frequently visited Cornwall. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to take a wheelchair up to the Mount summit and if you are walking, sensible footwear is recommended. Mobility toilet - at eastern end of harbour, opposite cemetery. There is an induction loop. The grounds are mostly accessible with some cobbles. Wheelchair users (with folding wheelchairs) can take the boat across to the Mount at high tide. However, access to both the mainland and harbour landing points has steps to negotiate. Adapted disability vehicles can be driven over to the Mount at low tide to transport wheelchair users. Please contact them in advance to arrange this 01736 710265. Those with limited mobility are recommended to use the causeway at low tide. It’s possible to bring wheelchairs over the causeway, although it is cobbled, so it can be difficult to navigate.
Location : Marazion, Cornwall, TR17 0HS
Transport: Penzance (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 2, 17B, 18C and 515 stop at Marazion from Penzance. Ferry from Penzance Harbour at High Tide.
Opening Times : Sunday to Friday 10:30 to 17:30.
Tickets : Adults £12.50; Child £6.00
Tel: 01736 710265