The castle was built as one of Henry VIII’s coastal gun forts, and the site continued in use as a military strongpoint up to the Second World War. Besides the original castle, the site includes substantial stone-built barracks buildings from more recent times. Suggested visit time: about 2 hours. There is plenty to look at, with sea views, and you could also take a boat trip across the estuary to visit St Mawes castle nearby.
This is a large area with several major attractions:
–HMS Victory – probably too famous to require any further comment from me.
–HMS Warrior – a fascinating survivor from the era when the Navy was changing from wooden sailing ships with broadsides to steel dreadnoughts with turret guns. She contains features from both the sail and steel eras. Personally I found her more interesting than the “Victory”
–Mary Rose – a famous early wreck raised in 1982 in full view of the television cameras. I found that viewing the ship – or rather its surviving half – was something of an anti-climax. Currently it’s not on display (Sept 2011), but there are historic relics and museum presentations to be seen in the Mary Rose museum.
–National Museum of the Royal Navy – I remember that there was so much stuff in here that I left without going all the way round. No doubt it’s been re-organised since my visit, and they now recommend allowing 1 ½ hours to see the four galleries.
–The Harbour – Boat trips, obviously.
– “Action Stations” – aimed at active youngsters.
Note that admission to the various Historic Dockyard attractions is now by one all-inclusive (and inevitably rather expensive) ticket. For terms and validity, including re-visits, see the website. Note that each major attraction also has its own website. To get maximum benefit you might need to spread your visit over more than one day.
One of the best-preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses. It is built in an interesting clover-leaf shape, and has been little altered. Be careful of headroom when exploring the upper parts – I banged my head so hard it felt like my neck had become shorter 🙂 It can be visited in conjunction with the larger Pendennis castle nearby, if you make a harbour ferry trip between the two.
A large and diverse collection of motor vehicles, from 1900 to 1990. Well worth a look if you are interested in viewing a large car collection.
They also have a full size replica of Captain Cook’s exploration ship “Endeavor”. The replica, designed to “enable children today the unique experience of seeing life as it was on these primitive ships”, is constructed of sheet plywood, and does not replicate the full hull depth. So if you are expecting a replica of authentic frame and plank construction, looking ready to put to sea, this isn’t it.
Noted for its world-famous 18th century landscape garden. There’s a lake, with temples, follies, exotic trees etc, set in a 2650 acre estate with downs, woods and farmland. The house has furniture and paintings. Suggested as half-day to all-day destination.
The church is situated on the National Trust’s Stowe Park estate, and a few yards from the far end of the school building. This is a working parish church, not a museum, but anyone is welcome to visit. The church is screened by trees, so if you have no idea where it is, head towards Grenville’s Column and watch out for signs. The church dates from the 13th century.
Mainly notable as the ancestral home of the Washingtons (=American president) in Britain. The house is some three centuries old and contains old furniture and artefacts. There is also a collection of George Washington memorabilia. If I remember correctly, there was some music and historical re-enactment going on when I visited.
Tate Gallery at St Ives is almost too well known to require a special write-up. Inside, there is a warren of galleries on several floors and it can take some time to find your way around. There’s a lot to see. If you are planning a special trip, note that the gallery is in the old town, the streets are narrow and the town is popular and crowded in summer. If you arrive by car, you are advised to park in a car park above the town and walk or take a bus to the old town. There are fine views from the rooftop cafe terrace. Outside the gallery, there are other private galleries you could visit, plus the beach, etc.
A former airfield, now one of the two sites of the RAF Museum. It’s near the railway, and many years ago when passing by, one could see some large parked aircraft from the train. Nowadays the collections are housed indoors, including some purpose-built buildings. Admission is free, though I recollect that they expect visitors to “check in”. It’s accessible by public transport. Access by car is easy, but note that there is now a charge for car parking. This is a large and diverse museum – they say it is impossible to see everything in one day. For more information check the museum’s website. An essential visit for those interested in military aviation.