I’m a real fan of British history, with a soft spot for castles and stately homes. We decided to visit Pedennis Castle for one of their child friendly Legendary Joust days that run throughout the summer.
Pendennis Castle (Cornish – Penn Dinas, meaning Headland Fortification) now belongs to the English Heritage. It was built on the say so from Henry VIII between 1540 and 1542 as part of extensive defence preparations. Its primary purpose was to protect against invasion from France and the Roman Empire. Pendennis Castle was expanded at the end of the century following increasing threat from Spain.
Pendennis Castle sits on Falmouth’s coast, at Pendennis Point, offering a 180 degree view of Cornwall’s fabulous coastline. On one side, it’s possible to see The Roseland Peninsula and St Anthony Head, St Mawes and St Mawes Castle. On the other side of Pendennis Castle, Falmouth’s neighbour, Flushing, is visible, as is Swanpool.
It’s worth visiting just for the views alone!
In Pendennis Castle
Pendennis castle isn’t massive. Let’s face it, it was built for defence rather than habitation. That said, it’s is a good place to explore with children.
Like St Mawes castle on the opposite headland, Pendennis Castle has strong links with World War II as one of the main defence positions, so aside from all the 16th century history there’s some war shelters and gun forts to check out. We quite enjoyed pretending to plot positions in one outbuilding, and assuming red alert was imminent!
Once in the castle, we wasted no time climbing the slender, winding stairs, taking us to the top.
As you can imagine, the views are better than ever. There’s cannons in situ (loads of them, in fact) and snippets of information on offer about Pendennis Castle’s history.
Mediaeval Jousting and Entertainment
While jousting was on the menu, it wasn’t the only event on offer.
There was an impressive falconry display, medieval coronations, and some medieval music action. These were mostly interactive activities, giving children the chance to try medieval instruments and be part of traditional celebrations.
The archery lessons were a hit too. Obviously archery is pretty cool anyway but the men who were offering the lessons kept up the comedic medieval spirit throughout.
Similarly, at different points in the day there were opportunities to take part in a sword fight. The kids loved it, and it didn’t take long for the spirit of the event to take hold. Naturally it offered an opportunity for them to let off a bit of steam and get a bit competitive. And despite what he says, my son didn’t beat me!
In preparation for the jousting, which took part in the late afternoon, we watched the Mounted Skill at Arms at lunchtime. Here the knights took part in a series of challenges obviously to prove who was the best, and who was most likely to win the joust. I think it was the medieval equivalent to boxers having a stare off before a fight. The challenges involved them trying to get a cabbage (medieval polo, maybe?) and secure other objects.
The jousting was worth staying for too. It’s drew a crowd at the end of the day, with suspense, gasps and clapping coming from the spectators.
We left Pendennis Castle feeling tired from all the action and fresh air but satisfied that we’d experienced a day out with a difference.
If you’re in Falmouth and would like further inspiration, how about a day trip on the River Fal to St Mawes from Falmouth?