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Hugh Town




OS grid reference :- SV 901108

Characterful and colourful Hugh Town, the major and largest settlement on the Isles of Scilly, is situated between St. Mary's Pool and Port Cressa on the island of St. Mary's, largest of the Scilly Isles.

Known in Cornish as Tre Huw, the town lies on a narrow isthmus which joins the peninsula known as the Garrison with the rest of the island. The main street is the main shopping area on the islands and business is reliant on tourism. There are also banks, hotels, pubs and a small hospital. There are several beaches.

The town's crooked main street is lined with stone houses, the church was built in 1835, in the pointed style, with a tower, and has memorials to those who perished in the wreck of three men of war, in October 1707. In the aftermath of the Civil War Hugh Town gave shelter to Prince Charles (later King Charles II) until his escape to Jersey in 1646.

Star Castle, which overlooks the town, is now a hotel. The castle dates to Elizabethan times and was built by Francis Godolphin, who leased the islands from Queen Elizabeth I in 1571. The castle was constructed shortly after the Spanish Armada as a lookout post to protect south-west England. Built in the shape of an eight-pointed star, it has lots of nooks and crannies, deep ramparts, and is surrounded by a dry moat. The Garrison Walls around the west side of St. Mary's have a fascinating history that reaches back 350 years. The first stretch of curtain wall was constructed in 1588, following the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

The principal harbour of the islands is located on the northern edge of the town and is the terminal of the ferry to Penzance. The original quay was constructed in 1593 and an extension began in 1836 to Rat Island under a contract of 4,000 to William Martin of Penzance. Martin resigned in November 1837 and Augustus Smith, then proprietor of the Islands, organised the completion.

On the south side of Hugh Town lies Porthcressa Beach a popular spot for sunbathing and swimming. The old lifeboat house was built in 1874 and used only until 1899, to house the lifeboat that was used to rescue from the beach.

Harry's Walls, the remains of an unfinished artillery castle, are situated on a hilltop to the north-east of Hugh Town. The fort was constructed in 1551 as part of a major phase of fortification on the Islands, designed to counter threats from the French. It was left unfinished because the site was recognised to be unsuitable. The Garrison Gate dates back to the early seventeenth century when the length of the curtain wall from coast to coast across the neck of the Garrison was constructed. It was remodelled and the bell-tower added in the 1740's by Abraham Tovey, the Master Gunner, whose initials may be seen on one of the plaques over the gateway. The other plaque has the initials of King George II.

Towns and Villages