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Characterful Old Town is believed to be the oldest settlement on the island of St. Mary's
Situated a short distance to the south of the island's capital, Hugh Town, the village has a church, an inn, the Old Town Inn, two cafes and a village store. The white sandy beach at Old Town is safe for swimming and easily accessed.Old Town is a popular tourist location and is only a short distance from the island's airport.
The Old Town Inn is located in the quieter area of Old Town and is just a few minutes walk from Old Town Bay. It boasts open fires and all sorts of nautical and interesting memorabilia. The inn serves home cooked meals with an added fish specials board in season.
On a small but prominent knoll on the east side of the broad Lower Moors valley behind Old Town Bay stand the fragmentary remains of a small shell keep castle dating from the thirteenth or fourteenth century, known as Ennor Castle. The earliest recorded mention of the castle dates to 1244. Ranulf de Blanchminster held the castle in 1306. A royal licence to crenellate was granted to Ranulf in 1315 but in 1337, the castle along with the rest of Scilly, was included in the lands of the newly created Duchy of Cornwall. Ennor Castle was rendered redundant after the construction of Star Castle at Hugh Town in the late sixteenth century.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin
OS grid reference:- SV911101
The small picturesque church of St Mary the Virgin stands in a beautiful setting overlooking Old Town Bay.
The present building is all that remains of the Norman cruciform church constructed in around 1130. Reconstruction was carried out in 1660 and includes 5 rectangular windows. A gallery was added for the soldiers from the Garrison at the Hugh, the supports for which are still visible at the back of the church. The round-headed arch and pillar in the north wall dates to the Norman era. There is small thirteenth century cross on the east gable.
By the nineteenth century, it had become derelict and was restored by Augustus Smith, Lord Proprietor of the Islands. The building has no electricity supply and services are conducted by candlelight.
The adjoining cemetery features a monument to Augustus Smith (1804-1872) founder of Tresco Abbey Garden, as well as mass graves of passengers drowned in the sinking of SS Schiller and Sir John Narborough and his brother James, the sons of Rear Admiral Sir John Narborough,and stepsons of Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell who both lost their lives in the sinking of HMS Association in the 1707 Scilly Naval Disaster. Harold Wilson, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx who served as Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976, also lies buried there.