Cromwell's Castle

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Cromwell Castle
Tresco in the Isles of Scilly
Cromwell's Castle
Cromwell Castle is located in Isles of Scilly
Cromwell Castle
Cromwell Castle
Coordinates grid reference SV881159
Type Gun tower
Site information
Controlled by English Heritage

Cromwell's Castle is a 17th-century fortification ("blockhouse") on the island of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, built after the invasion of the Isles by Sir Robert Blake in 1651. It was further expanded in 1739 during the War of Jenkins' Ear.


Cromwell's Castle is a coastal gun tower built by Sir Robert Blake following the Parliamentary invasion of the Isles of Scilly in 1651.[1] During the English Civil War between 1642 and 1646, the Isles had been Royalist supporters of King Charles I, and rebelled against Parliament in favour of Charles in 1648.[1] Tresco became a base for Royalist privateers and Parliament became concerned that the Dutch, then hostile to England, might exploit the situation.[2] In 1651 Parliament sent Robert Blake and a naval force to retake the island.[1]

Plan of the castle, ground floor (l), first floor (r): A - 18th century gun platform; B - guard house; C - latrines; D - 17th century tower

Having re-established control, Blake constructed Cromwell's Castle, named after Oliver Cromwell, the Parliamentary leader. The existing fort, King Charles's Castle, had been built in the 1550s but was poorly sited and had been largely blown up by its defenders when Blake's forces took the island.[3] The castle comprised a two-storey tower, 20-foot (6.1 m) wide and 50-foot (15 m) high, with walls 13-foot (4.0 m) thick.[2] Six gun-ports allowed the battery a good angle of fire across the channel between the islands of Bryher and Tresco.[2]

In 1739 the War of Jenkins' Ear broke out between Britain and Spain, and the decision was taken to improve the defences at Cromwell Castle.[4] A large gun-platform for a battery of six guns was built to the south-west of the tower, and other improvements were made.[2]

In the 21st century, the castle is controlled by English Heritage and operated as a tourist attraction. It is protected by law as a Grade II* listed building.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bowden, & Brodie 2011, p. 9
  2. ^ a b c d "History and Research: Cromwell's Castle". English Heritage. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Bowden, & Brodie 2011, p. 9; "History and Research: Cromwell's Castle". English Heritage. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Bowden, & Brodie 2011, p. 10
  5. ^ "Cromwell's Castle". Gatehouse. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  • Bowden, Mark; Brodie, Allan (2011). "Defending Scilly". Research News (16): 8–11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fry, Plantagenet Somerset (1980). The David & Charles Book of Castles. David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7976-3. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°57′42″N 6°21′02″W / 49.9616°N 6.3505°W / 49.9616; -6.3505