St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

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For other uses, see Saint Agnes (disambiguation).
St. Agnes
Cornish: Aganas
St. Agnes map.png
A map of St. Agnes with Gugh to the east.
St. Agnes is located in Isles of Scilly
St. Agnes
St. Agnes
 St. Agnes shown within Isles of Scilly
Population 73 (2001)
OS grid reference SV881430
Unitary authority Isles of Scilly
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ISLES OF SCILLY
Postcode district TR22
Dialling code 01720
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Isles of Scilly
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament St Ives
List of places
UK
England
Cornwall

Coordinates: 49°53′28″N 6°20′35″W / 49.891°N 6.343°W / 49.891; -6.343

St Agnes (Cornish: Aganas off-island) is the southernmost populated island of the Isles of Scilly, England.

Description[edit]

The sandbar from St. Agnes to Gugh

St. Agnes joins the island of Gugh by a tombolo, a kind of sandbar, called the Gugh Bar, which is exposed only at low tide. The two islands together have the smallest population of the Scilly archipelago, with 73 residents recorded in the 2001 census, and a landmass of 366 acres (148 ha).

In earlier times many men from St Agnes earned a living as pilots, guiding transatlantic liners and other vessels through the English Channel. Now the mainstay of the economy is tourism, together with some bulb farming. Accommodation is limited, and St Agnes is the only populated island in the Isles of Scilly which has no hotel. However, it has a few B&Bs and self-catering cottages, an ice cream shop, a campsite, a small post office general store and a gift shop. It also has a pub (the Turk's Head) and a cafe, although these are closed in the winter.

The main population centre is in the north and middle of the island. The southern end of the island is covered by the heather moorland of Wingletang Down.

Lighthouse[edit]

The island's most notable landmark is its lighthouse, which has been converted into living accommodation and the tower no longer contains a light. In 1680 Trinity House began a survey of the coasts of England as it was known that the contemporary charts were inaccurate; the Isles of Scilly was plotted ten miles to the north. Trinity House was also given permission to erect and maintain one or more lighthouses on the islands. St Agnes was chosen as it is the most westerly of the inhabitable islands and close to the collection of rocks, tidal flows and currents, now known as the Western Rocks.[1] It was built in 1680 and was coal fired until 1790, when it was converted to oil, with copper lamps and twenty-one revolving reflectors. A plaque records the original construction by Captains Hugh Hill and Simon Bayly, builders of the 1676 Lowestoft lighthouse. There were two protests against the building of the St Agnes light. Officials from the Isle of Wight complained that they would lose revenue from harbour dues and victualling as shipping would prefer to use the Isles of Scilly, and the Govenor of Scilly on the grounds that he would lose money from wrecks![1]

The lighthouse of 1680
The Turk's Head, the only pub on St. Agnes
A rock formation on the south west side of St. Agnes that looks like an elephant
Periglis Cottage, home of Hilda M. Quick

The St. Agnes lighthouse was the second to be built in the western approaches (after the Lizard lighthouse of 1619). It stands 74' above the ground, and 138' above mean high water. It was superseded in 1911 by the Peninnis Lighthouse and St Agnes lighthouse now serves as a daymark for shipping. Peninnis lighthouse is a 17 metre tall black and white steel lattice tower situated on the southern extremity of St. Mary's island. The range was reduced from 17Nm to 9Nm under the Trinity House 2010 Aids to Navigation review. The light source employed is now LED.[2][3]

Other landmarks[edit]

Other landmarks include a standing stone known as the Nag's Head (probably a natural formation) and the so-called "Troytown Maze" a pebble maze thought to be of medieval date. In 1707, many of the sailors who had drowned in the great naval disaster off the Isles of Scilly were reputedly buried on the St Agnes playing field.[4]

Church[edit]

See St. Agnes' Church, St. Agnes.

Sporting and social life[edit]

Friday evenings in the summer (end of April until start of October) see men's domestic Cornish Pilot Gig racing on Scilly, with the ladies' race on Wednesday. After the race, supporters fill the Turk's Head to discuss the race and to socialise. The pub is always open through the summer, but during the winter it is only open on Wednesdays for a quiz, and one other night.

Notable residents[edit]

Periglis Cottage was the home of St Agnes's resident ornithologist Hilda M. Quick. She was the author of Birds of the Scilly Isles published in 1964.

Population[edit]

  • 1841 - 243
  • 1861 - 200
  • 1871 - 179
  • 1878 estimated to be

nearly 150 in 25 households;
the heads of 17 of these
were surnamed Hicks (still
a common surname on the island)

  • 1881 - 148
  • 1891 - 130
  • 1901 - 134
  • 1911 - 102
  • 1921 - 101
  • 1931 - 78
  • 1951 - 78
  • 1961 - 85
  • 1971 - 63
  • 1981 - 80
  • 1991 - 90
  • 2001 - 73

Natural history[edit]

Over one third of the area of St Agnes is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In the south of the island Wingletang Down is noted for its heath, dune grassland and rocky coast and is the only site in Britain where the fern least adder's–tongue (Ophioglossum lusitanicum) grows. Other rare plants include the orchid autumn lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) and early meadow-grass (Poa infirma). The only freshwater pools on St Agnes are Big Pool and Little Pool in the north-west of the island which are part of the Big Pool and Browarth Point SSSI. The vegetation has some brackish influence because of occasional influx of the sea during winter storms with rushes such as saltmarsh rush (Juncus gerardi) and sea club–rush (Scirpus maritimus). The surrounding grassland, which is also a cricket pitch, is notable for the clovers amongst its flora including western clover (Trifolium occidentale), suffocated clover (T. suffocatum) and subterranean clover (T. subterraneum). Other plants include adder’s-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum) and small adder’s-tongue (O. azoricum).[5][6]

Vagrant birds[edit]

St Agnes is visited by birdwatchers, particularly during the ″Scilly season″ of September and October. Among the many vagrant birds which have been found here around this time are the following, which were all ″firsts″ for Britain:

In addition:

Among rare vagrants recorded at other times of year are the following:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Vyvyan, Clara C (1960). The Scilly Isles. London: Robert Hale. 
  2. ^ Changes to lighthouse as it marks 100th year. Cornishman 28 July 2011. p 15.
  3. ^ http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/peninnis.html
  4. ^ www.shipwrecks.uk.com/tricent-leaflet
  5. ^ "Big Pool and Browarth Point (St Agnes)". Natural England. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Wingletang Down (St Agnes)". Natural England. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Harris, G J; Parslow J L F (November 1960). "Northern Waterthrush in the Isles of Scilly: a bird new to Great Britain and Ireland". British Birds 53 (11): 513–8. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Parslow, Jon L; Carter M J (1965). "Bobolink in the Isles of Scilly: a bird new to Great Britain and Ireland". British Birds 58: 208–214. 
  9. ^ Osborne, Ken (2002). "Birding Hotspots 1: The Parsonage". Isles of Scilly Bird and Natural History Review 2001: 165–7. 
  10. ^ Edwards, K D; Osborne K C (1972). "Hooded Warbler in the Isles of Scilly: a species new to Britain and Ireland". British Birds 65:: 203–5. 
  11. ^ Dukes, Paul A (1980). "Semipalmated Plover: new to Britain and Ireland". British Birds 73: 458–464. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Robinson, Peter (2003). Birds of the Isles of Scilly. London: Christopher Helm. p. 608. ISBN 0-7136-6037-6. 
  13. ^ Dukes, Paul A (March 1995). "Wood Thrush in Scilly: new to Britain and Ireland". British Birds 88 (3): 133–5. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Fisher Ashley and Flood Bob (2005). "Cream-coloured Courser - First for Scilly, September 28, 2004". Isles of Scilly Bird and Natural History Review 2004: 138–9. 
  15. ^ Quick, Hilda (1952). "Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in Scilly: A new British bird". British Birds 45: 225–7. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Hudson, D.C. (2010) Isles of Scilly Bird and Natural History Review 2009. Isles of Scilly Bird Group.

External links[edit]

Media related to St Agnes, Isles of Scilly at Wikimedia Commons