Old Town, Isles of Scilly

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Old Town
Old Town, St. Mary's - geograph.org.uk - 929131.jpg
Old Town Bay — the island's airport is seen atop the right-hand hill, whilst Ennor Castle was located at the small wooded hill towards the left.
Old Town is located in Isles of Scilly
Old Town
Old Town
Old Town shown within Isles of Scilly
OS grid referenceSV914102
Civil parish
  • St Mary's
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
CountryEngland
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townISLES OF SCILLY
Postcode districtTR21
Dialling code01720
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
FireIsles of Scilly
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
List of places
UK
England
Cornwall
49°54′45″N 6°18′00″W / 49.9125°N 6.3°W / 49.9125; -6.3Coordinates: 49°54′45″N 6°18′00″W / 49.9125°N 6.3°W / 49.9125; -6.3

Old Town is a village on St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly located southeast of Hugh Town.[1] It is thought to be the oldest settlement on the island. There is a church, a pub (the Old Town Inn),[2] two cafes, a small convenience shop and a day nursery.

It is a popular tourist area and is only a short distance from the island's airport. Three art and pottery studios are located on the lane heading north out of the village. As well as a number of self-catering holiday properties, Old Town also has a large proportion of dwellings permanently occupied by local residents. The Five Islands School, as well as the main sports and fitness centre for St Mary's, is located just by Old Town.

Old Town Bay forms a natural harbour and links the village with the open sea; there is an old quay and there continues to be a slipway in use.

History[edit]

View of Old Town and the bay from the terraced graveyard; it is the resting place of many of those who have died in nearby shipwrecks.

In medieval times this was the main harbour, administrative centre and settlement of the Isles of Scilly. The island of St Mary's was then known as Ennor, and Old Town was named Porth Ennor or Porthenor (being the main harbour settlement of the island). It declined with the development of The Garrison and neighbouring Hugh Town, which in turn replaced Old Town as the main harbour, administrative centre and settlement of the Isles.

Ennor Castle[edit]

On a small but prominent knoll are the fragmentary remains of a small shell keep castle dating from the thirteenth or fourteenth century, known as Ennor Castle, the only medieval castle on the islands.[3] It became redundant after Star Castle (at The Garrison) was built in the late sixteenth century, and much of its stone was then robbed for buildings in Old Town.[4]

Church[edit]

On the other side of the bay to the settlement lies St Mary's Old Church (commonly known as Old Town Church) which is surrounded by an old, terraced graveyard as well as the newer municipal cemetery. The dedication of the church to St Mary then gave that name to the island parish, replacing the older name of Ennor; the naming after the parish church is also the case with a number of other islands in Scilly. Common with other Cornish parishes, the church is located a little distance from the main settlement of the parish, and there once was a small "churchtown" surrounding the church; today however there are no other buildings in the vicinity of the church. The parish church of St Mary's is now in Hugh Town, also dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, though the Old Church is used for Sunday evening services (Easter-September)[5] and the cemetery belonging to the Council of the Isles of Scilly lies adjacent.[6]

Notable residents[edit]

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Harold Wilson was a resident of Hugh Town (in a simple, plain bungalow called 'Lowenva') and is now buried in the cemetery at the church at Old Town.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Landranger 203: Land's End & Isles of Scilly. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Old Town Inn". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Ennor Castle (1014994)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Ennor Castle (304082)". PastScape. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  5. ^ Scilly Bells Church
  6. ^ Council of the Isles of Scilly Cemetery
  7. ^ "James Harold Wilson". findagrave.com. Retrieved 9 May 2012.