Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. Mawes - A Device Fort

Henry VIII never did anything on a small scale.  Even his domestic problems had large consequences.

In our times, if a man and wife are fighting we expect there will be a few concerned phone calls; maybe the police will show up at the door.  But for Henry, his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the subsequent feud with Rome prompted his Catholic neighbors to actively threaten invasion.

In response Henry built a series of "Device Forts" along England's southern coastline.  Although designated as such, these were not castles in the classical sense, they were masonry forts mounting artillery designed to sink approaching ships.  Most of them remained in service clear into the 20th Century having stood guard against the Spanish Armada, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler.

On our walking tour one of our stops is at St. Mawes near Falmouth.  A stroll down the road is one of Henry's forts, built in the 1540s.  A few photos:

I searched high and low looking for graffiti.  I was hoping to somewhere see a subtle T.E.Lawrence.   It seems that he ran away from home in 1905 and served a few weeks as a 17 year old soldier in the Royal Garrison Artillery stationed at St. Mawes Castle.

Alas, arriving just after closing time I could not tour the interior.  And atypically for such sites English Heritage had the place effectively fortified against casual strollers looking to wander about outside the walls.  So if "Lawrence of Arabia" left his signature here somewhere I never came close to it.

For more on Device Forts wikipedia always comes in handy:  St. Mawes and others

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