The Garrison St Mary's

Like Peninnis Head this area of St Mary's justifies its own page and is described as a walk.  There are three significant publications;

1 - THE GARRISON, St Mary's Isles of Scilly, A Walk Around The Walls.  Produced by Cornwall County Council with a grant by English Heritage.  Available at the Isles of Scilly Museum.  This is a must have and very, very good value.  It has one of the best detailed maps of the Garrison we have seen.

2 - Defending Scilly, ISBN: 9781848020436.  Published by English Heritage.  2011.  This is an excellent publication for those with a real interest, about 10

3 - 'A walk around the fortifications and artillery of Garrison Hill, (The Hugh), St Mary's, Isles of Scilly.  Mainmast Conservation, ISBN: 9780955633324.'  Not bad, good value.

What follows is currently identified as Scillypedia Historical Walk No. 1 by Todd Stevens & Ed Cumming.

Walk through the Garrison Gate surmounted by the bell and bellcote.  It was built c. 1601 and rebuilt in 1742 by Abraham Tovey.  It bears the initials A. R.  for him, G. R. for King George II and F. G. for Francis Godolphin (Leaseholder of the Island at this period). On the right is the Guardhouse with its Benchmark (No. 1) and on the left a barracks which is now Gatehouse Cottage.

At this point there are three options;

1 - Left takes you clockwise around the Garrison, or;

2 - Straight up the hill (Rocket House/Magazine) and The Prison 'Hole'  to your left) to the Star Castle, or;

3 - A turn to the right, past the Guardhouse, down the path, passing the Well Battery, The White House, and ending with the Newman House (Left) & Store House Battery (Right).  This is the start of the anticlockwise route.

For this walk we will take the lower, clockwise route, option 1.

Go left having visited the Rocket House (Magazine) and The Prison 'Hole' if open on your right.  The first gun emplacement on your left is King Georges Battery (Also called The Higher Battery)  English Heritage have placed two cast iron guns here. (See publication above for detailed information about all the fortifications and artillery on this walk.)  Note the masonry in the wall; it changes with the period built, engineer in charge, funding available and the stones masons style.

Continue the clockwise route.  Steps on the right are what remains of the first Sally Port.  Still on the right Veronica Lodge (Originally the Commanding Officer's Accommodation).   Opposite the offices of the Duchy of Cornwall, Hugh House (This building was formerly the Garrison Officer's Mess built in 1792) is the Duke of Leeds Battery (Also called The Garden Battery).   The guns here are probably from H.M.S. Colossus.

On the right is the only accessible Sally Port which would allow you to leave the Garrison Walls at this point if you wanted to go back to town.  Take a peep, the portcullis slots are clearly visible.   Next  left is the Upper Benham with one gun and a WW2 Pill Box (picture left).  Just past it, is the last Sally Port which now leads to a private garden. This was once the Lower Benham Battery overlooking Porthcressa.

Continue down the path in front of the Trinity House Cottages (Now residential).  At the turn of the Garrison Wall is Benchmark 2 and in a short distance a ventilation valve which at certain states of the tide makes odd gurgling noises.

Walk on Past the Higher Broome Battery to the Lower Broome Battery with its collection of Elms.  Note that the original batteries were destroyed by the sea.  The wall continues, with intermittent gun embrasures, along what was said to be St Mary's 'Mall' to the 'Morning Point Battery.  The English Heritage archaeologists point out that this wall replaced Breastwork similar to that which you will observe later once you have past Steval Point.

Just before you approach the Morning Point Battery note the bedrock has been cut away by the Engineer Abraham Tovey to ensure a concealed, level path.  Down the steps and a turn to the left brings you into the battery. As you enter there is one 18 pounder gun manufactured by the Carron Company in 1811 and here is one of the many stunning views from the Garrison.  Some of the wall here has been 'robbed', possibly to provide stone for the sewerage outlet pipe which leaves the Garrison south of this battery.  There is a second WW2 pillbox integrated into an angle of the wall, well camouflaged.

As you leave Morning Point you are now on the southern part of the Garrison Wall.  Note here the Redans  ('V' shaped protrusions used for flanking fire).  There is the opportunity here to take a lower path if you wish.  (If you do you will enter an area of cultivation plots originally maintained by the soldiers.  Also from here you will be able to observe the carved stone protrusions of the drains which keep waste water away from the outside of the wall).  If you do venture  south of the Garrison Wall take more care where you walk.  Perhaps left to a later walk!

For now keep the wall on your left and make your way to the very impressive Woolpack Battery.  Enter through, the archway which has similarities with the Rocket House.  Four guns here, the larger 32 pounders. from H.M.S. Colossus mounted on open framed, cast iron saluting carriages which are extremely rare. The other two are George II (1727-1760) 9 pounders with the 'G'&'R' monogram. As you leave the Woolpack 0n the left there is a cobble floored gateway which leads to the lower of the Woolpack 'Defence (Electric) Light'  (Often referred to as DELS)

Back through the gateway carry on left.  One more Redan then the Bartholomew Battery.  Here there is a different style of masonry.  Small granite fragments called 'bites' can be seen between the stones.

On some of the stones are 'X' marks.  Some are identified in 'X Marks', their purpose is as yet unknown by us.

On to a more modern structure, c. 1900; the underground generator house providing power for night time activities and in particular the two defence lights (DEL) at the Woolpack and at the Steval Point Batteries.   These were positioned so that they could project an intersecting beam but could also follow a ship in St Mary's Sound from St Agnes to Tresco.  This generator complex is all housed in the earlier Colonel George Boscawen's Battery.

NOTE:  Above you, in this area, are more fortifications.  Principally Greystones and the Steval and Woolpack Batteries.  These require a detour or an approach via option 2.  Details of these, the defence lights and the various fortifications are well illustrated by Mainmast Conservation, publication 3 above.

Carry on keeping the Garrison Wall at this lower level to your left until you reach the next Redan, the Steval Point Battery with its two DEL's is in front and there is a track to you right.  This track will take you to the Star Castle and although uphill is a much less tortuous route.  We are going to bear left after the Garrison Wall ends at this point and join the cliff path.  With due care take this path to King Charles Battery.  Apart from stunning views look for the signs of Breastworks near the cliff edges.  These works date from the Civil War c.1646.  Well illustrated in publication 2.

Once back into civilisation join the path to the King Charles Battery. Here there are more, fine (and well maintained) guns.  The most impressive being a transversing, muzzle loading Blomefield 18 pounder. c. 1800.  Other guns include two 9 pounders George III, a 32pdr and a rare Swedish 9pdr c. 1680 found as a gatepost on St Mary's.  Here turf banks are also used to protect the batteries.

Carrying on this path will bring you to Newman House on the right and the Store House Battery on the left.  Most of this area is now in private hands. It is this area you would have reached first had you taken the anticlockwise route, option 3.

Once back at the Gatehouse and Rocket House/Magazine you can now take option 2 particularly to view the Star Castle.  On the lefthand side of the road look for the very old window framing a pot plant and just a few more feet further on the penny pot stone set into the wall.  Beyond the Castle is the playing field (once the Camping Ground for the Garrison soldiers).  Further still you can see the Garrison Tower (part of the modern Campsite) and the area around Greystones, Steval and Woolpack high level Batteries.  Much of the area forms the modern Campsite.


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British National Grid Data

Newman Battery SV89912,  10810

King Charles Battery (Transversing Gun) SV89751,  10718

Garrison Gate SV 90084,  10664

White House SV 90019,  10686

Start of Brestwork after King Charles Battery - SV 89722,  10694

End of Ditto - SV 89492,  10395

Foremost DEL Steval Point - SV 89473

Steval Battery (Near the gun platform, private accommodation) - SV 89558, 10368

Steval Pillbox - SV 89508,  10373

Start of the Garrison Wall - SV 89524,  10366

Redan 1 Anticlockwise - SV 89522,  10279

DELS Generator House - SV 89569,  10191

Bartholomew Battery - SV 89647,  10096

Garrison Well Head - SV 89685,  10103

Redan 2 - SV 89717,  10010

Gate to outside wall near Woolpack - SV 89778,  09920

Woolpack, foremost DEL - SV 89781,  09868

Woolpack, rear DEL On the hill behind the battery) - SV 89834, 09985

Woolpack Pillbox (Outside Wall) - SV 89783, 09875

Woolpack Gate - SV 89796, 09908

Woolpack Carn - SV 89802, 09934

Pillbox inside Woolpack SV 89784, 09880

Signs of Old Structure within Woolpack - SV 89813, 09900

Redan 3 Anti-clockwise - SV 89858, 09930

Redan 4 - SV 89925, 09931

Redan 5 - SV 89989, 09936

Morning Point Benchmark - SV 90057, 09944

Morning Point - SV 90071, 09914

Morning Point Pillbox - SV 90087, 09920

Tovey Cut - SV 90053, 09956

'I' in wall - SV 90057, 10007

Lower Broome - SV SV 90100, 10186

Join in wall - SV 90103, 10294

Water Pipe Breather - SV 90103, 10307

Coast Guard Cottages Benchmark - SV 90097, 10317

Benham Battery - SV 90115, 10405

Benham Pillbox - SV 90124, 10398

Sally Port Benham (Private) - SV 90109, 10404

Sally Port (Open) - SV 90088, 10453

Garden Battery - SV 90082, 10512

Sally Port (Steps only) - SV90081, 10577

Opening in Wall - SV 90088, 10621

Sentry Box? SV 90088, 10638

Lookout? - SV 90101, 10631

Detention Cell & Powder Room - SV 90051, 10655

Guard House Door Benchmark - SV 90070, 10660

See also 'X' marks in the Garrison Wall.

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