St Michael’s Mount

I never tire of sitting and sketching the beautiful, serene St Michael’s Mount. It is a place that seems to have always been with me, from a small child to an adult.

St Michael’s Mount is an island only 500m’s from the mainland. Connected by a tidal causeway at low tide and ferry boats at high tide.

The Cornish name, ‘Karrek Loos yn Koos’, means ‘Grey rock in the woods’. This could be a memory of when the Mount was still part of the mainland before this part of Mount’s Bay was flooded.

The featured sketch above is:

A Window on the Mount

September 18th, Watercolour ~ A5
J & I have a few days of hols in Cornwall. Tonight staying in The Godolphin in Marazion. Our room has a large round window, which overlooks St Michael’s Mount.
As it was low tide we strolled over to the Mount for a quick look round. Watched five gigs being launched off the beach. Before having fish & chips on the beach.
It’s now high tide and I’m lying in bed listening to the sea lapping outside our window. What a delightful spot.

Pen sketch of low tide at St Michael's Mount

Mount’s Bay

January 3rd, Pen ~ A5
We have walked around from Perranuthnoe on the coast path. I never get bored of trying to capture Mounts Bay, I just love the reflections on the beach and the grandeur of St Michaels Mount.

Pen sketch of low tide, with people on the beach at St Michael's Mount

Low tide at St Michael’s Mount

January 3rd, Pen ~ A6
Walking on Marazion beach. Stopped very quickly for this sketch, the weather today is quite warm and still at the moment. This is my little lad digging on the beach.

Pen sketch of Gathering Seaweed on Marazion beach.

Gathering Seaweed

January 3rd, Pen ~ A6
While we were on Marazion beach, a lad and his tractor drove along collecting the seaweed. My son found this fascinating.

Charcoal sketch of low tide at the Mount

Low tide causeway to the Mount

March 19th, Charcoal ~ A5
Looking across to the mount from the rockpools at the foot of the ‘Giant’s Rock’.

Watercolour sketch of Gigging at Mounts Bay

Gigging

March 19th, Watercolour ~ A5
One of several groups launching their ‘Gig’ off Marazion Beach today. Looked great, I am always very envious.

Pen and watercolour sketch of Marazion beach and the Giants Rock ~ Marazion

The Giant’s Rock

March 19th, Pen & watercolour wash ~ A5
With a full moon, the tide was very low. We were able to walk over to the Mount, not on the causeway and straight through the harbour entrance. Finding a small hermit crab on the way.
Lovely sunny weather, with a slight nip to the air.
The ‘little fella’ spent quite a lot of time climbing on and rock pooling around ‘the Giants Rock’. The St Michael’s Mount Giant threw the rock at his wife and it landed halfway across the beach – allegedly! What you see in the sketch is only a very small part.

Pen sketch of people 'funneling' towards St Michael's Mount

Funnelling towards the Mount

April 6th, Pen & Brushpen ~ A5
A nice sunny day, but a little chilly. The tide was out and all the visitors were being ‘funnelled’ along the beach. Everyone seemed to be walking towards St Michaels Mount.

Watercolour sketch of the sunset over St Michaels Mount.

Sunset over St Michael’s Mount

April 28th, Watercolour ~ A5
This evening J, R & myself have driven over to Perranuthnoe (a lovely quiet cove in Mounts Bay) for a stroll along the cliffs before the little fella’s bedtime. I used to often come here as a lad, so it’s nice to introduce it to R.
It’s a beautiful evening with the sun sinking over St Michaels Mount. R is running on ahead exploring and having a lovely time. As we get to our furthest point and turn around we notice a mist blowing in. So the walk changes character as we head back to the car.

Watercolour sketch of a Blustery St Michael's Mount

Blustery St Michael’s Mount

May 30th, Watercolour ~ A4
We are sit protected by the sea wall, looking out at the Mount. As I’ve said before I never tire of looking at St Michael’s Mount.
After lunch, we walk over the causeway, but I find there are too many people there for me. So I’m leaving the rest of the gang to carry on up and into the castle. Whilst I cross back to the mainland for some sketching. (I’ve been in the castle several times before, so don’t mind.)
I have found a quiet spot on the rocks, out of the wind to do some painting. Before re-grouping with the others later.

Pen and watercolour sketch of Marazion beach.

Marazion Beach

August 19th, Pen & Watercolour ~ A6
We drove down this morning to Mum & Dad’s and after lunch, we were on Marazion beach.
Which was busy with people enjoying themselves. It is low tide with many people crossing on the causeway to get to the Mount. There was a warm breeze blowing and we spent a happy time pottering about in the rock pools.

Oil pastel sketch of people waiting for the ferry at Marazion

Waiting for the ferry

August 28th, Oil Pastel on coloured paper ~ A4
A Bank Holiday weekend, so pretty busy here – as you would expect. As it’s high tide there is not much beach for everyone to sit. Whilst J and the lad were playing, I walked along the beach and sat sketching. This is the queue of people as they waited for the ferry to take them over to St Michael’s Mount.
In the distance are all the sails of the sailing club, as they race in the bay.

Oil pastel sketch of Moonlight over St Michael's Mount

Moonlight over St Michael’s Mount

November 7th, Oil Pastel on coloured paper ~ A4
A lovely cold, clear moonlit evening. So after the ‘little fella’ was tucked up in bed (with Nanny & Grandad babysitting), J & I went for a stroll along Marazion beach. It was low tide so we were able to walk over to the Mount, for a little look around the deserted harbour ~ Magical.
I did a quick pencil sketch on site, not easy in very limited light and when I got back produced this sketch whilst it was fresh in my mind.

Charcoal sketch of St Michael's Mount

Sweeping Views

December 27th, Charcoal & Pastel on coloured paper ~ A4
For this sketch, I used charcoal and white pastel on grey coloured paper. It’s obviously of St Michael’s Mount (I know I can’t stop drawing it!) on a narrow A4 size. In hindsight, it would have been better to do the sketch on a larger piece of paper, as I felt restricted working on A4, with such a sweeping view./i>

A little history of the Mount

On the Mount has evidence has been found of Neolithic people (4000 – 2500 BC), with possible evidence of Mesolithic people (8000 – 3500 BC).
The Mount could also be the isle of ‘Ictis’, described by the Sicilian-Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in 1 BC as a centre of tin trading.

Monastery

St Michael’s Mount was the site of a Monastery from the 8th to the 11th Centuries. With Edward the Confessor giving the site to the Benedictine order of Mont Saint-Michel, in France. With the two sites being very similar. Monastic buildings, on the top of the Mount, were started in the 12th Century. The community here was disrupted in 1193 when Henry de La Pomeray took control of it. This was part of the attempted coup of Prince John to take the Crowd from his brother Richard I. Fortifications were started on the Mount at about this time. Either by Henry or by Richard I on his return. When the monks were restored they also carried on fortifying their monastery. The connection with the Benedictine order was ended in 1424 when Henry V granted it to the Convent of Syon at Isleworth in Middlesex.

Wars of the Roses

During the Wars of the Roses, John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, captured the Mount. He was a Lancastrian supporter of Henry VI. In 1473, he used the Mount as a privateering base. He was compelled to surrender by John Fortescue on the 15 February 1474. He had been besieged for four and a half months. Another War of the Roses connection is when Perkin Warbeck landed at the Mount before moving inland. He claimed to be Richard, Duke of York (one of the Princes in the Tower) and challenged Henry VII.

English Civil War

The monastery, on the Mount, was ended with Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The English Reformation continued and the coming of a New Prayer Book that banned the Latin Mass. This didn’t go down well with the Cornish population. And in 1549 the mount was temporarily seized by rebels during a general Cornish Prayer Book Rebellion. In 1599 Elizabeth I sold the Mount to Sir Robert Cecil. It was then sold to Sir Francis Bassett, in 1640. Who garrisoned it for the King during the English Civil War. Parliamentary forces besieged the Mount. When it was taken Colonel John St Aubyn was appointed Captain of the Mount, he then purchased it in 1659. After the restoration, a year later, he was allowed to stay by Charles II and his descendants still live there.

The village around the base of the Mount was a flourishing port from 1727, with three schools and three public houses. However, it went into decline with the coming of the railway to Penzance.

Finally onto the National Trust

From the 18th to the 19th Centuries the buildings on the Mount were romanticised to how we know it today.
In 1954 most of St Michael’s Mount was given to the National Trust. With a 999-year lease for the St Aubyn family to carry on living there.

© Copyright Nick Watton.
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