St Mary


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"ST. MARY, a parish, and the principal of the Scilly Isles, coast of the county of Cornwall, 25 miles W. by S. of the Land's End. It is about 2½ miles long by 1½ mile broad. The surface of the island, which rises in some parts to a considerable elevation, is in general rocky and barren, but in the vales are some fertile spots. Minerals are found in the hills. It contains Heugh, or Hugh Town, the only town in Scilly, situated on the S.W. side of the island, at the foot of Garrison Hill, which is joined to it by an isthmus. The town, which was much damaged by inundation during the great storm in 1744, contains a townhall, custom-house, and a prison, and is defended by the Star fort, originally built by Sir Francis Godolphin in 1593. Its harbour, which is defended by a pier, has from three to five fathoms water, where vessels of 150 tons may ride in safety, but it is difficult of access owing to the Woolpack, Bartholomew, and other ledges of rock. About a mile from Hugh Town is the Church Town, consisting of a few houses and the church, in the chancel of which were buried the bodies of several persons of distinction who were drowned with Sir Cloudesley Shovel in October, 1707, when the Association man-of-war was cast away upon the Gilston rock. To the N. of the island is Crow Sound, and a little to the eastward Pomellin or Porthmillin Bay, famous for its white sand, used as writing sand. There is also another small village called Old Town, formerly the most important place in the island, and on the W. side, of the island are St. Mary's garrison, with the barracks and the remains of several batteries. The Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists have chapels. There are several schools, one of which is aided with £12 per annum by the Duchy of Cornwall. The Pilots' Fund Charity consists of the interest of £365 government stock, applied to the relief of the widows of pilots lost by drowning. Numerous Druidical and other British remains have been met with on the island, and on a promontory called the Giant's Castle are traces of an ancient fortress.

"BRYHER, a small island in the parish of St. Mary, Scilly Islands, in the county of Cornwall."

"GANILLY ISLES, on the N.E. side of the Scilly Islands in the parish of St. Mary, county Cornwall. They are distinguished as Great, Little, and Gannick, and comprise about 20 acres each."

"GWYNHILL and GWYNHILLVEOR, islets of the Scilly group in the parish of St. Mary, off the coast of Cornwall."

"HEUGH TOWN, in the parish of St. Mary, Scilly Islands, of which it is the capital, county Cornwall. It is situated on a sandy peninsula between St. Mary's Pool and Port Cressa, and has a small pier, about 400 feet long. The town is small, consisting chiefly of one crooked street of stone houses, roughly built. It contains a prison, court-house, steward's house, with several shops and inns. The church stands at Old Town. On Heugh Hill, a short distance from the town, stands Star Castle Fort and the barracks. The living is a perpetual cur: in the diocese of Exeter."

"SAMPSON, one of the Scilly Islands, in the parish of St. Mary, county Cornwall. It comprises about 80 acres, and has several ancient barrows."

"ST. AGNES, the southernmost of the Scilly Islands in the parish of St. Mary, on the western coast of Cornwall, about 1 mile in length, and half a mile in breadth. A lighthouse, 60 feet in height, with a revolving light of Argand lamps and reflectors, seen all round once a minute, has been erected on one of the highest points of the island. It is an important mark for seamen, and is visible to a distance of 16 miles. It was first established by Adam Walker, in the year 1680. The Gilstone Rock, where Sir Cloudesley Shovel was lost, in 1707, lies a little westward of this island. The island comprises an area of nearly 650 acres, and in 1851 had 204 inhabitants. The church of St. Agnes is a small, plain edifice, containing a nave, one aisle, chancel, and transept. The clergyman is appointed by A. Smith, Esq., lord proprietor of the isles. There is an infant school, and a meeting-house of the Bible Christians.

"ST. HELEN'S, one of the smaller Scilly Islands, in the parish of St. Mary, county Cornwall, N. of Tresco Island, with an old church, good pasture, but no inhabitants.

"ST. MARTIN, one of the Scilly Islands in the parish of St. Mary, off the western coast of Cornwall, 3 miles N. of St. Mary's. It is chiefly used for sheep pasture, and is inhabited by fishermen. On the S.E. side of the island is a channel, or sound, and on the shore a landmark, 40 feet high.

"TRESCOE, an island in the parish of St. Mary, Scilly Islands, county Cornwall, 2 miles N.W. of St. Mary's. The principal village is called Dolphin. It has a good anchorage at New Grimsby. There are traces of a priory cell, and of Old and Oliver's Castles, where Asker and Blake formed intrenchments for the purpose of capturing St. Mary's Island, the last retreat of the adherents of King Charles I. This island measures about 2 miles in length by 1 mile in breadth. The land is generally fertile. The living is a curacy in the diocese of Exeter. The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas."