I had seen loads of pictures of St Michaels' Mount, but nothing quite prepared me for the first glimpse as we approached - it's literally breathtaking.
Ten things I learned at St Michael's Mount:
1. The Mount is 275 million years old!
As everyone knows, St Michael's Mount was created when the Cornubian Batholith was formed following the cooling of magma.
2. It was once called Ictis (probably)!
It's likely that people have lived on the Mount since the Stone Age. In the 1st century BC, a historian described how tin created in Ancient Britain was taken to a tidal island called Ictis where merchants would buy it and transport it over Europe. There has been much debate about where Ictis is, but SMM is the likeliest candidate.
3. It was once owned by Mont-St-Michel!
I had to write an essay about Mont-St-Michel for my English GCSE. My teacher made me write it three times but it was still rubbish and I got a really bad mark. And now I know why; to this day, I thought that Mont-St-Michel and St Michael's Mount were the same thing. This is despite me spending several weeks in 1989 writing about a monastery in Normandy, while I knew that SMM was in Cornwall. ANYWAY. After the Norman invasion, SMM was given to the monks of Mont-St-Michel, so I was kind of right.
4. The church is the oldest part of the building!
The church was consecrated in 1144 and it's still there today.
5. It was once owned by Syon Abbey!
Henry V transferred SMM to his Bridgettine convent of Syon Abbey in 1414. This probably means nothing to most people, but it caused major excitement among the Scone Sidekick and me, as we live in Isleworth, home of Syon Abbey. Sadly Syon Abbey has gone, but we DO still have the UK's second largest sewage works.
6. The wife of Perkin Warbeck stayed there!
Perkin Warbeck claimed to be one of the Princes in the Tower, and raised an army in Cornwall to claim the throne from Henry VII. Mrs Warbeck stayed at SMM for safety in 1497. Perkin finally gave himself up as an imposter - the guide book doesn't say what happened to him, but I don't suppose he was allowed to go home and forget it ever happened.
7. The Aubyns arrived in 1659...and they'll be there until 2953!
SMM was bought by Colonel John St Aubyn in 1659. His descendant, also John St Aubyn, gave the Mount to the National Trust in 1954, but negotiated a 999 YEAR LEASE for the family, who still live there today. I was expecting the interior of SMM to be a ruin but it's actually a comfortable house - admittedly this room doesn't look TOO comfortable but you get the idea:
8. It has survived earthquakes and tsunamis!
The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 caused a 3 metre tsunami in Cornwall, which severely damaged the harbour of SMM. The Mount also survived an earthquake in 1275.
9. It has a causeway!
I'm not sure why, but there's something very wonderful about a building that is accessible by a causeway that disappears into the sea. If you go to SMM, I recommend you check the tide times - for once, I was actually prepared so we got there just in time to amble across. This is the causeway starting to disappear as the tide comes in:
And this is how it looked after we got back to the mainland by boat:
10. The scones aren't home-made!
I'm not surprised that St Michael's Mount is so popular - it must be in the top three most beautiful NT properties and I can't recommend it highly enough.
St Michael's Mount: 5 out of 5
Scones: 4 out of 5
Disappearing causeway: 5 out of 5