Isles of Scilly – Group of Small Islands - The Traveller


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Isles of Scilly – Group of Small Islands

 Isles of Scilly – Group of Small Islands
Isles of Scilly also known as Scilly Isles form an archipelago off the south-western tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. It is a group of around 50 small islands with many more islets lying around. Though the Isles of Scilly are a part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall, with some of the services combined with Cornwall, the island has had a separate local authority since 1890 and with the passing of the Isles of Scilly Order in 1930, this authority has the status of a county council which is presently known as the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

The administrative centre is on St. Mary’s which is the largest island in the group. The Duchy of Cornwall is in possession of most of the freehold land on the islands and tourism is a major part of their economy besides farming and agriculture. Nestling around 35 miles off the coast of Cornwall, these islands are amazing and outstandingly beautiful, unspoilt and not crowded making it a different world from the everyday life. Natural England has declared the Isles of Scilly as National Character Area.

Island Comprising of Granite

The islands comprises of granite which are a continuation of the granite masses of the Cornish mainland reaching an elevation of around 165 feet on St. Mary’s with dangerous rocky coast having many reefs.

 The island’s climate being exceptionally mild, the mean monthly temperature varies from 45 to 65 degree Fahrenheit, with their flora and fauna much different from the English mainland, with many flourishing subtropical plants. One will find seals that live on the rocks and islets and a variety of seabirds, the roseate tern being the rarest British breeding terns while the Manx shearwater, its only British breeding site in the island.

Prehistoric remains in the form of barrows and rude pillars are there on the islands. The island was given to the abbot of Tavistock in Devon by Henry I, during his reign in 1100-35 and in the 16th century it was the crown property and leased in 1571 to Francis Godolphin who in 1593 built Star Castle above Hugh Town.

Island Controlled by Monarchy Supporters, 1642 - 51

It was during the English Civil Wars, 1642 – 51, that the island was controlled by monarchy supporters causing severe damage to Dutch ships by the navy. The Netherlands had declared war against the islands in 1651 after being rebuffed for demands on reparation for losses and thereafter control of the island was gained by Parliament’s supporters. The war ended subsequently and a formal peace treaty was not signed till April 17, 1986.

 Five islands only are inhabited namely St. Agnes, Bryher St, Mary, Tresco and St. Martin’s. Most of the locals reside on St. Mary, which has a harbour at Hugh Town as well as a museum of Scilly history and prehistory. Hugh Town, the capital is between two sandy beaches and one can find the Tourist Information Centre at the top of Porthcress beach. Bishop Rock Lighthouse towards the island’s western end is an excellent example of the 19th century civil engineering. A ferry service to Penzance is available on the mainland and flights connect the islands to the Land’s End.

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