St Agnes stands apart from the rest of the Scillies, across the deep St Maryʼs Sound. Even at the end of the last ice age,
when the rest of the islands were joined together to form a single land mass, St Agnes, The Gugh and Annet probably formed a separate island.
This, along with the small population and the lack of a hotel, all contribute to a feeling of being remote even from the remoteness of the rest of the Isles of Scilly
Like St Maryʼs, St Agnes is really two islands joined by a sand bar,
although in this case the bar is covered at high tide.
To the west is the main island, whilst to the east is The Gugh (pronounced by our boatman to rhyme with queue).
Presumably, like its cousin across St Maryʼs Sound, The Hugh, now known as The Garrison,
this also derives from the Cornish ugh meaning high.
One of the chief attractions of St Agnes is the Turkʼs Head public house, said by many to be the best pub in the Scillies. On the basis of one, only too brief,
lunchtime visit, I see no reason to disagree.
However when it was excavated in 1901, it was found to contain a crouching skeleton as well as a dozen cremation urns.
Old Lifeboat Slip
The old Lifeboat Station on St Agnes was operational from 1890 to 1920. There were two boats: firstly the RNLB James and Caroline
which was replaced in 1904 by the RNLB Charlie and Dure James.
In 1919 St Maryʼs Lifeboat station took delivery of a then state of the art motorised Watson Class boat named Elsie, and the station on St Agnes became redundant.
The lifeboat house is still in use as a boat shed, but the most visible remain is the lifeboat slip, said to be the longest in the country.
The old St Agnes Lighthouse dates back to 1680. It was built by Captain Hugh Hill and Captain Simon Bayly who also built Lowestoft lighthouse.
Up until 1790 it was coal fired, and the brazier can still be seen in the Valhalla Museum in Tresco Abbey Gardens.
It ceased operating when the Penninis Lighthouse was established in 1911 and was converted to residential accommodation.
It now serves only as a daymark.