Open the doors to an ancient castle and a much loved family home. Together, the St Aubyn family and the National Trust care for the Mount's rich historic legacy and ensure it is safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.
In 1954, Francis St Aubyn, 3rd Lord St Levan, gave a large part of the island and a significant endowment fund for its upkeep to the National Trust. The St Aubyn family retain a 999 year lease to live in the castle as well as running the visitor business under licence from the NT, welcoming you to discover their extraordinary family home
This unique partnership supports the Mount's vibrant island community, continuing a remarkable legacy of life and activity, which has existed since prehistoric times.
St Aubyn family
The first member of the St Aubyn family to move to Cornwall was Guy St Aubyn, who married the heiress of Colquite in the mid-14th century. His son, Geoffrey, advantageously married Elizabeth, the only child of Piers Kemyel of Clowance House, near Helston. Clowance became the principal family home until the mid-19th century and Elizabeth’s inheritance included lands at Lamorna and St Levan, which form part of St Aubyn Estates today.
During the English Civil War, the parliamentarian Colonel John St Aubyn was appointed Captain of St Michael’s Mount with a remit to secure the peace in the neighbouring area. Twelve years later he bought the Mount from the Bassett family, who had been temporarily impoverished by erecting extensive defences on the island for the Royalist cause. His son – also John – was made a baronet, and was the first of five successive Sir John St Aubyns.
For almost 200 years, St Michael’s Mount remained a subsidiary home, although the third Sir John retired there and rebuilt the harbour, leading to a revival of the island as a trading centre until it was overtaken by the coming of the railway and development of Penzance’s harbour.
His grandson, the 5th Sir John, was an extremely cultured man with a distinctly “exotic” private life. He had 15 illegitimate children, although he did marry Juliana, the mother of the last nine, once she was past childbearing age.
Two generations on, another John St Aubyn built the castle’s Victorian wing and completed its transformation into a mansion house. In 1887, he retired from life as an MP and was made Lord St Levan for his political services. In 1954, Francis St Aubyn, 3rd Lord St Levan, gave a large part of the island to the National Trust, under a unique arrangement whereby the family have a 999-year lease to live in the castle and a licence to operate the visitor business.
In 2003, James and Mary St Aubyn moved to the castle with their four children. They, in their turn, became Lord and Lady St Levan in 2013 and still live on the island today.