The 'capital' of St. Marys is grandly called Hugh Town and sits astride a narrow strip
of land which connects the main island to the fortified Garrison. Here, you will find
two banks (Lloyds and Barclays - but only Lloyds Bank offers a Cashpoint machine),
the Post Office, the Papershop, an Off License, a Butcher/Baker, Police Station, Library, Registry Office, the
Tourist Information Centre, the Town Hall (which doubles as a venue for plays, slide
shows etc) and the Museum. There are three Churches comprising the Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin together with its Church Hall, the Methodist Church together with its Church Hall and the tiny Catholic Church "Star of the Sea" (Stella Maris) also dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Hotels and Pubs in Hugh Town
There are five main hotels - Tregarthens, Star Castle Hotel, St Marys Hall Hotel, Bell Rock Hotel and the Atlantic Hotel. There are also three pubs - the Mermaid, the Bishop and Wolf and the Atlantic Inn. The Mermaid is the favourite pub of the 'gig' crews after the races on Wednesday and Friday evenings. There is also the Scillonian Club where inexpensive membership is available as well as a Sports Bar and Restaurant. In addition to the hotel restaurants, there are several cafes including 'Nornour', 'The Kavorna', 'The Pilots Gig' and 'The Deli'
Shopping in Hugh Town
several gift shops, our sole supermarket which is a
Co-op, the Chemist, three hairdressers, one Sports Shop,
and several clothes shops including The Foredeck and Foredeck Two and Seasalt. At one end of the seafront is the Dairy where you can buy delicious
ice creams, sandwiches made fresh each day, send Cornish clotted cream by post and
buy dairy supplies. The Post Office also houses 'Tanglewood Kitchen' selling local readymade meals and fresh fish. Cashback is offered at the Co-Op as well as several other places in town.
The Park - venue for May Day and the Christmas Carolaire
In the centre of Hugh Town is the Park, a small enclosed green space featuring
neat flower beds and surrounded by hedges. Here, in Spring, the May Queen is
crowned by Five Islands (primary age) School children all dressed in white with the girls
carrying bright posies and the boys carrying flower-decorated staffs. This annual May
Day Ceremony includes dancing round the Maypole, music, and singing. At
Christmas, the Park, decorated with strings of coloured lights and a large decorated
Christmas tree, is the venue for the evening Carolaire, when islanders gather to
celebrate the festive season with carols, prayers and mince pies.
Old Town - medieval capital of Scilly
The other 'metropolis' is Old Town, sited to take advantage of the protection of
the original island fortification called Ennor Castle (now barely discernible and
inaccessible due to its location on private land). Here you will find the little Old Town
Church in whose graveyard rests Lord Wilson of Rievaulx. Here also is the last resting
place of Nan Smith, who, under her maiden name of Nan Heath, produced many
delicately luminous and beautiful water colour paintings of the islands. Also at Old Town
are the Old Town Inn, Old Town Cafe, Tolman Cafe, the
John Bordeaux Pottery, Chris Smith (artist) and the cottage called 'Nowhere', home to the Island
Underwater Safaris diving school.
Of course, one of the main attractions of Scilly is the boating. From the quay,
you can take daily boat trips, run by the St. Marys Boatmens Association, to the other
four inhabited islands as well as round trip excursions to see lighthouses, seals and
seabirds. There are also several smaller private boats which take parties of twelve or less and can offer a
more varied and specialised choice of boat trips. Details are to be found on the
blackboards in town and on the quay.
Other 'Scilly' things to do
There are many attractions and entertainments on offer - details can be found in the apartment Information Files as well as on various noticeboards displayed in town. There is an excellent Museum on St. Marys together with a Pottery, a Stained Glass Workshop, and many excellent Artists Studios. For more energetic
visitors, the islands offer horse-riding, sail-boarding, windsurfing, diving and sailing.
For the more laid-back among you, there are peaceful beaches and quiet coastlines to
explore. Or perhaps you might simply want to sit and absorb the beauty of Scilly -
occasionally Time itself almost seems to stop!
The Isles of Scilly Tourist Information Office
There is a Tourist Information Centre in Hugh Town which offers an excellent
and professional service to visitors. Here, amongst other things, they display daily
weather reports and tide times, operate a Vacancy List for the island accommodation and keep a
selection of leaflets and booklets covering a whole range of subjects both here and on
the mainland. You will find a visit to the TIC early in your holiday very interesting
and informative. There are two island publications. 'The Scillonian Magazine' produced bi-annually
and very comprehensive in its coverage of island matters. The other is a free monthly publication called 'Scilly Now and Then'.