Scilly, Isles of

Scilly, Isles of

Group of about 50 small islands and many more islets, southwestern England.

Located off Land's End, with an area of about 6 sq mi (16 sq km), the islands are a continuation of the granite masses of the Cornish mainland. During the English Civil Wars, Prince Charles sheltered there until his escape to Jersey in 1646. The islands were a haunt of pirates and notorious for smuggling activities. Administratively, they are a distinct unit within England, though they form part of the county of Cornwall.

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▪ islands, England, United Kingdom
also called  Scilly Isles 
 group of about 50 small islands and many more islets lying southwest of Cornwall, England, 25–36 miles (40–58 km) off Land's End. Administratively, the islands are a distinct unit within England, though they form a part of the historic county of Cornwall. Because their council serves the functions of both a district and a county, they have a status similar to that of a unitary authority.

      The islands are composed of granite and are a continuation of the granite masses of the Cornish mainland. They reach an elevation of 165 feet (50 metres) in St. Mary's, the largest island, and have rocky, dangerous coasts with many reefs. Because the islands' climate is exceptionally mild—the mean monthly temperatures range from 45 to 62 °F (7 to 16 °C)—their fauna and flora are quite different from those on the English mainland. Many subtropical plants flourish. Among an immense variety of seabirds that visit the islands, the roseate tern is the rarest British breeding tern, and the Manx shearwater has its only British breeding site in the islands. Seals live on the rocks and islets.

      There are prehistoric remains in the form of barrows and rude pillars on the islands. Henry I (reigned 1100–35) gave the islands to the abbot of Tavistock in Devon. In the 16th century they became crown property and were leased in 1571 to Francis Godolphin, who built Star Castle above Hugh Town in 1593. During the English Civil Wars (1642–51), the islands were controlled by supporters of the monarchy, whose navy caused severe damage to Dutch ships. The Netherlands, which had been rebuffed after demanding reparation for losses, declared war against the islands in 1651. Soon after, Parliament's supporters gained control of the islands. The war subsequently ended, although a formal peace treaty was not signed until April 17, 1986. In 1834 Augustus Smith succeeded the Godolphins as the islands' lessee, and in 1933 the main islands were handed over to the British crown.

      Only five of the islands—St. Mary's, Tresco, St. Martin's, Bryher, and St. Agnes—are inhabited. Most of the people live on St. Mary's, which has a harbour at Hugh Town and a museum of Scilly history and prehistory. Bishop Rock Lighthouse (1858), at the islands' western end, is a notable example of 19th-century civil engineering. The economy is based on tourism and on commercial flower growing and vegetable farming, the latter made possible by the prevailing mild climate. Fishing is also significant. There are sea and helicopter services to Penzance, on the mainland. Area 6 square miles (16 square km). Pop. (2001) 2,153.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Scilly Isles — or Scilly Islands [sil′ē] group of about 140 islets off Cornwall, England: c. 6 sq mi (16 sq km): also called Isles of Scilly …   English World dictionary

  • Scilly Isles — Scil|ly Isles also the Isles of Scilly the Scilly Isles a group of about 140 small islands off southwest England, five of which have people living on them. The Scilly Isles are popular with tourists, and the weather there is warmer than in the… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Scilly Isles — Scillonian /si loh nee euhn/, adj., n. /sil ee/ a group of about 140 small islands, SW of Land s End, England. 2020; 61/2 sq. mi. (17 sq. km) Cap.: Hugh Town. Also, Scilly Islands. * * * …   Universalium

  • Scilly Isles — /sɪli ˈaɪlz/ (say silee uylz) noun a group of about 140 small islands in the Atlantic Ocean, south west of Land s End. 17 km2. Capital: Hugh Town. Also, Scilly Islands, Scillies /ˈsɪliz/ (say sileez). –Scillonian /sɪˈloʊniən/ (say si lohneeuhn),… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Scilly Isles — Scillonian /si loh nee euhn/, adj., n. /sil ee/ a group of about 140 small islands, SW of Land s End, England. 2020; 61/2 sq. mi. (17 sq. km) Cap.: Hugh Town. Also, Scilly Islands …   Useful english dictionary

  • Scilly Isles — Scil′ly Isles′ [[t]ˈsɪl i[/t]] n. pl. geg a group of about 140 small islands, SW of Land s End, England. 2428; 6 sq. mi. (16 sq. km) Also called Scil′ly Is′lands …   From formal English to slang

  • Scilly, Isles of — geographical name island group SW England off Land s End comprising 140 islands capital Hugh Town area 6 square miles (16 square kilometers), population 2900 see Cornwall 2 • Scillonian adjective or noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Scilly, Isles of —  Group of islands off Cornwall; adj. Scillonian. Pronounced silly …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Scilly Isles, Surrey — The Scilly Isles (pronounced silly isles)is an area and landmark between the English towns of Esher and Kingston upon Thames, and mark one of the boundaries of Thames Ditton.The area acquired its name during the 1930s when the then new Kingston… …   Wikipedia

  • Scilly Isles Novices' Chase — The Scilly Isles Novices Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt chase in the United Kingdom for five year old and above novices. It is run over a distance of 2 miles 4½ furlongs (4,124 m) at Sandown Park Racecourse in early February. There are… …   Wikipedia

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