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St George's Island (aka Looe Island)

Yodare Island of the Week No.6 St George’s Island

Located just a a short distance off the Cornish coast by Looe, St George’s Island has an interesting past…….

Not many English islands can claim to have been visited by Jesus, but according to legend it is believed he visited the Island with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, who traded with the Cornish tin traders. This legend resulted in St George’s island (Looe Island) becoming a place of pilgrimage for early Christians and a small thatched roofed chapel was built there.

In the later medieval period, the island came under the overall control of Glastonbury Abbey and was known as St Michael’s Island, but after the dissolution of the monasteries it was rededicated as St George’s Island. Through the 17th and 18th centuries the island was used (like many such islands in this area) by smugglers to avoid the British Government’s revenue cutters out of Plymouth and Falmouth.

Having finally rid the island of smugglers it was sold  by the Crown to Sir John Trelawny in 1743. The island remained in the hands of the Trelawny family for a further three centuries.

In 1965 Looe Island was bought by two middle-aged spinster sisters from Epsom in Surrey. Evelyn ‘Attie’ Atkins and Roselyn ‘Babs’ Atkins had dreamt of spending their remaining years together on island and after borrowing £22,000 that’s exactly what they did. The Atkins sisters spent many happy years on the island living in Island House with Evelyn writing two books about their experience; We Bought an Island (1976) and Tales from our Cornish Island (1986). After Evelyn died in1997 Babs remained on the island alone until she passed away at the ripe old age of 86 in 2004. On her death, the island was bequeathed to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is preserved as a nature reserve in perpetuity.