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Historic island fortress off the Devon coast sells for an undisclosed sum

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 27/08/2019 Natalie Cornish
a group of people on a beach near a body of water: Drake's Island off the Plymouth coast houses a 16th century barracks, underground tunnels and a pier. It also has planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa complex. Take a tour © mrtom-uk - Getty Images Drake's Island off the Plymouth coast houses a 16th century barracks, underground tunnels and a pier. It also has planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa complex. Take a tour

A historic island fortress off the Devon coast which has been left untouched since the late 1980s has sold for an undisclosed sum.

Drake's Island has been on the market for £6 million since October 2018. Sitting 600m off Plymouth in the Sound, the six-acre site is made up of a 16th century barracks, a Grade-II listed house, a network of underground tunnels, a Ministry of Defence radio mast and a pier. And it has an interesting history as the starting point for explorer Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the world in 1577.

Aerial View Of Drake´s Island, Plymouth © Blom UK - Getty Images Aerial View Of Drake´s Island, Plymouth

The island has been abandoned since an adventure training centre there closed down in 1989. Before that, the barracks – which were crucial in defending the city from invasion by the Spanish and French in the late sixteenth century – were used as a prison and a refuge.

Now, local businessman and former Royal Navy engineer Morgan Phillips has snapped up the site promising to "restore it for the people of Plymouth and visitors".

He told the BBC he wanted to bring the island back to life by building a living museum and heritage centre, while preserving the historic structures that litter the island. A water sports centre is also under consideration.

Plymouth - Drakes Island © Print Collector - Getty Images Plymouth - Drakes Island

Phillips said: "I'm under no illusions that the people of Plymouth regard Drake's Island as the jewel in the city's crown and they want to enjoy it as soon as they possibly can – indeed, we want the island to be open to the public as often as possible."

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Former owner, ex-Plymouth Argyle football club chairman Dan McCauley, bought Drake's Island in 1995 for £384,000. He hoped to open a luxury hotel and spa complex, but Plymouth City Council have repeatedly refused his applications for planning permission over the past 20 years. Last year, the council finally gave plans for a 25-bedroom hotel, costing £10 million, the green light.

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