Welcome to Piel Island, a small British gem where an extraordinary opportunity awaits!
Discover how this tiny island will make anyone a king or queen, but there's an intriguing catch you won't want to miss.
When it comes to dreams and aspirations, there's something undeniably captivating about being the king. From ancient tales to modern-day fantasies, everyone secretly yearns for a taste of that royal power.
But did you know there's an island out there where you can achieve your dream even with no royal lineage in your blood?
Welcome To Piel Island
Let's take a trip back in time to Piel Island, a tiny landmass with a big story to tell.
For thousands of years, humans have left their mark on this place, making it a local legend, according to the website.
As the island's history unfolded, a quirky name emerged: Foudray. It was bestowed upon Piel by Scandinavian settlers at the time.
Foudray meant "fire island" in Old Norse, like a flaming beacon guiding boats through the treacherous waters.
A Growing Area
In 1127, Piel Island found itself in the hands of the Savignac monks. King Stephen, feeling generous, handed it over to them as part of their abbey land deal.
The monks transformed the land into Furness Abbey.
King John even lent a helping hand, granting the Abbey permission to import a boatload of wheat and provisions to Piel during a famine.
With the bustling trade between Piel and the Abbey's Irish lands, you can bet there was a solid structure to accommodate all those precious cargos. They called it the "Port of Furness."
They Needed Protection
In 1327, they were granted permission to fortify their existing dwelling house by making a motte and bailey castle! It was like a fortified warehouse built to safeguard precious cargo from pirates and raiders.
Little did the Abbey know, this castle did more than repel pirate crews. It also kept the King's customs men at bay.
Smuggling At The Castle
They called it the "Pile of Fotheray" (which translates to Piel Island), and it had a reputation. Rumor has it that Furness Abbey had a side gig as a smuggling hotspot.
In fact, in 1423, the merchants in Calais had enough and complained about the Abbey smuggling wool from Piel without coughing up the proper dues.
The Castle Was Fortified
Fast forward six years, with the looming threat of invasion, the castle received a makeover. It got a fresh coat of paint and some renovations, all in the name of defense. The Abbey's tenants had to step up too, supplying men and arms to keep those invaders at bay.
It was like a medieval fortress with a lively crew ready to protect their smuggling secrets.
A Wannabe King
Piel Island couldn't escape the spotlight in the 15th century. Enter Colonel Martin Swartz and his gang of German mercenaries, landing on the island on a fateful day in 1487. Their mission?
To help Lambert Simnel claim the English Crown. Simnel boldly declared himself the Earl of Warwick and the rightful King of England.
Wasn't Meant To Be
Alas, their dreams were crushed when the King's forces defeated them at the Battle of Stoke on June 16th, and when Simnel did make it to London, it was as a prisoner, not as King.
But that's not where Piel's interesting history with Kinghood ends!
The Ship Inn
The late 19th century saw a lively buzz in Piel Channel as social activities soared. Pleasure boating became all the rage, attracting countless enthusiasts seeking leisurely adventures.
Many found solace at the Ship Inn, and the landlord borrowed a page out of Simnel's book when it came to royalty.
What's the Ship Inn?
According to the website, the first written referral to the Inn was as follows: "There is a public-house on the island, the only habitation, tenanted by an old Scotchman, who has been lord of this domain for many years, and goes through the duties of guide and expositor among the ruins of the castle with admirable fluency."
This is basically the role the landlord of the Inn still has!
The Inn And Its Knights
But the landlord of the Ship Inn isn't just any landlord!
The website states, "One of the most enduring aspects of the Ship Inn is the tradition of the king and knights of Piel."
A Royal Tradition
At Piel Island, every new landlord partakes in a mysterious tradition. They are crowned the "King of Piel," seated in an ancient chair, donning a helmet and wielding a sword.
The ritual concludes with a libation, as alcohol cascades over their regal head. Long live the King of Piel!
A Longstanding Ceremony
In the early days, the King of Piel donned not only a helmet but also oilskins. The first traces of this ceremony date back to the visitors' book of 1856, where mentions of Knights of Piel emerged.
There's also graffiti on the throne itself that shows how long this ceremony has been happening!
Homage To Simnel
Legend has it that the ceremony traces its roots back to Lambert Simnel's arrival in 1487, evolving into a playful homage to Simnel's insistence that he was the rightful King of England.
It is now such an important part of the island's history and tradition that looking after the helmet and the chair is actually included in the tenancy agreement.
In the early stages, the ceremony for knights and the king was intertwined, but as time passed, variations emerged.
Accounts in the visitors' books depict the knights as esteemed members of the "Noble Ancient Castle of Piel."
An Easy Job
What does it take to be the King or even a Knight of Piel?
According to the website, it's pretty simple. The King and Knights of Piel are pretty much free-spirited individuals who enjoy having a good time!
It's A Big Commitment
If you're interested in becoming the landlord of the Ship Inn and, therefore, the rightful King or Queen of Piel Island, you better be ready to commit!
The contract for the job is ten years long at minimum.
More Than Just An Innkeeper
You're not just responsible for the Inn either! The role of the landlord extends beyond the Ship Inn, encompassing the caretaking of significant portions of Piel Island. From the tourist-frequented "campground" areas to the well-maintained public bathrooms, these responsibilities fall within the landlord's domain.
They become the custodian of both hospitality and island infrastructure.
Not The Castle-Keeper
But if you're worried about the upkeep of the castle, you don't have to!
Despite the landlord being the King or Queen of the island, the castle itself isn't under their responsibility. That falls on English Heritage.
What's It Really Like?
What is life actually like for the royalty and other caretakers of Piel Island?
Ann Thompson, in charge of the local council of the area, spoke to the New York Times about the realities of life on the island.
It Can Get Lonely
The King or Queen of Piel better be able to handle a lot of solitude!
"While there are periods when the pub and the island is bustling with people, there will be periods of quiet, too. [That's] something the successful applicant will need to embrace," Thompson said.
Six Months Of Solitude
Between April and September, when visitors to the island can camp out, it can be a lively place.
That being said, for the remaining half of the year, you might just be on your own!
You're Not (Totally) Alone On The Island
You might be wondering if anyone other than the landlord and their family lives on the island, and the answer is yes, but only two other people have "full-time" year-round positions!
Hopefully, they get along with the ruler!
A Lot To Talk About
John Murphy also spoke about Piel Island to The New York Times, too.
Murphy has been giving tours of Piel Island for 40 years, so he definitely knows what he's talking about!
Use Your Imagination
"It's a very tranquil place," Murphy said. "If you don’t have any customers, you have to be a Robinson Crusoe and enjoy the facilities that you’ve got in your mind."
Any good King or Queen should have a good imagination!
Winters Are Rough
"[Winters are] very harsh indeed," Murphy said. “We're not talking about St. Lucia or the Hawaiian islands [here]."
"We’re talking about a small and very isolated island in the north of England.”
It's also not as easy as you might think to get to the neighboring island. The trip between the two islands depends on the tide because when it goes out, it reveals a small sandy pathway. If you miss the tide, there's only one way to get across.
"[It's] a rowing boat with a little engine on the back," Murphy admitted.
So What Do You Think?
Does it sound worth all the isolation and extra responsibility to take up the throne of Piel Island and be appointed the King or the Queen?
Would you take the crown?