Castle is a castle and tourist attraction, on a tidal island
within the parish of Saint Helier, Jersey. Construction was started in
the 16th century when the power of cannon meant that the existing
Mont Orgueil was insufficient to defend the Island and
the port of St.
Helier was vulnerable to attack by ships armed with
It is named after Elizabeth I who was the queen of
England around the
time the castle was built.
1.1 16th century
1.1.1 Upper Ward
1.2 17th century
1.2.1 Lower Ward
1.2.2 English Civil War
1.3 18th century
1.3.1 Seven Years' War
1.4 19th century
1.5 20th century
1.6 21st century
2 Historic monument
4 External links
The tidal island called L'Islet (The Islet) lying in Saint Aubin,
Jersey (St Aubin's Bay) became the site of the Abbey (later Priory) of
The Crown confiscated the monastic buildings at the
Reformation. Surviving buildings were used for military purposes.
Upper Ward (foreground).
Construction of the earliest parts of the castle, the Upper Ward
including the Queen Elizabeth Gate, began in 1594. This work was
carried out by the Flemish military engineer Paul Ivy.
Jersey moved their official residence from Mont Orgueil
to Elizabeth Castle.
Walter Raleigh Governor of
Jersey between 1600 and 1603, named the
Castle after Elizabeth I of England.
The Lower Ward in 2008. The long terrace on the right is the barrack
The Lower Ward was constructed, between 1626 and 1636, on the site of
the ruined Abbey church. This area of the castle became a parade
ground, surrounded by a barrack building and officers' quarters. Wells
and cisterns for water existed within this area.
English Civil War
Channel Islands in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
The castle was first used in a military context during the English
Civil War in the 17th century. The Prince of Wales visited the castle
in 1646 and again, but now as Charles II in September 1649, staying in
the Governor's House, having been proclaimed King by governor Sir
George Carteret, despite the abolition of the monarchy in England, in
February 1649. In 1651, a windmill was constructed half-way between
Fort Charles and the Lower Ward. In the same year, the Parliamentarian
forces landed in
Jersey and bombarded the castle with mortars. The
destruction of the medieval Abbey church in the heart of the castle
complex which had been used as the storehouse for ammunition and
provisions forced Carteret to surrender on 15 December 1651 after
being besieged for seven weeks.
Jersey was held by Parliamentarians
for the next nine years until the restoration of the monarchy.
A 1651 depiction of the Castle
In 1668, or shortly afterwards, King William's Gate was constructed,
which is located between the Outer Ward, and Lower Ward.
Seven Years' War
During the Seven Years' War, French prisoners were kept at the island.
Perhaps the most well known was Jean-Louis Le Loutre. The castle was
next involved in conflict in the late 18th century, this time it was
with the French. French troops under Baron Phillipe de Rullecourt
landed in St
Helier on 6 January 1781, and the castle garrison was
marooned. The governor
Moise Corbet was tricked into surrendering to
the French, but the castle garrison under Captain Mulcaster refused to
surrender. The French were eventually defeated by troops under Major
Francis Peirson at the Battle of Jersey. Both Peirson and de
Rullecourt were killed during the battle.
The perceived vulnerability of the Island led to the construction of
Fort Regent on Le Mont de la Ville, purchased by the British
government from the
Vingtaine de la Ville
Vingtaine de la Ville overlooking the Town. Fort
Regent became the site of the main British garrison.
A two-story barracks hospital building was constructed in the early
Pilgrims approaching Elizabeth
Castle at low tide on Saint Helier's
Day Pilgrimage on 17 July 2005
A plan to link the castle to the mainland as part of an ambitious
harbour project in the 19th century was abandoned. A breakwater
linking L'Islet to the Hermitage Rock on which the Hermitage of Saint
Helier is built remains, and is used by anglers.
The British government withdrew the garrison and relinquished the
castle to the States of
Jersey in 1923. The States then opened it to
the public as a museum.
Second World War
Second World War the Germans, who occupied the Channel
Islands, modernised the castle with guns, bunkers and battlements.
After the Liberation, the castle was repaired and was eventually
re-opened to the public.
Each year, on the Sunday closest to St. Helier's Day, 16 July, a
municipal and ecumenical pilgrimage is held to visit the Hermitage. As
part of the pilgrimage an open-air service is held within the castle.
Other cultural events, such as concerts and historical re-enactments
are also held from time to time.
On 4 June 2012, a beacon was lit to celebrate Elizabeth II's 60 years
of reign. A fireworks display followed.
Charming Betty ascending the slipway at Elizabeth Castle, Saint Helier
Jersey Heritage administers the site as a museum. Among the
historical displays is the regimental museum of the Royal Jersey
Militia that holds several centuries of military memorabilia. There is
also a museum that discusses the evolution of cannons and
fortifications that holds several pieces from the nineteenth century,
Every Sunday through the season when the castle is open, a team of
Historical Interpreters recreate the garrison of 1781, at the time of
the battle of Jersey. They give displays of musket and cannon firing,
and civilian life.
Access to the castle is via a causeway from St
Helier at low tide, or
on a castle ferry. There are two ferries, Charming Betty and Charming
Nancy, which are wading vehicles that can reach the castle regardless
of tide height, weather permitting. A one-way trip when the tide is
high takes about 15 minutes.
^ Castles in Jersey[permanent dead link]
^ a b Hoskins, S Elliott. Charles the Second in the Channel Islands
Vol II. Richard Bentley 1854.
Brian Bell (2000), Insight Guide Channel Islands, APA
A CONSERVATION PLAN for ELIZABETH CASTLE, JERSEY
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