Thought you might like to no a little of our beautiful Island.......pics t0 A short history of CASTLE CORNET in GUERNSEY
THE CASTLE ROCK
Cornet Rock outside the safe anchorage of St Peter Port in Guernsey was used by people trading between what is now England and France, from early times. There is evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements existed there long before the Castle was built.
THE FIRST CASTLE
When in 1066 William of Normandy, (“William the Conqueror”), became King of England, Guernsey was linked to the English Crown. In 1204 King Philippe Auguste of France took back the mainland of Normandy from King John but Guernsey remained an English possession. Castle Cornet was built as an English stronghold to help to protect the Island’s safe anchorage at St Peter Port.
The first Castle which was begun in the mid 13th Century, had a Chapel, a half round tower and a square tower; all of which were defended by walls, a ditch and a drawbridge. Archaeological evidence shows that vivid colours that were used to decorate such areas as the Great Hall.
THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE
There was a constant threat of attack from France during the 14th and 15th centuries. The Castle suffered great damage during these troubled times. In 1338 the Castle was captured and held for seven years and there is archaeological evidence of the many medieval weapons used in the Castle at this time. These are on display in ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ Museum and enable us to imagine what everyday life in the Medieval Castle would have been like.
By the end of the Medieval period, parts of the Castle had been rebuilt and made stronger. A Donjon (Keep) and a Barbican (outer defensive passageway) were added.
THE TUDOR CASTLE
During the 16th century, Henry VIII ordered the Castle to be strengthened against new artillery weapons. The changes were carried out under several governors and continued into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Paul Ivy, the foremost military engineer of his day, was responsible for much its construction. He carried out work at Dover Castle and also at Elizabeth Castle in Jersey and was the first to apply Italian ideas to English sites by introducing the ‘bastion’ which provided additional defence from its angled faces. The Castle owes much of its present appearance to this work.
A bronze ‘Falcon’ cannon in one of the museums illustrates early artillery defence. Made in the 16th century this cannon had a maximum range of some 1300 paces with a full charge of 2.5 pounds of gunpowder.
CASTLE CORNET DURING THE CIVIL WAR
With the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, Castle Cornet under the Governor Peter Osborne remained loyal to the King. Guernsey supported the Parliamentarians and the Castle was under siege for nearly nine years. Although occasionally supplied by ships from Royalist Jersey, The garrison suffered many hardships during the siege.
THE CASTLE AS PRISON
Castle Cornet was continually used as a prison. Indeed, an old Guernsey expression for being sent to gaol was ‘avoir une vue du Chateau’ (to have a view from the Castle). Victims of religious intolerance were held here during the reformation, including three women who were burnt at the stake. During the English Civil War, three parliamentary commissioners who were imprisoned there escaped over the walls by making ropes out of old musket match.
After the English Civil War, when Charles II regained the throne, General Sir John Lambert was imprisoned in the Castle from1661 to 1670. He was one of Oliver Cromwell’s most highly regarded supporters but did not sign Charles 1 death warrant so escaped the death sentence - being instead banished to a ‘barbarous and distant place’. He is believed to have spent much of his time gardening in the Castle and to have introduced the Guernsey Lily to the island.
THE GREAT EXPLOSION
In 1672 gunpowder kept in the Donjon exploded during a thunderstorm. The explosion killed seven people including the young wife and the mother of the Governor, Lord Hatton. It destroyed the Tower, Chapel and Governor`s residences, greatly altering the appearance of the Castle and from that time, no Governor has lived here. Many artefacts were buried in the rubble of the explosion, some of which are on display in the ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ Museum. A facsimile of part of Lady Cecilia Hatton’s will, the wife of the Governor, is also exhibited. Poignantly, it was written in Castle Cornet only six months before she died and her bequests reveal a gentle, caring nature.
A BURIAL IN THE CASTLE
A skeleton was found during the archaeological excavations with a gold coin in the area of its stomach, perhaps swallowed or placed there as a burial memento. The coin was a Spanish pistole made in 1614, known familiarly in pirate stories, as a ‘doubloon’. The story behind this find is unknown.
THE 18TH CENTURY CASTLE
Women and children lived amongst the English garrisons in the Castle. There are exhibits in the ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ museum which show the domestic life of the Castle. For example, a sampler embroidered in Castle Cornet by 10 year old Isabella Aldridge, the daughter of a soldier.
The 18th century, with the international tension of the French wars saw the construction of two new barracks blocks where the ‘Maritime Museum’ and the ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ are housed today. Two bombproof casemates were also constructed under the citadel in the late 18th century.
THE 19TH CENTURY CASTLE
By the 1790s Castle Cornet was considered cramped, with difficult access and within easy range of artillery. This resulted in a new fort being built on the southern end of St. Peter Port. Fort George was completed in 1812 and many of the soldiers were moved out of the Castle. However, the Castle continued to defend the harbour with its guns The ‘Traversing Gun’ at the southern end of the Castle exemplifies the Castle`s defences at this time. The artillery garrisons left in the Castle are represented in one of the museums as figures of two gunners standing stiffly to attention from the late Victorian era and the First World War respectively.
THE GERMAN OCCUPATION
The Castle was the ‘Hafenschlosss’ (harbour Castle) during the occupation of Guernsey by German forces from 1940 until 1945. The occupying forces built air raid shelters and platforms for anti aircraft guns to update the Castle for 20th century warfare. An example of a German flak (anti - aircraft) gun, similar to those which were in the Castle to defend the harbour from attack by allied aircraft is on show in the ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ museum.
THE CASTLE AS A MUSEUM
In 1947 King George VI presented Castle Cornet to the Islanders of Guernsey as a gift in token of their loyalty during the two World Wars. Since that time it has been maintained and developed as a visitor attraction by the States of Guernsey. </
Castle cornet at night.... Stunning
Sunset behind castle cornet
I would also like to tell people that Guernsey is a wonderful place to live its tranquill in its self, although there are some people who wish to disgrace our Island, which I think is shameful, yes Guernsey has its problems like everywhere else but it is a wonderful place to bring up children, and have a good family life, so please dont belive everything you here, the people who disgrace our Island dont seem to have a problem living in it..............