Top historic sites in Guernsey

Town Church

Originally known as Sancti Petri de Portu, many regard the Town Church as the Cathedral Church and the finest in the Channel Islands. The first mention of the church in official documents was in 1048 when it is thought to have been given to the Abbot of Marmoutier by William of Normandy. It is likely that the original building was made of wood. The current building was built over a 200 year period with the chancel complet ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Fort Grey

Fort Grey is a Martello tower located on a rock in Rocquaine Bay. It was previously the site of local witches' Sabbaths. The existing fort, with its white tower was originally built as a defence by the British in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, it was named after Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey, who was Governor of Guernsey from 1797 to 1807. The Fort Grey tower, like the other two Guernsey Martello towers, Fort Saumarez an ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Castel Church

Pagans, Pirates and Romans have all been linked with the site now occupied by Castel Church. Outside the main door can be seen the Neolithic Statue Menhir found under the floor of the church during the 19th century. At its foot lie the stone seats for the official of the medieval court of Fief St Michel. The church of ‘Our Lady of Deliverance’ to use its ancient title, was first mentioned in a papal document d ...
Founded: 1155 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Little Chapel

The Little Chapel created in July 1914 by Brother Déodat. He planned to create a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes, the Rosary Basilica. It has been said that it is the smallest functioning chapel in Europe, if not the world, and it is believed to be the world’s smallest consecrated church. The chapel was originally 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide. After taking criticism from other brother ...
Founded: 1914 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Castle Cornet

Formerly a tidal island, Cornet Rock was first fortified as a castle between 1206 and 1256, following the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. In 1339 when a French force captured the island and occupied it for several years, Cornet was besieged and captured, and the garrison massacred. With the advent of cannon and gunpowder, the castle was remodelled between 1545 and 1548. Prof. John Le Patourel, in The Building o ...
Founded: 1206-1256 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Victoria Tower

Victoria Tower is a monument erected in honor of a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the island in 1846. As the 1846 royal visit was the first time a reigning monarch had ever visited the island, a small granite stone was laid to mark where the queen had first stepped ashore in St Peter Port harbour. The following year, the architect William Colling was asked to draw up plans for a tower to commemorate the mona ...
Founded: 1848 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

St. Saviour's Church

St. Saviour"s is the largest of the Guernsey country churches and stands at the top of a valley overlooking the reservoir. Part of this impressive church was built in the 12th century but most of it dates to the 14th and 15th centuries. It took five months to construct and was dedicated and consecrated on 30 May 1154. However, the first mention of St Saviour"s Church is in a charter from about 1030. On Sunday ...
Founded: 1154 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Fort Hommet

Fort Hommet (or Fort Houmet) was built on the site of fortifications dating back to 1680, and consists of a Martello tower from 1804, later additions during the Victorian Era, and bunkers and casemates that the Germans constructed during World War II. The Martello tower was constructed after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant GovernorGeneral Sir John Doyle. To simplify matte ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Vale Church

Vale Church is one of Guernsey"s most ancient churches and a former priory. Somewhere around A.D. 968, monks, from the Benedictine monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, came to Guernsey to establish a community in the North of the Island. This area of Guernsey would form a separate island at high tide, and continued to do so until 1806. The last remaining stonework is a piece of buttressed wall to the South of the church, by th ...
Founded: c. 968 AD | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

St. Sampson's Church

St. Sampson"s Church is dedicated to Samson of Dol, who brought Christianity to Guernsey in about 550 AD. Claimed to be the oldest Parish Church in the Island, the church stands on or near the site where St Sampson first landed as a pioneer missionary from Dol, in Brittany, about the year 550 AD, and has been a Christian site for worship ever since. The present church dates from the 12th century, at which time it co ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Sausmarez Manor

The first mention of the de Sausmarez family in Guernsey is at the consecration of the Vale church in 1115 followed by a letter dated 1254 in which Prince Edward, Lord of the Isles, afterwards King Edward I, ordered an enquiry into the rights of the Abbot and Monks of St. Michel to 'wreck' in the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Of this oldest manor house only a fragment remains. Its rough but remarkably solid st ...
Founded: 1873 | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Le Déhus

Le Déhus is a fine Neolithic bottle shaped Passage Chamber with four side chambers off the entrance passage. Today there are six side chambers but two were erronously constructed during restoration. Side chamber first on the right was found to contain the bones of two individuals, kneeling side by side and facing in opposite directions, their bodies being supported by tightly packed earth and shells. The sixth cap ...
Founded: 3500 - 2000 BC | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

La Varde Passage Grave

La Varde is an 11m long bottle shaped passage grave with 6 capstones and a small oval recess towards the rear. It dates back to Neolithic Age (3000-2500 BC). Originally covered by a mound 18m in diameter and a peristalith. The mound has been partially restored and two capstones are supported by modern pillars. Two layers of paving were recorded above and between which burnt and unburnt human bones, limpet shells and pebbl ...
Founded: 3000-2500 BC | Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.