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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).