Mont Orgueil

Jersey, United Kingdom

Mont Orgueil is a castle in Jersey Island. The site had been fortified in the prehistoric period, but the construction of the castle was undertaken following the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. The castle was first mentioned in 1212. The castle was the primary defence of the Island until the development of gunpowder which then rendered the castle ultimately indefensible from Mont Saint Nicholas, the adjacent hill which overlooks the castle.

Mont Orgueil was updated with platforms for artillery constructed in 1548 and 1549 under the direction of Henry Cornish, Lieutenant of the Earl of Hertford in Jersey. Mont Orgueil was to be superseded by Elizabeth Castle off Saint Helier, the construction of which commenced at the end of 16th century. Walter Raleigh, Governor of Jersey in 1600, rejected a plan to demolish the old castle in order to recycle the stone for the new fortifications.

The old castle continued to be used as the Island's only prison until the construction of a prison in St. Helier at the end of the 17th century. A report for the States of Jersey in 1691 declared that the barracks accommodation was so dilapidated that it was impossible to quarter troops there. Two years later, the castle was stated to be in a ruinous condition and subsequently was abandoned as a prison. This was because Elizabeth Castle had been built and the castle was neglected and not needed any more. Repairs were carried out 1730-1734 and for the rest of century parts of the castle were adapted for garrison accommodation.

In 1800 the Corbelled Tower was fitted out for use by Admiral Philippe d'Auvergne as his headquarters for the secret service organisation he was running in Brittany and mainland Normandy. Until the second half of the 19th century the castle was open to the public on one day a year, Easter Monday, and crowds used to flock from all over the Island. This is believed to be a survival of the pre-Reformation custom of visiting St. George's Chapel inside the castle on St. George's Day. In a generally ruinous state at the time of its handover to the people of Jersey by the Crown on 28 June 1907, Mont Orgueil has been managed as a museum site since 1929, although during the Second World War German Occupation (1940–1945) the occupying forces garrisoned the castle and added modern fortifications camouflaged to blend in with existing structures.

The heritage site has been managed by the Jersey Heritage Trust since 1994. In the early 21st century, the Trust planned to build a Tudor hall within the castle's keep. On 2 April 2006, after a long building programme the castle was reopened to the public by the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey. Restoration work has opened up previously inaccessible areas of the castle to the public. Newly built additions in modern style have enclosed sections of the castle and made them weatherproof, parts of the structure have been reinterpreted, and artistic interventions in the grounds and structure of the castle have provided attractions for visitors.



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Founded: 1204
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Andy Bannister (11 months ago)
Absolutely brilliant castle to visit, especially with kids. Lots of winding passages and stairways to explore; a great dressing up room for little ones; amazing views; great cafe. And the tour guides really know their stuff. One of the best castles we have visited as a family.
sonia cleary (13 months ago)
Great views if you make it to the top. Some signage or maps to help navigate round the labyrinth like doorways and endless stairs would have been helpful. My 16 year old declared it the best castle she's visited which is high praise!
Robin Murfin (13 months ago)
Beautiful panoramic views from 2/3 way up and above. Long climb up steps but my mother managed to reach 2/3 way up aged 89 and recovering from hip operation 5 months earlier. Seating points throughout. Cafe near entrance. Wedding venue. Video of history near entrance and various historical features with descriptions throughout the castle. Hundreds of years of history.
Phil Arton (15 months ago)
It is a proper castle that soars above the surrounding harbour and town. It looks like a sand castle on top of a rocky ridge. Well presented, there are a maze of rooms and passageways to explore. The first challenge was actually finding a route to the very top: worth it as the views are magnificent. 1.5 hours is the minimum to see everything, probably should allow 2 to 3.
Antony Royal (16 months ago)
As castle's go this one gives you a great sense of exploration, with many rooms leading off to other parts of the castle and stairways that all seem to eventually lead to the roof. Where you get great views of the entire area. Try and find the "witches" room and turn one of the many handles. It's worth it to make others in the room jump with surprise. The castle lacks artifacts but does have plentiful info boards and a few video stations. Lots of steps.
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