Elizabeth Castle was built to the site of earlier Catholic St. Helier abbey. The monastic buildings were finally taken over by the Crown at the Reformation. Surviving buildings were used for military purposes. The construction of the Elizabeth castle was started in 1594 when the power of cannon meant that the existing stronghold at Mont Orgueil was insufficient to defend the Island and the port of St. Helier was vulnerable to attack by ships armed with cannon. This work was carried out by the Flemish military engineer Paul Ivy.

Sir Walter Raleigh, the Governor of Jersey between 1600 and 1603, named the castle Elizabeth Castle after Elizabeth I of England. 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.

The castle was first used in a military context during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Charles II visited the castle in 1646 and 1649, staying in the Governor's House, and was proclaimed King by governor Sir George Carteret despite the abolition of the monarchy in England. 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 mediaeval Abbey church in the heart of the castle complex which had been used as the storehouse for ammunition and provisions forced Carteret to surrender, and Jersey was held by Parliamentarians for nine years. In 1668, or shortly afterwards, King William's Gate was constructed, which is located between the Outer Ward, and Lower Ward.

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. A two-story barracks hospital building was constructed in the early 19th century. 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.

During the 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.

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Founded: 1594
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Dan Hare (16 months ago)
Great place to stay, very comfortable apartment, cut off from civilisation twice a day
JULIE BARROW (2 years ago)
We decided to visit the island and castle today and had no idea travelling there was so novel! Lovely gentleman in the gift shop greeted us with a smile. The 9 minute trip is lovely on a warm day. The castle himself was absolutely seeping with history. Covid friendly but didn't spoil our visit . Clear sigh posts made sure we missed nothing . Allow a good 2 hours . Very detailed. Very very informative. we had a lovely lunch in the little cafe and ate on the roof top garden. Food fresh and high-quality. The young lady and her assistant were very polite and professional. Thank you for a absolutely lovely day.
Liz Nemeth (2 years ago)
It was a visit during Covid-times, the place was organised accordingly to help us making the less amount of contact. Our guide was brilliant and she has a lot entertaining stories about the history of castle. It was worth spending that hour with her. We also could experience the great hospitality of Jersey people, we could sense their pride of their history and living community from every worlds and directions. The castle is well presented, you can spend there a lot of hours without boredom. At sunny days there are good opportunities for great photographs as well.
Nicola Antoinette (2 years ago)
Brilliant castle. Take the boat/bus over. Lots of things to see when on the island, including a couple of interesting museums and a cafe if you fancy refreshments. Highly recommend.
linda (2 years ago)
Have been to Jersey many times but, until now, missed this great attraction. The ferry over is fun and takes 8 minutes. Plenty to see and the musket demonstration was both entertaining and informative. Great views and worth a visit.
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