Elizabeth Castle

Jersey, United Kingdom

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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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Andy Smith (6 months ago)
If you are visiting Jersey, this is a must-do place to visit. It’s a fantastic castle, steeped in history, with multiple layers over the ages. There is a lot to see here. You can also walk to the castle, get the amphibious vehicles are so much fun or do both. You can walk around most of the castle and the views from the pier behind the castle are worth the walk. There are some rock formations here that are really unique and colourful. It also gives you the perspective from the original foundations to the WWII turret sat on top. This is somewhere I would highly recommend.
Colleen Crowley (6 months ago)
Lived every castle I visited. This was keeping the highlights for the outside grounds. Not so much in side to access. There is a parade about midday and cannon fire demonstration at around 1:00pm check times with the staff upon arrival. Other great point to mention is if you time it correctly you can walk across to the Castle from just around the corner from the St Hellier Liberty bus station. Amazing views of the St Hellier Bay from the top of the castle. Dont worry if you stay out a little longer and the tide comes back in there is an amphibious craft for a small cost that the kids will love.
Michelle Harwood (7 months ago)
Great trip across to Elizabeth Castle. Amphibious bus to cross (or a stroll before the tide comes in). The staff were all amazing and the cannon and musket displays are a must!! Plenty to see (under restoration at the moment) but that didn't spoil the trip. Good facilities in the castle grounds (small cafe, shop and toilets)
Andrea Bailey (7 months ago)
Great amphibious crossing which is fun in its self. Knowledgeable staff and fantastic reenactment by King Charles 2nd. He bought the whole afternoon to life . A nice walk out on the breakwater We went back again for a water amphibious crossing and became involved with a living history experience with "Gilly" the master of arms . He bought such an interesting insight to the days proceedings.
robert english (8 months ago)
Went here Saturday morning while on hoildays. Me and my brother got a 4 for 3 heritage Pass. We got the boat/truck over as the tide was in. The castle is well with a visit if your in Jersey. Lots of history if you like that. We also stoped and had tea and a cream scone in the tea shop that was on site. The tide was out when we left and walked the Causeway back which is about 15 mins walk. Well worth a trip
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