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

Caleb Jones (7 months ago)
People were getting their heads drilled!!! ---------------------- Ignore (For LG points) Knowing that millions of people around the world would be watching in person and on television and expecting great things from him — at least one more gold medal for America, if not another world record — during this, his fourth and surely his last appearance in the World Olympics, and realizing that his legs could no longer carry him down the runway with the same blazing speed and confidence in making a huge, eye-popping leap that they were capable of a few years ago when he set world records in the 100-meter dash and in the 400-meter relay and won a silver medal in the long jump, the renowned sprinter and track-and-field personality Carl Lewis, who had known pressure from fans and media before but never, even as a professional runner, this kind of pressure, made only a few appearances in races during the few months before the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, partly because he was afraid of raising expectations even higher and he did not want to be distracted by interviews and adoring fans who would follow him into stores and restaurants demanding autographs and photo-opportunities, but mostly because he wanted to conserve his energies and concentrate, like a martial arts expert, on the job at hand: winning his favorite competition, the long jump, and bringing home another Gold Medal for the United States, the most fitting conclusion to his brilliant career in track and field.
Chris Curran (9 months ago)
Great visit with the highlight being demonstration led by the Gun Sergeant Major. Helped me understand the history of the forts, tough life of those stationed there and the strategic importance that the island held for England (& later UK). The Sergeant Major looks for volunteers - be careful if you don't fancy doing some drill! - but it does mean you might be lucky enough to take part in the firing of the working cannon. Must forget that transport over to the island is by an amphibious vehicle - all part of the fun
Sheila Sheila (9 months ago)
We really enjoyed our visit here. Lovely weather, nice walks and interesting enactments. Views were beautiful from the castle and coming over on the ferry. Recommended.
Sarah Hatton (9 months ago)
An excellent day out for all the family. You can spend several hours walking around the castle grounds as well as watching some of the demonstrations. The site is large and well looked after, you can get a paper guide at the entrance to the castle grounds however, if you don't, you can still wander around and see the amazing views. The demonstrations are well worth watching, with the individuals being very knowledgeable on the history of the castle and subjects they talk about. The views from the castle as well as of the grounds itself are fabulous; definitely take a camera! You'd need to be relatively mobile to get around the grounds as there are many stairs and small rooms to go up and into to.
Alison Moar (11 months ago)
A stunning castle with so much to do! The "duck" ferry here is also fun. The only downside is that people who don't read English fluently or aren't with someone who does wouldn't get much from looking at the museum exhibits. The living history people, and guides are fantastic, and you can see a musket and a cannon fired. You can also climb right to the top of the castle.
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