Grosnez Castle is a ruined castle built by Sir John des Roches around 1330. The castle's purpose was to provide local farmers with a place of refugee from French attacks. The French captured however the castle in 1373 and 1381. The castle was probably demolished around the time of the French occupation of Jersey (1461–1468). In 1483 the Seigneur of St Ouen was allowed to fortify his manor house and it is unlikely he would have been given permission if Grosnez was still in use. In 1806, a naval signal station was established at Grosnez to send messages to Guernsey.
The castle's position on a clifftop 60 m above the sea means that the natural features of the site protect it on three sides. A ditch dug into the rock provides protection on the fourth side. The remains of ruined walls, mostly footings, are still present. A drawbridge and portcullis protected the gatehouse, which is the only substantial surviving remnant, and would have made it difficult to capture. There are traces of six simple buildings.
The name comes from the old Norse words for 'grey headland' - grar nes - an accurate description of the site when seen from the sea, rather than from the French for big nose. A nearby headland to the west has a similar name, Rouge Nez.References:
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).