Fort Hommet (or Fort Houmet) was built on the site of fortifications dating back to 1680, and consists of a Martello tower from 1804, later additions during the Victorian Era, and bunkers and casemates that the Germans constructed during World War II.
The Martello tower was constructed after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant GovernorGeneral Sir John Doyle. To simplify matters, Doyle had a local builder named Gray construct the tower, and two others, see below, under the rubric of 'fieldworks', thereby bypassing the Ordnance Corps.
The Fort Hommet tower, like the other two Guernsey martello towers, Fort Grey and Fort Saumarez, was intended as a keep for the battery in which it was placed. The Guernsey martellos are all smaller than the British martello towers, with the Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet towers being smaller than the Fort Grey tower. Each mounted a 24-pounder carronade on the roof to support the battery. Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet also have exterior staircases up to the second floor.
During the Victorian Era, the fort received additional batteries and barracks. In 1852, 68-pounder and 8' shell guns replaced some of the 24-pounder guns in the batteries.
The largest addition, however, occurred during World War II and the German occupation of the Channel Islands. The Germans recognized the enduring utility of the site and fortified it further, creating the Stützpunkt (Strongpoint) Rotenstein.
After the liberation of Guernsey in 1945, the British Army and the islanders stripped the fortifications. By the late 1940s all the metal fittings including guns and blast doors had been removed for scrap. Many of the bunkers including the gun-casemate at Fort Hommet, were buried in an attempt to return the coastal landscape to its pre-war condition.
More recently, the States of Guernsey have restored parts of the fort, and particularly the Fort Hommet 10.5 cm Coastal Defence Gun Casement Bunker. This is now open to visitors, though with restrictive hours.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.