Monday, June 9, 2008

Searching for Regency England

One trip we made in the Spring was to a place I had never visited before. Jersey. Very interesting place, brought to England by William the Conqueror in 1066 with his Normandy holdings, it has remained part of England ever since.

It lies about 14 miles off the French Normandy coast. Much closer to France than to Britain. We could see it from the top of one of the castles we visited.

Yes it has two castles, one of them, Mont Orgueil Castle, yes a very French name as are most of the place names and Streets on Jersey. A castle in this location dates back to 1212.

If you like castles, or are interested in the medieval era this one is so much fun and is beautifully preserved and very accessible to the explorer. However there are lots of narrow winding stairs. We spent a full afternoon there and felt we could have spent longer. But apart from the fact that it stood there during the Georgian era, it really is not very relevant.


The other castle is Elizabeth castle, built in the mid to late 1500's because Mont Orgueil became out-dated by the use of cannon. Originally a religious site, it was Sir Walter Raleigh who named it after his Queen when he was governor of Jersey. It was built as an artillery fortress. In 1804 it had sixtytwo guns, which included five massive 68-pounders.

The fascinating thing about the casstle is that it is completely surrounded by the sea for seven hours out of every twelve. Only at low tide can you reach the castle on foot. Here is my picture of us walking across the causeway (which is marked). You can see the castle in the distance.

The next picture is a great view back towards the town and shows how the projections in the walls could be used to cover off any attempt to scale the walls from the beach.





While this makes the cast impregnable, but not great for defending the town of St. Helier. In 1781 the French landed at La Rocque, and captured the town, while the garrison sat in the castle. It was an active garrison until 1923.

I of course was thrilled to discover that the barracks are all Georgian.



The parade ground was the centre of the castle and the barracks are now set up as museums.











You can see the castle in the background--above, where the cannons were placed and it was the first defensive works on the island. The building on the left was for officers, with rooms comensurate with rank. and the builing on the left for the common soldiers and their women/children slept in the attics. The women would do work around the barracks, washing for the officers, cooking, while the children would be expected to help out with other jobs.


This is a picture of the barracks and parade ground from above. The end building we can see from this angle was partly destroyed in the 2nd world war and it housed the kitchen. You can see the town and the harbor.








And of course a picture of a cannon. They fired this while we were there. I must say I kept looking at that ocean in case we got stuck. No - not possible, there was an amphibian bus, that went to and fro, tide or no tide.



The last picture is of a Martello tower. These were located all along the coast every few hundred yard and each one could see at least two, one in each direction provided it wasn't foggy. Which it quite often is, I gather.

Lots of them are homes. Very quaint. I wanted one!


You probably know this, but because the de Carterets held Jersey for the King during the Civil War King Charles II granted them a large grant of land in the American colonies of the time. De Carteret named it New Jersey.

I have lots more pictures of both castles, but I think this is a good overview. It is a lovely place with a very mild climate and I highly recommend that you visit if you can.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.