Mont Orgueil

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Mont Orgueil
Gorey Castle
Saint Martin, Jersey
Lé Vièr Châté Septembre 2009.jpg
Mount Orgueil from the south
Mont Orgueil German occupation alterations Jersey.jpg
Mont Orgueil is located in Channel Islands
Mont Orgueil
Mont Orgueil
Site information
Owner People of Jersey
Controlled by Jersey Heritage Trust
Open to
the public
Yes
Condition Intact
Site history
Built 1204–1450
In use 1204–1945
Materials Granite

Mont Orgueil is a castle in Jersey, which overlooks the harbour of Gorey. It is also called Gorey Castle by English-speakers, and lé Vièr Châté (the Old Castle) by Jèrriais-speakers.

The site had been fortified in the prehistoric period, but the construction of the castle was undertaken following the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. The castle was first mentioned in 1212.[1]

The castle was the primary defence of Jersey until the development of gunpowder which then rendered the castle ultimately indefensible from Mont Saint Nicholas, the adjacent hill which overlooks the castle. Mont Orgueil was updated with platforms for artillery constructed in 1548 and 1549 under the direction of Henry Cornish, Lieutenant of the Earl of Hertford in Jersey. Cornish complained that earlier repairs to the donjon by Robert Raymont had left it so weak it was vulnerable to musket shot; "lyke a nadyl eye scarse abyll to byde a hagboshe." In 1543 he had asked for a 'saker' cannon which would cover the sands between 'Grovyll' and the castle, where the French had landed in the past.[2]

Mont Orgueil was to be superseded by Elizabeth Castle off Saint Helier, the construction of which commenced at the end of the 16th century. Walter Raleigh, Governor of Jersey in 1600, rejected a plan to demolish the old castle[3] in order to recycle the stone for the new fortifications with the words: "'twere pity to cast it down".

Mont Orgueil (French: Mount Pride) has guarded Jersey's east coast since the 13th century

The old castle continued to be used as the island's only prison until the construction of a prison in St. Helier at the end of the 17th century. The Crown found it expedient to send troublesome agitators such as William Prynne and John Lilburne to Mont Orgueil far from the realm of England. The regicides Thomas Waite, Henry Smith, James Temple, Hardress Waller and Gilbert Millington were transferred to Mont Orgueil in 1661.

A report for the States of Jersey in 1691 declared that the barracks accommodation was so dilapidated that it was impossible to quarter troops there. Two years later, the castle was stated to be in a ruinous condition and subsequently was abandoned as a prison. This was because Elizabeth Castle had been built and the castle was neglected and not needed any more.

Repairs were carried out 1730–1734 and for the rest of the century parts of the castle were adapted for garrison accommodation. In 1800 the Corbelled Tower was fitted out for use by Admiral Philippe d'Auvergne as his headquarters for the secret service organisation he was running in Brittany and mainland Normandy.

In 1846 the castle was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The castle has also hosted subsequent royal ceremonies to welcome George V in 1921 and Elizabeth II; inscriptions mark the occasions.

Until the second half of the 19th century the castle was open to the public on one day a year, Easter Monday, and crowds used to flock from all over the Island. This is believed to be a survival of the pre-Reformation custom of visiting St. George's Chapel inside the castle on St. George's Day.

In a generally ruinous state at the time of its handover to the people of Jersey by the Crown on 28 June 1907, Mont Orgueil has been managed as a museum site since 1929, although during the Second World War German Occupation (1940–1945) the occupying forces garrisoned the castle and added modern fortifications camouflaged to blend in with existing structures.

The heritage site has been managed by the Jersey Heritage Trust since 1994. In the early 21st century, the Trust planned to build a Tudor hall within the castle's keep. Around the same time, a £3 million grant was given to fund restoration work.[3] In 2004, a commemorative Jersey pound note was put into circulation depicting Mont Orgueil. The castle is depicted on the 2010 issue Jersey 50 pound note. On 2 April 2006, after a long building programme the castle was reopened to the public by the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey. Restoration work has opened up previously inaccessible areas of the castle to the public. Newly built additions in modern style have enclosed sections of the castle and made them weatherproof, parts of the structure have been reinterpreted, and artistic interventions in the grounds and structure of the castle have provided attractions for visitors.

See also[edit]

Fort Regent

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cathcart King 1983, p. 543
  2. ^ HMC, Seymour Papers, vol.4 (1967), pp.85-86, 91, 106-8.
  3. ^ a b The Battle of Mont Orgueil Castle, BBC Online, 3 March 2003, retrieved 27 March 2011 
  • Cathcart King, David James (1983), Castellarium Anglicanum: An Index and Bibliography of the Castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II: Norfolk–Yorkshire and the Islands, London: Kraus International Publications, ISBN 0-527-50110-7 
  • Customs, Ceremonies & Traditions of the Channel Islands, Lemprière, London 1976, ISBN 0-7091-5842-4
  • Rybot, N. V. J. (1958), Gorey Castle (le chateau Mont Orgueil) 

External links[edit]