Castle Cornet

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Castle Cornet
Part of Guernsey, Channel Islands
Saint Peter Port Harbour, Saint Peter Port
Castle Cornet Guernsey.jpg
Castle Cornet stands on the former tidal island of Little Russel.
Cornet Rock position.png
Location of Cornet Rock (red) within Saint Peter Port (white)
Type Norman castle with keep
Height Up to 13 metres (43 ft)
Site information
Owner Bailiwick of Guernsey
Open to
the public
Condition Partially restored
Site history
Built c.1206 - 1256
In use Until mid 19th century
Materials Diorite Ashlar
Battles/wars French Invasion of 1338
English Civil War
Events Hundred Years' War
Napoleonic Wars
German Occupation of Guernsey

Castle Cornet is a large island castle in Guernsey, and former tidal island, also known as Cornet Rock or Castle Rock, which has been part of one of the breakwaters of St Peter Port's harbour, the main one in the island, since 1859.


The island measures about two hectares in area, with a length of 175 metres and a width of 130 metres. It lies not quite 600 metres east of the coast of Guernsey.


Formerly a tidal island, like Lihou on the west coast of Guernsey, it was first fortified as a castle between 1206 and 1256, following the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204. In 1339 when a French force captured the island and occupied it for several years, Cornet was besieged and captured, and the garrison massacred.

With the advent of cannon and gunpowder, the castle was remodelled between 1545 and 1548. Prof. John Le Patourel, in The Building of Castle Cornet mentions that in 1566, iron and hammers were taken to "Creavissham" (i.e. Crevichon), and that island quarried for the castle.

During the English Civil War (1642–1651), under the command of Colonel Roger Burges the castle was the last Royalist garrison to surrender.[1]

It served as official residence of the Governor of Guernsey until 1672 when the keep was catastrophically destroyed. A bolt of lightning struck the magazine of the castle, destroying the keep and a number of living quarters. The Governor at the time was Lord Hatton. His mother, wife and a number of members of staff were killed in the explosion.

It became integrated into the breakwater after the period of the Napoleonic Wars.

Along the breakwater, a pond for toy yachts was constructed in 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, which served as a seaplane base during World War I.

During World War II, it was occupied by a small garrison of German troops. It was presented to the people of Guernsey in 1945 by the Crown.

Present day[edit]

The castle incorporates the following museums:

It also has a restaurant, and hosts outdoor theatre performances during the summer months.


External links[edit]


Coordinates: 49°27′10.79″N 2°31′34.8″W / 49.4529972°N 2.526333°W / 49.4529972; -2.526333