Guernsey, Channel Islands

Castle Cornet, Guernsey, Channel Islands

When King John lost all his French possessions, the Channel Islands were suddenly thrust into the frontline of the medieval world.

Thus it was that Castle Cornet (and Mont Orguiel on Jersey) came into being.

Castle Cornet was built to protect the harbour of St. Peter Port (akin to the position of the much later Elizabeth Castle to St. Helier).  Work began in 1206 and continued until 1256, with the bulk of the work happening in the 1220s.  The Castle followed a keep and concentric walls type of plan, common in English Castles of the time, and it keeps to more or less that kind of plan today.

The Castle was constructed on a small islet, which was still an islet until relatively recently (meaning that a Castle was needed to protect the mainland - the now all but vanished Castle at Jerbourg to the south built in the 1330s).

During the Hundred Years War Castle Cornet (and indeed Guernsey) was occupied by French Forces on two separate occasions, during which time Jerbourg Castle was all but destroyed. After the second Occupation some reinforcement work was done to Castle Cornet.  Otherwise the Castle's main function was as the administrative seat of, first, the whole of the Channel Islands and then later the Bailiwick of Guernsey (Jersey becoming a separate entity during Henry VII's rule).

As usual the Nazis used the the Castle for a fortification during the World War II Occupation, their concrete tower being at the highest point on the Castle.

The Castle is open to the public, and contains several museums.

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