Guernsey, Channel Islands

Ivy Castle, Guernsey, Channel Islands

Ivy Castle - also called Le Château des Marais - is a real curiosity.  It stands today in the least pleasant part of the Channel Islands, an area of urban squallor most unexpected amidst the wealth of the rest of the islands.

The Castle was one of the true medieval Castles of the islands, although it is all but forgotten today next to the might of Cornet, Elizabeth and Orguiel.

The Castle seems to have been in existence by 1244 and may even pre-date Castle Cornet.  It would appear that it was initially an earthwork construction and may even date from before King John lost his French territories - which was when the Channel Islands first became strategically important.  Whatever is the case, the site was poorly chosen and continuous drainage problems meant it was completely remodelled around 1250-1275.  From then on until the Napoleonic Wars it seems that the Castle was used as little more than a refuge for the local populations; although the construction inside its walls of the tiny Chapel of Notre Dame des Marais (which was destroyed during the 1500s) does tend to imply the Castle was used as a place of worship.

The re-fortification during Napoleonic times seems to have followed medieval plans, and although much of the walling we see today dates from those times, it is fair to assume that it follows more or less the look of the original Castle.

The Nazis, as was usual, re-fortified the site during the Occupation, and one of their bunkers is still visible.

The Castle is open during daylight hours, although the area in which it stands is not too pleasant, it is worth a visit - if only because it must qualify as the Channel Islands' only "forgotten" Castle.

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