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Guernsey Forts & Museums


Guernsey has a wealth of historic fortifications and visitors to the island will find a fascinating variety from early neolithic works, to castles, forts and watch towers, the most recent built by the Germans during the Occupation from 1940 to 1945. The States of Guernsey has restored many of the fortifications and some are open to the public. 

Castle Cornet

Castle Cornet 17th Century Painting

Built in the 13th century around 1250 on an islet off St Peter Port to defend the island against the French, Castle Cornet has been wonderfully preserved and remains as a living monument to centuries of tradition. The top of the tower was blown off by an explosion in the gunpowder store which killed the Governor’s wife.

Until the 19th century it was on its own island but when the harbour as we see today was extended an arm was built past the castle to form the arm to St Peter Port harbour.

The Castle used to be the residence of the Governor and indeed during the last throws of the English Civil war, it was the last remaining Royalist stronghold, having in the process lobbed canon balls onto the town. Partly for that reason, apart from the Town church many of today’s buildings are of 18th century origin. It was superceded as the principal defence fort by Fort George which was completed in 1812 soon after the outbreak of the French Revolution. 

Castle Cornet

Castle Cornet as it is now

During the occupation by the Germans in the Second World War, it became a strong point with the addition of concrete shelters and anti-aircraft guns.

The castle has several museums including the Story of the Castle, an history of the Royal Guernsey militia, 201 Squadron museum and an excellent maritime museum featuring Guernsey’s colourful maritime history from prehistoric times to the present day. Fishing industries, ship-building and naval history are portrayed. 

The 201 Squadron museum was upgraded in 2001 with new static and computerized displays. The island has had an affiliation with 201 since 1939 when the then Air Minister Sir Kingsley Wood opened the island's new airport and announced the link with the Squadron. Two prized possessions of the Squadron have been donated; Flt Sub-Lt Waneford's official report of the destruction of a Zeppelin over London in 1915 and the Admiralty telegram advising him of his Victoria Cross.

There is also a gift shop, the Refectory Cafe overlooking the harbour and well maintained gardens, including four 'period' gardens; the 16th century Sutler's garden, Lambert's garden named after General Sir John Lambert, based on a Tudor Rose design, the 18th century Governor's garden based on a 1735 design of the castle and the 19th century Master Gunner's garden. Listen out for the noon canon set off by soldiers in costume. Well worth a half day visit.

Open daily from late March to October 10.00am to 5.00pm 

Perry's Ref: 25H1. Castle Emplacement. 15 mins walk from bus terminus. No wheelchair access. Tel: 721657

 

Candie Museum

Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery at Candie Gardens

This award winning museum, the design based on the original Victorian  bandstand which stood on the site, is certainly worth a visit as it maps out the island's ancient history, from Neolithic times,  the Bronze Age, Roman invasion, the arrival of early Saints through to the modern technological revolution. Set in the beautiful Candie Gardens on a hill overlooking St Peter Port, it is also run by the States of Guernsey and celebrates 30 years since opening in 1978. It includes a gift shop and cafe, an audio visual theatre  and features constantly changing art exhibitions throughout the year. Cafe Victoria serves home-made fayre, Guernsey dishes and Fairtrade tea and coffee seven days a week. Enjoy the fabulous view over Candie Gardens and the islands from the terrace

Museum open April to October 10.00 am to 5pm (until 4pm November to March). Good wheelchair access Candie Museum website

Perry's Ref:  SPP TH5.5 minutes walk from town centre.  Tel: 726518

 

Guilles Alles Library

Guille-Alles Library, Market Street, St Peter Port

This excellent public library in the heart of town has a vast number of books and audio tapes for loan and use is free provided you join as a member. It is also an extremely useful resource for researching the history of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.00pm

 

Priaulx archive library

Priaulx Library, Candie Road

The Library is a popular place for finding out about Guernsey history and particularly geneology as it has thousands of old records, many of which are now on fiche. It attracts visitors from all over the world with Guernsey family connection, but particularly from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA where so may Guernsey families have emigrated to in the past three hundred years. Situated close to the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery.

Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.00pm

Perry’s Ref: T H5. Tel: 721988

 

Guernsey Postal Museum

Situated in the main Post office in Smith Street, the museum has an interesting collection of stamps from the early 1800s to the present day.

Open usual Post Office hours

Perry’s Ref: T K6. Tel: 726241

    

La Vallette Underground Museum

La Vallette German Underground Museum

The museum has won many awards and is located in a complex of tunnels built by the Germans near La Vallette bathing pools, the purpose being to store fuel for U-Boats. The museum features military and occupation memorabilia.

Open daily April to October 10.00am to 5.00pm; March to November closed Tues and Wed.

Perry’s Ref: T H5. Tel: 722300

  

Clarence battery Clarence Battery View point

Clarence Battery at Fort George

Commanding view

Clarence Battery Facing east Clarence Battery

 


The Battery built in 1780 is all that remains of Fort George of any substance, the rest having been converted to Open Market residences in the 1960s. Fort George became the principal fort on the island during the French Revolution and during the Second World War became the HQ for the German Luftwafe radar early warning service.

The Battery is reached from the steps near the Vallette Aquarium and features models in period dress together with boards which tells its story. Part of the Fortress Guernsey restoration programme.

 

German Underground Hospital, Guernsey

German Military Underground Hospital

Work started on this huge complex built into solid rock in 1944 when the D-Day landings occurred and it looked likely that considerable German casualties might need to be cared for. The hospital was never finished but its grim atmosphere serves as a lasting reminder of the grim conditions the slave workers lived in and many died there. It was later used as an amnunition dump

Open Mon to Sat April to September 10.00am to 11.45am, 2.00pm to 4.45pm; July and August 10.00am to 5.00pm

Perry’s Ref: 23G4 . Tel:239100

 

German Occupation Museum

German Occupation Museum

 


Situated near the airport behind Forest Church, the museum features many military memorabilia and also a full size street scene of life in the Occupation and video scenes.

Open daily 10.00am to 5.00pm

Perry’s Ref: 28D3.

 

St Saviour's Tunnels

A complex of tunnels constructed by the Germans during the Occupation of the island, they even extend below St Saviour's church. They were used as a munitions and equipment store and after the war military equipment was dumped there, some of which is now on display.

Open daily 10.00am to 6.00pm

Perry's Ref: 22A3

 

Pleinmont Watchtower

Pleinmont Observation Tower

This impressive tower which has a commanding view of the south west coast was built by the Germans in 1942 as part of a series of similar towers. It has been fully restored to reflect how it looked during the occupation years and is open to the public. The view from the top is breathtaking.

Open Wednesday and Sunday 2.00pm to 5.oopm

Perry's Ref: 32B3

 

Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum

Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum

One of a series of defensive towers built in 1804, Fort Grey at Rocquaine is referred to by locals as the Cup and Saucer as a result of its distinctive shape. It was fully restored in 1976 and is home to the island's Shipwreck museum housing a collection of maritime artefacts and information relating to shipwrecks around the treacherous west coast of Guernsey. It features wrecks from HMS Sprightly which foundered on the Hanois reef in 1777 to the loss of the Prosperity with sixteen lives in 1974.  On the site once stood the Chateau du Rocquaine. It was manned during both World Wars and in WWII, the Germans used it as an anti-aircraft battery.  Includes displays on shipwrecks, diving, lighthouses, navigation, archaeology and rescues.

Open daily April to October 10.00am to 5pm. No wheelchair access.

Perry's Ref: 20A5. Rocquaine Coast Road Tel: 265036

 

Hommet Casemate Bunker

Hommet Casemate Bunker

As part of the fiftieth liberation celebrations, the States of Guernsey restored this German bunker in 1995 and is now open to the public. Situated on the north headland of Vazon, the bunker was part of a chain of westcoast German defences. The gun is an original having been recovered from the foot of Jersey cliffs.

Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 2.00pm to .00pm

Perry's Ref: 14A1

 

Fort Hommet

Fort Hommet

Also on the northern Vazon headland, Fort Hommet was built in the Victorian era as part of the anti-French defences and restored in the 1980s.. It was later added to by the Germans in 1942 and so is an interesting mix.

Some parts unrestricted

Perry's Ref: 14A1

 

View from Le Guet Watchtower

View from Le Guet Watchtower

Situated amongst the pine trees of Le Guet forest at the top of a large hill, the watchtower is worth a visit for the breathtaking views across Cobo Bay and the north of the island.

Open without restriction

Perry’s Ref: 13H1

 

Guernsey Folk Museum

Guernsey Folk Museum


Situated in a beautifully restored Guernsey farmhouse with outbuildings and courtyard in the lovely Saumarez park. Run by the National Trust of Guernsey, it features a cider barn, a collection of household items and farm implements from centuries gone by plus horsedrawn vehicles.

Open daily 10.00am to 5.00pm

Perry’s Ref: 15G2. Tel: 255384

 

 

 

Rousse Tower

Rousse Tower

Built in the 18th century as one of fifteen towers to defend the island against the French, Rousse Tower has been fully restored and is open to the public as part of the Fortress Guernsey initiative. The tower has three levels and wonderful views across Ladies Bay can be had from the top level. 

Open daily

Perry's ref: 33F2 

 

Vale Castle, Guernsey

Vale Castle

This once great 18th century castle with a superb position on a mount overlooking the north east coast of Guernsey, is now regrettably largely in ruins apart from the outer walls and ramparts. It was built to command the eastern approaches and over to the Braye du Valle which at that time was an open sea channel separating the Clos du Valle from the rest of the island. It stands on the the site of an Iron Age fort. The Germans also made use of it and strengthened in it parts. Occasionally the venue for outdoor concerts

Open without restriction

Perry's Ref: 11G2

Details of Special Pass

Links to local History sites

Occupied Guernsey

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

  

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