Jersey, Channel Islands

Mont Orguiel Castle, Jersey, Channel Islands

In medieval times Gorey was the only 'safe haven' port on Jersey.  So when King John lost his French possessions it was here that Jersey's major medieval Castle was constructed.

Also known as "Gorey Castle" Mont Orguiel - or Mount Pride - was probably initially built around 1204, and was completed by 1212.  Mont Orguiel is dominated by the massive keep, not square but a kind of elliptical oblong, although the walling reaching down the hillside is equally impressive.  It would seem that continual improvement work carried on throughout much of the 13th century.  In 1331 the Warden of the Castle, one John de Roches, was accused of spending an 'unduly lavish' amount on Mont Orguiel.

He seemed to be on the right track though, for just 6 years later the French attacked the islands. Both Jersey and Guernsey were occupied, but Mont Orguiel Castle never fell.  Once more in 1356 the Islands were occupied by the French, and once more the Castle remained in English hands.  It wasn't until 1373 that the Castle was held for an enemy force.  For the following centuries Mont Orguiel became the seat of administration on Jersey until the Governorship of Sir Walter Raleigh transferred it to the newly finished Elizabeth Castle.

The Civil War raged on the Islands - which proudly remained for the King and Jersey was the first place to declare King Charles II as the rightful heir.  After this brief return to action the Castle returned to its role as gaol.  The Castle was re-garrisoned during the Napoleonic Wars, and often fired on ships.  When the Nazis arrived in 1940 they built a look out tower at the top of the keep - which still remains and almost blends in with the Castle, unlike their usual functional concrete blocks.

The Castle today operates as a museum and has the best flood-lighting available at night - two ex-German World War II air-raid lights!

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