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Elizabeth Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Islett of Saynt Helyer

In the parish of St Helier.
On the Isle of Jersey.

Latitude 49.17605° Longitude -2.12662°

Elizabeth Castle has been described as a certain Artillery Fort.

There are major building remains.

This site is a building or structure protected by law.


In 1593-94, therefore, two works where put in hand. Out of respect for the old fortress, into which so much money had been sunk, it was given some finishing touches, including the still existing gateway at the middle ward gate with the queen's arms and the date 1593. But for the more effective defence of island a new fort was begun on St. Helier’s Islet. On 10 May 1593 there was a warrant for £600 which must have been intended for Gorey and on 14 March 1594 a warrant totalling £500 issued for the fort on the islet.
The history of the new fort is succinctly given in a document of James II's time. ‘In 1594 instructions were given to Paul Ivy, Engineer, to fortify {the islet} according to a model then agreed upon; Her Majesty allowing 500 Pounds, and the Islanders contributing four days’ labour for every house and 4000 houses being then supposed to be in the said Island, at six pence a day’s work, was reckoned to amount to 400 Pounds. But the number of houses coming short of that account by eight hundred, the Islanders contributed 80 Pounds in money to make up the said sum; and two years after, the Islanders did give 2000 days more, the former being insufficient. So that part called the Upper Ward, was about seven years’ furnishing and cost Eleven Hundred Pounds’. Paulet’s account of 1594—95 bears out the Islanders’ subscription of £80 in lieu of labour but it shows also that the Exchequer found another £250 (18 July 1595), so the total cost, reckoning in the Islanders’ labour at the stated value, will have been considerably more than £1100.
Besides his declaration, Paulet’s detailed account of expenditure on the works from October 1594 to November 1595 survives among Burleigh’s papers at Hatfield House. It shows that up to 30 masons were at work under Peter Byson, the master mason; in addition there were four to eight carpenters under Harrie Fardinge, a dozen ‘mortar boys’ and a number of labourers and mortarmakers. Nearly all these men had local names, but the plumber, Gille Bishop, was ‘pressed out of England to serve the Queen for 100 daies work for himself and his man at 2s. 6d. the day’. By this time the outer walls appear to have been complete, for the labourers were busy filling the bulwarks with earth carried up in baskets. The stone stairs up from the gate were under construction in April, followed by the Mount and a ‘new bulwark’, probably the one on the rock adjoining the Mount. When the wall round the Mount was finished it was filled with earth with the aid of a crane. The stone was quarried on the island, Mount Mado granite being used for steps, etc. Timber was obtained both from the New Forest (via Southampton) and from Normandy. Lime was bought in France at 28s. a ton unslaked.
Elizabeth Castle (as the new fort became known early in the seventeenth century) is of peculiar interest as one of the very few completely new fortifications of the reign, designed by a known engineer one of whose drawings of it exists. Ivy’s drawing closely resembles the original parts of the executed work. There is a retaining wall fitting very near to the outline of the promontory on which the fort is built and this wall contains a level platform approached by way of a well-protected gateway at a lower level. This gateway, already complete bv November 1595, has a pointed label with stylised crockets and the queen’s arms above and those of Sir Anthony Paulet to one side, all the carving being the work of Peter Byson, who had carved the arms over the 1593 gateway at Gorey. The highest part of the rock is surrounded by a curved retaining wall and formed the ‘Mount’; it is approached from the main platform by protected steps. On the main platform below are houses for the governor and captain. The former survives more or less intact and is a typical Jersey house of the period. On one side of the doorway are the arms of John Wadham, the clerk of works, and on the other those of William Fortescue, who appears in the accounts as ‘overseer of the works’.
The fort seems to have been finished in 1601, and the date is carved in the rock with what appears to be a merchant’s mark (possibly that of Thomas Soulemon, the constable of Jersey, who signed the accounts). In 1600, Sir Walter Raleigh had succeeded the last of the Paulets and during his three year tenure of the captaincy the first of several extensions to Elizabeth Castle was made, consisting of a new enclosure near the gateway, adding to its security and at the same time accommodating a second tier of cannons to command the channel leading into the haven. (HKW)

Comments (by Philip Davis)

It seems Edward VI intended to build a fortress here in 1551 although no work may have been done in his time and his interest and money was spent on St Aubin's fort on the other side of the bay.
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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017