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Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil

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Mont Orgueil is a castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 in Jersey
Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

. It is located overlooking the harbour of Gorey
Gorey, Jersey
Gorey is a village in the parishes of St. Martin and Grouville on the east coast of Jersey. It is one of the three main harbours of the island....

. It is also called Gorey Castle by English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

-speakers, and lé Vièr Châté (the Old Castle) by Jèrriais
Jèrriais is the form of the Norman language spoken in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, off the coast of France. It has been in decline over the past century as English has increasingly become the language of education, commerce and administration...


The site had been fortified in the prehistoric period, but the construction of the castle was undertaken following the division of the Duchy of Normandy
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

 in 1204. The castle was first mentioned in 1212.

The castle was the primary defence of the Island until the development of gunpowder which then rendered the castle ultimately indefensible from Mont Saint Nicholas, the adjacent hill which overlooks the castle. The construction of Elizabeth Castle
Elizabeth Castle
Elizabeth Castle is a castle in Saint Helier, Jersey. Construction was started in the 16th century when the power of cannon meant that the existing stronghold at Mont Orgueil was insufficient to defend the Island and the port of St. Helier was vulnerable to attack by ships armed with...

 off Saint Helier
Saint Helier
Saint Helier is one of the twelve parishes of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel. St. Helier has a population of about 28,000, roughly 31.2% of the total population of Jersey, and is the capital of the Island . The urban area of the parish of St...

 was commenced at the end of 16th century to replace Mont Orgueil. Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

, Governor of Jersey in 1600, rejected a plan to demolish the old castle in order to recycle the stone for the new fortifications with the words: "'twere pity to cast it down".
The old castle continued to be used as the Island's only prison until the construction of a prison in St. Helier at the end of the 17th century. The Crown found it expedient to send troublesome agitators such as William Prynne
William Prynne
William Prynne was an English lawyer, author, polemicist, and political figure. He was a prominent Puritan opponent of the church policy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. Although his views on church polity were presbyterian, he became known in the 1640s as an Erastian, arguing for...

 and John Lilburne
John Lilburne
John Lilburne , also known as Freeborn John, was an English political Leveller before, during and after English Civil Wars 1642-1650. He coined the term "freeborn rights", defining them as rights with which every human being is born, as opposed to rights bestowed by government or human law...

 to Mont Orgueil far from the realm of England. The regicides Thomas Waite
Thomas Waite
Thomas Waite may refer to:*Thomas Waite , English Member of Parliament and one of the regicides of King Charles I*Thomas Waite 1747-1774...

, Henry Smith
Henry Smith (regicide)
Henry Smith was an English Member of Parliament and one of the regicides of King Charles I.He was born in Withcote, Leicestershire in 1620; son of Henry Smith born in 1589 and Frideswide Wright. He studied at Oxford University and Lincoln's Inn. He married miss Holland.In 1640 he was elected...

, James Temple
James Temple
James Temple was a puritan and English Civil War soldier who was convicted of the regicide of Charles I. Born in Rochester, Kent, to a well-connected gentry family, he was the second of two sons of Sir Alexander Temple, although his elder brother died in 1627...

, Hardress Waller
Hardress Waller
Sir Hardress Waller , cousin of Sir William Waller, was an English parliamentarian of note.-Life:Born in Groombridge, Kent, and descendant of Sir Richard Waller of Groombridge Place, Waller was knighted by Charles I in 1629...

 and Gilbert Millington
Gilbert Millington
Gilbert Millington was a barrister and one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England.Millington was the eldest son of Anthony Millington of Felley Abbey, Nottinghamshire and was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, becaming a member of Lincoln's Inn in 1614.He was elected as an M.P...

 were transferred to Mont Orgueil in 1661.

A report for the States of Jersey in 1691 declared that the barracks accommodation was so dilapidated that it was impossible to quarter troops there. Two years later, the castle was stated to be in a ruinous condition and subsequently was abandoned as a prison. This was because Elizabeth Castle had been built and the castle was neglected and not needed any more.

Repairs were carried out 1730–1734 and for the rest of century parts of the castle were adapted for garrison accommodation. In 1800 the Corbelled Tower was fitted out for use by Admiral Philippe d'Auvergne as his headquarters for the secret service organisation he was running in Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 and mainland Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...


In 1846 the castle was visited by Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 and Prince Albert. The castle has also hosted subsequent royal ceremonies to welcome George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 in 1921 and Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

; inscriptions mark the occasions.

Until the second half of the 19th century the castle was open to the public on one day a year, Easter Monday
Easter Monday
Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox cultures...

, and crowds used to flock from all over the Island. This is believed to be a survival of the pre-Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 custom of visiting St. George's Chapel inside the castle on St. George's Day.

In a generally ruinous state at the time of its handover to the people of Jersey by the Crown
The Crown
The Crown is a corporation sole that in the Commonwealth realms and any provincial or state sub-divisions thereof represents the legal embodiment of governance, whether executive, legislative, or judicial...

 on 28 June 1907, Mont Orgueil has been managed as a museum site since 1929, although during the Second World War German Occupation
Occupation of the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany for much of World War II, from 30 June 1940 until the liberation on 9 May 1945. The Channel Islands are two British Crown dependencies and include the bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey as well as the smaller islands of Alderney and Sark...

 (1940–1945) the occupying forces garrisoned the castle and added modern fortifications camouflaged to blend in with existing structures.

The heritage site has been managed by the Jersey Heritage Trust since 1994. In the early 21st century, the Trust planned to build a Tudor hall within the castle's keep. Around the same time, a £3 million grant was given to fund restoration work. In 2004, a commemorative Jersey pound
Jersey pound
The pound is the currency of Jersey. Jersey is in currency union with the United Kingdom, and the Jersey pound is not a separate currency but is an issue of banknotes and coins by the States of Jersey denominated in pound sterling, in a similar way to the banknotes issued in Scotland and Northern...

 note was put into circulation depicting Mont Orgueil. The castle is depicted on the 2010 issue Jersey 50 pound note. On 2 April 2006, after a long building programme the castle was reopened to the public by the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey. Restoration work has opened up previously inaccessible areas of the castle to the public. Newly built additions in modern style have enclosed sections of the castle and made them weatherproof, parts of the structure have been reinterpreted, and artistic interventions in the grounds and structure of the castle have provided attractions for visitors.

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