Vale Castle

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vale Castle
Vale Castle: curtain wall and entrance

Vale Castle: curtain wall and entrance

Creation time : Late 10th century
Castle type : Coastal fort
Conservation status: well preserved
Standing position : French nobility
Construction: Quarry stone
Place: St Sampson
Geographical location 49 ° 29 '6.4 "  N , 2 ° 30' 32.7"  W Coordinates: 49 ° 29 '6.4 "  N , 2 ° 30' 32.7"  W.
Height: 23  m ASLTemplate: height / unknown reference
Vale Castle (Channel Islands)
Vale Castle

Vale Castle is a coastal fortress on the Le Clos du Valle peninsula on the Channel Island of Guernsey . It is considered a protected building . Its original name was Le Château St. Michel ; later it became Château de Val or Château de Valle . It is over 1000 years old. It protects both the port of St Sampson at the eastern end of the Braye du Valle and the port of Bordeaux .


A tidal channel separated north Guernsey from the rest of the island. Earthworks from the 6th century BC BC, which consist of a double moat and a rampart, indicate that there was a fort on the hill on which Vale Castle is today, as early as the Iron Age .

middle Ages

Around 968 AD, monks from the Benedictine Abbey of Le Mont-Saint-Michel came to Guernsey to found St Michael Abbey , a community in the north of the island.

According to a legend, Duke Robert II of Normandy , the father of King William the Conqueror , traveled to England in 1032 to help King Edward the Confessor . He had to seek refuge in Guernsey and gave land, now called Le Clos du Valle, to the monks.

In 1061, when pirates attacked and plundered the island, complaints were made to Duke Wilhelm (who later became Wilhelm the Conqueror). This sent Sampson d'Anneville , who with the help of the monks managed to drive away the pirates. For this service, Sampson d'Anneville and the monks were rewarded with half the island each. The part that went to the monks and was called '' Le Fief St Michel '' also contained the site on which the castle is now located. The castle of St Michael (now Vale Castle) was built to protect the population against the pirates by offering a safe haven.

It was possible to tell when the construction of the castle began, possibly at the end of the 10th century. In the naval war on the English Channel 1338-1340 , the French conquered the island and castle, where they killed their defenders. The occupying forces withdrew in 1340 after the Battle of Sluis had decimated the French Navy.

In 1372 Owain Lawgoch , a pretender to the Welsh throne, led an attack on Guernsey with an international force fighting for France. This attack was popularly known as “La Descente de Aragousais” (Eng: the descent of the Aragousen). Owain Lawgoch withdrew after killing 400 men from the island's militia. The poem of the same name names the castle "Château de l'Archange", the place of the last defensive ditch against the intruders.

Early modern age

15th century gatehouse of Vale Castle

In the 15th century was gatehouse grown and the castle with a curtain wall made of granite enclosed as well as other repairs and improvements on the walls, such as the cultivation of buttresses performed. The latter were improved in the following century. A powder magazine, guard room and houses for the garrison were built around this time. The castle has a well. In 1615 it was one of the island's duties to maintain Vale Castle, unlike Castle Cornet , which maintained the English crown.

During the nine years of the English Civil War , parliamentary troops may have been stationed at Vale Castle, as Castle Cornet supported the royalist cause while the island of Guernsey was on the side of the Roundheads . Extensive repairs were necessary in 1680.

Later modern times

The American Revolutionary War , which made France an enemy, ensured that barracks and other improvements were built. The French Revolution also threatened the island and the castle was equipped with one 24 pounder cannon and two 9 pounder cannons.

The castle received a signal mast to warn the island when enemy ships were approaching, equipped with a beacon for the alarm at night.

In 1799, 6,000 Russian troops were quartered in nearby Delancey . Hundreds died of disease and so are the graves of Russian soldiers at Vale Castle.

During the coalition wars, the facility of Braye du Valle 1806-1808 meant the end of the separation of Le Clos du Valle, which was previously a tidal island , from the main island. This was a better way to move troops and protect the island. The nearby port of St Sampson has expanded with international trade.

During the First World War , a small garrison of local militia was stationed at the castle and between the wars the barracks served the States of Guernsey as a domicile.

German mortar ditch

The last changes to Vale Castle were the work of workers from the Todt Organization during the German occupation of 1942–1944 . They tore down the barracks and built four concrete machine gun stands, three stands for 5 cm mortars, trenches, four Tobruk defense stands and shelters for the crew. The defenses in the “Base Group Talfeste ” also included flamethrowers, two 60 cm searchlight stands and two field cannons of the 10.5 cm K331 (f) type .


The castle has an irregular floor plan and is located on a hill. It consists roughly of six round towers that are connected by a curtain wall that contains a gatehouse with a square floor plan.

The coast lies on the south and east sides; to the west lay low marshland.


Under the medieval outer wall was a small earth wall in which pottery shards from the time from 500 to 600 BC were found. Found. Similar pottery shards were found in a second wall under the military buildings from the 14th century within the walls. This Wallenburg double Wall is unique in Guernsey.

Extensive excavations were carried out in 1980. They showed that the late medieval work was carried out around 1370–1400.

Monument protection

The entire Château de Marais (Eng .: swamp castle ) was registered on March 26, 1938 as a Protected Monument , No. PM124.

In art and literature

  • Francis Grose (1731–1791) created the copperplate engravings St. Michael's, or the Vale Castle, 1786 and St. Sampson's Church in 1777 with the Vale Castle in the background.
  • Robert Mudie (1777–1842) printed Historical and Topographical Description of the Channel Islands in 1840 .
  • William Turner (1775-1851) made a sketch of the castle.
  • Victor Hugo (1802–1885) mentioned Vale Castle in 1866 in his novel The Workers of the Sea .
  • Edwin Hayes (1819–1904) painted the picture Vale Castle / Guernsey E Hayes Buscoe House / Stedes Rd

Access and current use

Vale Castle is open to the public. It is within walking distance and entry is free when there are no private events taking place there. Free parking spaces can be found in Bordeaux or on Castle Road .

The castle is an increasingly popular venue for music festivals and private parties. The Vale Earth Fair has been held at the castle for over 40 years.

Visitors can walk through the German trenches and see the '' Tobruk '' trenches, the machine gun stands and the shelters for the garrison.

Gallery images

Individual evidence

  1. Protected Trees, Buildings & Monuments Webmap . States of Guernsey. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  2. a b c Vale Castle . Guernsey Museum. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Louisa Lane: Redstone's Guernsey guide, or, The stranger's companion for (...) Guernsey, by the author of 'Recollections of Sark' . Oxford University, Oxford 1841.
  4. A guide to Jersey and Guernsey: with an brief sketch of Alderney, Sercq, and a map . Baker, 1839.
  5. ^ William Berry: The history of Guernsey from the remotest period of antiquity to the year 1814 . Pp. 130-131.
  6. ^ The Guernsey and Jersey Magazine . Issue 1-2 (1836). P. 169.
  7. James Marr: Bailiwick Bastions . Guernsey Press. ISBN 0-902550-11-X . P. 34.
  8. James Marr: Bailiwick Bastions . Guernsey Press. ISBN 0-902550-11-X . P. 31.
  9. ^ Ferdinand Brock Tupper: The Chronicles of Castle Cornet . Stephen Barbet. Pp. 47-63. 1851. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  10. ^ The European Magazine: And London Review . Issue 52 (July 1807). James Asperne. P. 209.
  11. Gregpry Stevens Cox: Guernsey & the French Revolution . Guille Alles Library, July 1989. p. 12.
  12. a b c d History of the Vale Castle . BBC. November 13, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  13. Stp. Talfeste (VALE CASTLE) . Guernsey Fortress. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved April 18, 2018. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. Protected Tree, Building and Monuments Search Details: PM124 . States of Guernsey. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  15. ^ Vale Castle, Guernsey 1832 . Tate. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  16. All set for Vale Earth Fair at 40 . Guernsey Press. August 27, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2018.

Web links

Commons : Vale Castle  - collection of images, videos and audio files