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Castle Cornet is an ancient fortress which watches over St Peter Port. It is a beautiful attraction which can be found within a five minute walk from town.
In 1204 the Channel Islands needed to protect themselves from the French, so they built Castle Cornet. Despite this, some of the Castle dates back to the 13th century. After attack in 1338 the French took over Castle Cornet and seven years later the English managed to get it back. However in doing so they damaged some of the castle and had to rebuild it. In 1435 Gunners Towers was built which had the first canon to be used for defense. Later as canons became more readily available more were added to the castle meaning better defense could be used. In 1672 lightening hit the castle and destroyed some of the castle and killed a few of those living or working there. In 1947 H.M. King George VI gave Castle Cornet to the island as a gift.
Now owned by the States of Guernsey it was turned into a visitors attraction and houses five museums. These are 'The Story of Castle Cornet', '201 Squadron (RAF) Museum', 'Maritime Museum (including maritime art gallery)', 'Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum' and the 'Royal Guernsey Militia Museum'. To enter the museum costs £9.50 for adults and £2 for children over 7 (under 7s are free). I thought this sounded expensive but when you have seen the size of Castle Cornet it doesn't seem so expensive, especially as it includes the entrance to five museums. It is advised you spend 3 hours looking around the Castle. This is a good amount of time as if I remember right we went around in around two and a half hours. If you visit in the final opening hour of the day (4pm - 5pm) you can 'Pop in for a Pound'. This is a bargain but you will not get a chance to see everything unless you run!
The Story of Castle Cornet museum explains the history of Castle Cornet as I previously mentioned. Throughout this museum are illustrations by Brian Byron which really help to tell the story more clearly. The illustrations are very detailed and have nice bright colours, this attracts the children to them and makes them look a lot more effective. Some of these pictures show the castle being built by men which probably couldn't be shown any other way, therefore these pictures are vital as not to leave any thing out. They also have life size dislplays. My favourite is of some men sitting around a table as with the beds in the background and minimal decoration it looks very realistic for those times. To finish the musuem off are real objects and things like letters from the second world war which are interesting to look at, especially as they are real.
The 201 Squadron Museum is all about the history of the 201 Squadron and its pilots. It is a smaller musuem than the rest but is very interesting. I'm sure lots of children would enjoy looking at the planes in more wonderful Brian Byron pictures but there are also some photos included in the displays. As in all of Castle Cornet each item or area has a small description next to it in clear and understandable sentences. As well as the pictures there are some lovely items to see like a crystal goblet which was given for the anniversary and an original Order of Service which happened at the town church. This museum was reopened in 2001 by the Queen after moving from elsewhere in the Castle, this makes it a newer museum than some.
The Maritime museum is all about boats and Guernsey at sea. It includes more life like displays which show fantastic underwater clothes and a carpenters workshop which I presume was used to fix boats. One story of a boat was found only 300 meters away from the Castle itself. As part of this museum is an art gallery which has amazing boat models and boat and sea related paintings. These were brilliant to see and they are done by some excellent artists. This was not one of my favourite museums but it was still good to see.
The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Regimental Museum is about the first world war and its effect on islanders. This is one of my favourite museums as it is a lot more interactive than others. The museum has items from the war encased in glass like war medals, guns, uniforms etc. The best thing about this museum is that it allows you to listen to soldiers diaries. I really liked that part and i'm sure children would too. More life size displays show what soldiers would be doing during the war to save our island, and again look very realistic. There is also photos and illustrations throughout which help bring the story to life. This museum was only opened a few years ago by the Earl and Countess of Wessex and is very modern looking inside.
The Royal Guernsey Militia Regimental Museum is very much like the previous museum and is about the men who defended Guernsey. It has a dislplay of medals, weapons, uniforms, trophies etc. which have all been presented well and kept in good condition. As I dont read all the description cards as I prefer to just to look at the objects, I don't see very much difference at all than the last museum. That is my problem for not reading though and im sure many others would disagree.
Castle Cornet itself is a phenomenal castle which must have taken years to build. There are lots of steps and gate ways and walkways so it is not the best for taking push chairs or wheelchairs. There are many beautiful historical gardens which are kept as they would have been and something I personally wasn't expecting inside a castle. There are many canons and every day at noon the gun is fired and is very loud.
The Castle Cornet Cafe is a great place for a bite to eat and has stunning views of Herm and Sark.
The Castle has very little parking nearby so it is advised you park in town and walk but it is not that far.
Sometimes during the holidays Castle Cornet has History in Action which has people dressed up acting and guiding people around. I have never been at this time but maybe I will soon.
On Liberation day each year Castle Cornet has fireworks to end the night and it is a beautiful location to light up. Unfortunately I always watch them from closer to home as most of the island is in town on Liberation Day so unless you are there super early you probably wouldnt get too close anyway.
Castle Cornet is probably one of the best tourists attractions on Guernsey. Even when you dont enter it still looks beautiful. As it is in the harbour it is always the last thing I see when leaving the island on boat and is the first thing when arriving and a great reminder of home. It may sound a little pricey but it is well worth the time and money.