“ Elizabeth Castle is a perfect place to spend a day exploring Jersey's history. Work began on the castle in the 1590s and it was home to Sir Walter Raleigh while he was Governor of Jersey. The future King Charles II sought refuge at Elizabeth Castle during the English Civil War. „
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We visited Jersey for the first time last week, and read that Elizabeth Castle was one of the top places to visit during our stay. The tourist guides are right! The castle is owned and operated by Jersey Heritage, and it costs approximately £11 for adults, with a discount for children or students. You can choose either a castle only ticket, or a castle and ferry ticket, as the castle is half way out to sea. At high tide, the castle is only accessible by the ferry, however at low tide, you can walk over on a natural causeway, which is what we did. It is one of the most unusual journeys I've had to a castle! Once inside, it astounded us how big the castle grounds were. The views from the castle were fantastic looking out to St Helier, St Aubins Bay and also looking out to sea. The most memorable thing about visiting here was the 'living history' feature. We saw a notice advising us a parade would be happening at 3pm, so we sat in the courtyard and waited for this. A gentleman appeared in old history dress and told us a story about the battle of Jersey. He then called upon all men of working age to parade! They paraded through the grounds and he took us to a cannon, where everyone was invited to prepare it for fire, and it got fired (with gunpowder, not a real cannonball!). Making history come to life is quite exciting! The castle also had a breakwater with a chapel which was very pretty.
"In all pride of security, stands Elizabeth Castle, a fortress mounting nearly one hundred pieces of canon..." J Stead, 1809.
During a recent trip to Jersey I was really looking forward to visiting Elizabeth Castle named not for Queen Elizabeth 1 but for Elizabeth the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh who for a while was stationed here.
Where is it and How do I Get There?
Elizabeth Castle is in Jersey it is built on a rocky islet in St Aubins Bay. The Address is:
St Aubins bay
At low tide you can walk up to the Castle and although we had Jersey passes which allowed us free ferry and admission we decided to walk across the bay to the Castle. It is a nice walk and takes about twenty minutes. The pathway up to the castle is easy to follow and well defined.
If its high tide or you don't want to walk there are regular Castle ferries to and from the Castle.
Opening Times and Admissions
Elizabeth Castle is open from 1st April 10am-6pm daily. Closed from 1st November until 2nd April.
Castle and ferry:
The Jersey pass is accepted at Elizabeth Castle. Elizabeth Castle is not suitable for people with mobility impairment.
Refreshments are available from the Cafe or the Souveneir shop.
The Castle is really impressive and from a distance it looks just like a real sandcastle by that I mean like the pictures of sandcastles you see in childrens fairytale books which are made out of sand and perfectly formed.....A Fairytale Fortress.
The Castle is divided into three areas:
1. This is the oldest and the highest part and it is called The Mount or The Upper Ward.
2. The Lower Ward.
3. The Outer Ward.
There are also three small integral museum around the parade ground:
Granite and Gunpowder
Shows you the development of the canon.
Jersey Militia Story
The story of the Jersey Militia.
War and Peace
Tells the story of the garrison over 450 years.
Highlights of the Castle For Me
This is my favourite part of Elizabeth Castle and whilst hubby joined the Castle tour ( I have itchy feet and can't stand still for long periods) I headed up to the top of the tower. I was really excited as I love heights and the amazing views you get from being up there.
From the tower I could see all along the south east coast of the island. The views are stunning and did not disappoint me and I spent a good thirty minutes here taking photos and admiring the views.
Georgian Soldier Re-enactors
Through out the day we saw various displays on the parade ground and around the Castle. Canons where fired and guns where shot to give you a feel of what it would have been like when it was a working military fort.
The re-enactors where dressed like Georgian soldiers and looked realistic and in the case of the Seargant at arms sounded realistic as he got his audience to drill and parade and shouted out orders at them he also talked to us about what it was like to be a soldier then.
I really enjoyed the displays and feel it gives you more of a realistic image that stays with you.
In the upper ward is the Queen Elizabeth gate. It still has the portcullis slots in the side of the arch and it is easy to imagine an archer above drawing his bow in challenge....."Who goes there?" "its me and I'm off!".
The gate was built in the 1590's and is the original entrance to the Castle. Beneath a large Tudor rose are the arms of Elizabeth 1.
This is seperate from the Castle and reachable by a causeway within the Castle grounds. Primitive stone steps lead up to the hermitage. St Helier lived here but you can't imagine him living in comfort as it's little more than a cave.
Worth a Visit?
In my opinion if you are in Jersey it is well worth a visit. I really enjoyed the displays with the Georgian soldier re-enactors which gave you a real feel of what it was like. I also really enjoyed climbing up to the top of the tower the views are stunning from there.