Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Jersey - Coastal Towers

Until 1204 the Channel Islands were a part of the Duchy of Normandy. When Normandy was lost to France by King John, Jersey chose to remain loyal to the English Crown. The island was only 14 miles from the coast of France, so the fear of French invasion was a constant concern to the islanders over the centuries during which England and France were at war. The cliffs on the island's north coast provided a natural defence but the bays of the east, west and south coasts were vulnerable to potential invaders.
The Governor of Jersey, General Sir Henry Seymour Conway, decided to build 30 round towers to protect the island's coastline. The inspiration for these towers came from an ancient stone tower in the Bay of Martella in Corsica which held out against a British naval attack. They were round as this shape was regarded as stronger than square ones. However Jersey’s round towers are unique as unlike their English counterparts they have a more elegant design with tall tapering walls. In addition they are generally constructed of local granite and have machicolations (projecting beak like structures high up on the towers and walls) allowing the defenders to protect the base of the tower. The ground floor was used to store ammunition and weapons whilst the upper floor housed up to ten troops and their commanding officer.

You will note that the towers are painted on the seaward side, obviously as an aid to coastal navigation.


  1. I love these old structures and particularly when one posts information about their reasons for being. Neat how they painted the one side..and I would have wondered what the projecting pieces were..lol glad you explained. 30 is a huge number to have built back then...wonder how long it took to extract the granite, shape it, haul it and finally built these structures. We don't realize how much work and man hours it would take to build these towers. Ug my aching back!!

  2. Frank, these are gorgeous! Were you able to go inside them? I can't imagine being inside something so old. Are all 30 still standing?

  3. Great photos and a very interesting post. Fascinating to have details from that far back. Written history out here is so very new!

  4. Interesting post! I think it would be fun to get inside some of those - just imagine . . .

  5. That's interesting Frank, I cant recall seeing them when I visited.

  6. I sometimes think some of our 17th and 18th century buildings are old. These are real old. It is wonderful that they still stand.

  7. Great informative post Frank.
    If only those towers could talk.

  8. Fascinating structures and very attractive for something with such a functional use! Lovely view across the bay Frank.

  9. Fantastic towers and it gives me the shivers to look at them and think about the history that goes along with it.
    Are you able to go inside and tour them? I would love to see it!

  10. Hi Everyone, sorry for the delay in responding to all your nice comments.

    Tina. I'm sure it took some time as the granite had to be mined & then shipped in to each site.

    Kelly. According to the map we obtained I counted around 15 still standing.

    For all of you who asked, we didn't get to see inside any Towers on this trip. I believe a number are now privately owned & have been converted in some way or another.

    Roy. You can't miss them, even if you only drive around the south-east coast road!


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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