Elizabeth Castle was built on a rocky islet in the bay of St Aubin’s and has defended Jersey for over three centuries. To get to the castle, you can take the amphibious Castle Ferry or walk along the causeway at low tide. Explore Jersey’s history and climb the battlements dating back to the 1590s, and experience history coming to life with live demonstrations and gunfire!
The castle was first used for military purposes during the English Civil War in the 17th century.
In 1651, a windmill was built half-way between Fort Charles and the Lower Ward. In the same year, the Parliamentarian forces arrived in Jersey and pounded the castle with mortars. The ruination of the medieval abbey church in the heart of the castle complex, which had been used as the storehouse for ammunition and provisions, forced Carteret to surrender on 15 December 1651 after being besieged for seven weeks. Jersey was held by Parliamentarians for the next nine years until the restoration of the monarchy.
During the Seven Years’ War, French prisoners were kept at the island.
The castle was next involved in conflict in the late 18th century—this time with the French. French troops landed in St Helier on 6 January 1781, and the castle garrison was marooned. The governor was tricked into surrendering to the French, but the castle garrison declined to do so. The French were eventually conquered by troops at the Battle of Jersey.
Today, Jersey Heritage administers the site as a museum. Among the historical displays is the regimental museum of the Royal Jersey Militia that holds several centuries of military memorabilia. There is also a museum that discusses the evolution of cannons and fortifications that holds several pieces from the nineteenth century, and earlier.
Every Sunday through the open season, a team of historical interpreters recreates the garrison of 1781, at the time of the Battle of Jersey. They give displays of musket and cannon firing, and civilian life.