Thursday, 9 September 2021

St Peter Port ("Town")


                                                       Castle Cornet from our hotel

We started this walk from our hotel, Le Fregate, and followed the narrow lane to turn left at the end and discover the Priaulx Library (once known as Candie House) built in the 1780s.

Then left into Candie Gardens where we found a fine statue of Queen Victoria (an exact copy of the one by the Houses of Parliament in London). Nearby is the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, which we enjoyed wandering round.

Next we went to the wonderful Victoria tower nearby. It was built in honour of a surprise visit to Guernsey undertaken by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846. It was the first ever visit by a reigning monarch and it was decided to build the tower, funded by public subscription. The foundation stone was laid in 1848.

Rather wonderfully, access to the tower is controlled from the Museum. Would-be visitors have to get the key and hand it back when they have finished. It was a stiff climb to reach the top, which offered a very nice panorama over the town as far as Castle Cornet. 

We headed downhill, passing Elizabeth College. It was founded in 1563, but the main buildings date only from 1826. The architect was John Wilson, who built a number of buildings in St Peter Port. As a sometime Sociologist I was delighted to see a sign towards the Social Science wing.

Down the hill from Elizabeth College was the church of St James-the-Less, built in 1818 to provide an English-speaking C of E church for the British Garrison. This too was the work of John Wilson.


We continued downhill to reach the Harbour and St Peter Port Parish Church (known generally as Town Church). It dates from at least 1040, but the church you see today assumed its present-day appearance around 1500. The nave, tower and chancel are out of alignment, possibly due to the cramped sit.

Behind the church are the handsome and imposing former market buildings.

We now headed uphill to see Victor Hugo's House, Hauteville House. Victor Hugo lived there in exile for 15 years (1855-70) during the regime of Louis Napoleon. The house is now a museum, but was sadly not open.

We were struck by the blue post box on the wall opposite.

We retraced our steps to the harbour and walked out along Castle Pier to reach Castle Cornet, which was developed as a defence as soon as King John lost Normandy to France in 1204. This is what the approach looks like now ...

... and here is an earlier version, when the Castle was on an island. The magazine in the Castle keep was struck by lightning in 1672 and never replaced.

It is a complicated and rather unlovely structure with buildings from different dates jostling with each other. I thought this was one of the most atmospheric parts.

I was also rather taken by the Gaol.

To concluded our walk we followed the harbour side to the Albert Pier, from which we would later depart on the Condor ferry, to photograph the Liberation Monument which commemorates the end of the German occupation of Guernsey.

Conditions: warm and pleasant. 

Distance: 3 miles.

Walk done on September 9.

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