Mont Orgueil Castle
It was an absolute privilege to of held events at Mont Orgueil Castle for the charity Anthony Nolan. We held several events there from 2010 to 2012. We returned in 2014 with a promotion company.
A white figure has been seen to wander throughout the rooms at the castle.
There are several reports of the sound of a baby crying, even though there is no baby present in the castle at the time.
There are reports of a young girl who stares from a window.
Ghostly soldiers have been seen marching into the castle grounds.
There is a playful male spirit in the tower, who makes himself known by pinching ladies bottoms!
These are the spirits we are hoping to find during our investigation. However, we will also record any incidents that aren’t related to these cases.
The high promontory on which Mont Orgueil Castle stands has witnessed occupation since prehistoric times; various artefacts indicating Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements have been discovered there. Occupation of the site would appear to have been continuous down the centuries, with Iron Age hill ramparts and Roman coins indicating settlements up to the period known as the Dark Ages.
When King John lost Normandy to France in 1204, the Channel Islands became the remaining fragment of Normandy left to the English monarchy, and thereafter work began to fortify the high headland above Gorey village to enable it to withstand any future French invasion. In fact, French forces made no fewer than fifteen separate attacks upon Jersey between the early 13th and late 16th centuries.
The fortress is constructed on the concentric principle, wherein a series of independently defendable positions are built within the greater whole. Thus, the castle is divided into four self-contained units, the Outer, Lower and Inner Wards, and the Keep, all of which are enclosed by lengthy curtain walls built upon rock foundations – a truly formidable sight and obstacle for besieging armies. The castle received its name, Mont Orgueil, meaning Mount Pride, from Henry V’s brother, Thomas, Duke of Clarence, on admiring its seemingly impregnable defences.
In 1338, the French admiral Sir Nicholas Behuchet, failed in his attempt to take the castle by siege and again, in the following year, a large French naval force of 52 ships was unable to force Mont Orgueil into submission. 1374 witnessed yet another French failure but in the following century treachery succeeded where force had failed. This betrayal of trust occurred during the Wars of the Roses (1455-85), when in 1461 Henry VI’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, beseeched her cousin Pierre de Breze to aid the waning Lancastrian fortunes and surprise Mont Orgueil Castle with a treacherous attack – this succeeded and the French held the stronghold by force for seven years.
In the absence of betrayal from ‘friendly’ troops, the castle remained comfortably impregnable during the centuries of warfare preceding the introduction of gunpowder. However, as the 16th century progressed improved cannon fire undid the castle defences, especially as many of its defensive round towers were too lightly constructed to withstand fearsome volleys of cannon balls. This defect was compounded by enemy cannon being placed on nearby Mont St Nicholas, which overlooked Gorey. Despite valiant efforts to strengthen the castle by construction of the massive Somerset Tower and Grand Rampier, from which gunfire could be directed toward the neighbouring plateau, the strategic importance of Mont Orgueil Castle was diminished and Jersey’s centre of military defence shifted south to Elizabeth Castle.
As the 16th century closed, Sir Walter Raleigh strongly urged his queen not to demolish Mont Orgueil Castle, for it “were a pity to cast down” such “a stately Fort” – Elizabeth complied.
During the 17th century Mont Orgueil Castle was employed as a prison; one of the most illustrious occupants was William Prynne whose anti-monarchy tracts incurred the wrath of Charles I, when he was fined £10,000, deprived of his ears and his forehead bore the brand S L – Seditious Libeller. After the Civil War (1642-9), when monarchy had been restored in 1660, two other leading Jersey parliamentarians were imprisoned there – the cells of all three may be visited.
Through the following century the castle slowly fell into disrepair as it was no longer utilised as a prison, although the tail-end of the 18th century bore witness to an unexpected revival in its fortunes. After the events of 1789, the castle provided a place of refuge for French aristocrats and nobles fleeing the mob, Robespiere and Madame Guillotine, all of which lent a lustre of faded glory to the ageing fortress.
The mid 20th century saw Mont Orgueil Castle being refortified in a very different way during the Nazi Occupation of Jersey. The former stronghold was re-established as a defensive fortress, with observation towers, gun emplacements, trenches and bunkers.