Walking along the piers and seeing the different parts of the harbour brought us to the place on the Esplanade from where you can either take an amphibious car or ferry to the castle (when the tide is in or if you don't feel like walking), or walk across the sands on a path of concrete slabs laid there specifically for that purpose early in the 20th century.
Guess which approach we chose :-)
For about 300 years, Elizabeth Castle was Jersey's main defensive structure. The soldiers stationed on the island did not yet have the luxury of the concrete path, and many drowned on their way over, simply because they were too drunk to judge the time it would take them to walk over, and then the incoming tide caught up with them.
Looking back towards where we came from: (picture by O.K.)
The earliest parts of the castle date back to 1594, but bits were still being added until the early 19th century, whether it be barracks, a military hospital or work on the fortifications according to the latest developments in military engineering of the time.
Sir Walter Raleigh had his Governor's seat here from 1600 to 1603, but never lived there - he preferred to stay in town. It was he who gave the castle its name, of course in honour of his Queen, Elizabeth I.
Some time before the year 550, a monk of Belgian origin arrived on the island we now know as Jersey, accompanied by another monk. The men were Helier and Romard, and they found a small community of fishermen at the place that is now Jersey's capital. They were eager to learn the new faith, but Helier especially had mainly come here to find the peace and quiet he craved. Instead of living with his community, he chose the remotest of the chain of islets off Jersey's coast, and built himself a shelter, where he would live and spend his days and nights in prayer and contemplation for about 13 years.
His companion travelled back and forth between the islet and the fishing village, and every now and then, Helier must have done that, too, because he apparently found time to perform a miracle every now and then. He also warned the fishermen about approaching ships (which usually meant nothing good), seeing them first from his vantage point. You can read this and some more about Helier here on wikipedia; it makes an interesting story, whether you believe in saints or not.
|Picture by O.K. Yes, that pink dot is me.|
We wandered around the castle and visited one of several museums/exhibitions inside the former barracks. The exhibition we saw was very well done and informative. You could see how living and working conditions changed throughout the centuries, and how they varied between the higher ranks and the common soldiers, who sometimes had their wives and children with them.
Drinking and petty crimes were a huge problem in the overcrowded quarters; part of the soldiers' payment was given in cider, and they had nothing to do most of the time. Much later, conditions improved somewhat, but learning about such things always makes me double glad and grateful that I live where I live and when I live.
Some more pictures O.K. took:
One of the volunteers working there for Jersey Heritage talked to us for a while. He was one of those people who are truly enthusiastic about what they do, and it was a pleasure listening to him. He recommended Mont Orgueil to us, saying that to him, that was THE castle. We had already decided that we wanted to see the place anyway, so we were happy to have our idea for the next day confirmed by his comments.