Friday, 27 May 2016

Mont Orgueil

On the 11th of May, we woke up to a fog so dense we could hardly see the cliff top from our window. But more often than not, fog means a good day ahead, and we were determined not to let a little fog stop us from doing what we meant to do: See Mont Orgueil, the castle that had been described to us as "THE Castle" (see the end of my next-to-last post).

It was the first bus into town after breakfast, and there change to another line taking us to the small town (village?) of Gorey, overlooked by Mont Orgueil. This was our first view of the castle:
Fog does lend a special atmosphere to a place, don't you think? Climbing up towards the castle, we saw a bit more of it:
Looking out across the sea, there was a thin, white glow where water and sky met. The fog was lit up from behind, and it looked very surreal and very beautiful. Photos can only give a poor impression of it:
More of the castle:



Once you step inside, you find a maze of winding steps, dark passages, rooms large and small opening in the most unexpected corners. You turn another corner and find yet another staircase, and yet another passage to more rooms. For a while, you think you'll never manage to see them all, but we did get our bearings eventually and found all the nooks and crannies. We loved being able to go exploring on our own, without having to join a guided tour. Very well done of the Jersey Heritage people!

Every now and then, you reach a terrace or top of a tower, from where you can enjoy spectacular views... with or without fog:


There are various sculptures and other art works (such as holographic pictures) dotted around the castle. This huge silver tree represents all the kings and queens of England, a bit like a family tree.

A lady in medieval dress (down to her shoes) was playing music on various instruments of the time. In between playing, she explained about daily life in the castle as it once was. Just one of many volunteers doing a great job!


Slowly but surely, the sun was dissolving the fog:



Gorey Harbour:


The same house again, now without fog. Somehow, O.K. and I were fascinated by its layout. You can tell it is brand new (or at least the additions are), and parts of it are built into the slope.


Can anyone tell me the name of this bird? I thought it could be some kind of wagtail, but I am not sure:

We sat down for a snack at the nice little café/tea room at the bottom of the castle:


When we took another stroll around the harbour late in the afternoon, the fog was gone. Compare this picture to the first one of this post:


The following pictures are all by O.K.

Silly tourists!!





Mont Orgueil has actually three names. "Mont Orgueil" means "Mount Pride" or "Haughty Mount" in Jerriais, according to wikipedia. In English, the castle is Gorey Castle (the small town/village at its feet is called Gorey). Some Jerriais-speaking folk still call it lé Vièr Châté (the Old Castle). And old it is - construction began in the year 1204.

For centuries, it was Jersey's main defensive structure. But times changed, and so did weapons. With the advance of gunpowder, a castle like this was outdated, and when in the late 1500s Elizabeth Castle was being built, Mont Orgueil lost its importance.
Throughout the 17th century, it was still being used, now mainly as a prison.

The castle found various uses over the following centuries, and during the German occupation in the 1940s, it was fortified again - this time in a way as to blend in with the old walls. You can read a lot more in the above linked wikipedia article, and of course at the Jersey Heritage website.

13 comments:

  1. Your dad says, the bird is a Bachstelze, you are right, a wagtail.

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    1. That's what I thought, thank you, Mum - I knew Dad would know it :-)

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  2. True, the foggy beginning of the day had its own special magic, but I think I like the pictures best that were taken after the fog had burned off. How nice to have both experiences in one day....Love the photo of you upside down, having too much fun!

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    1. I just couldn't resist - the playground was empty, although they were kids around, playing with costume and toy swords.
      It was special seeing the castle first so mysteriously shrouded in the fog, and later in all its glory.

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  3. There is something very special about Jersey,isn't there. I have been a couple of times, but not to this castle - it looks great. And you are right, the mist does add an "atmosphere."

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    1. You should visit it next time you come to Jersey. I guess it does not take long at all to get there from London.

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  4. Another splendid post Meike. Determining which Wagtails is always my problem. I would plump for a White or possibly a Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba - I looked up the Latin so that your Dad could see whether he agrees).

    Your 'silly tourist' pic made me laugh and go green! I can't turn upside down. If I do I either feint or vomit.

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    1. Thank you, Graham! I hope my Mum still follows the comments here and will show my Dad the Latin name. I've just put the name in wikipedia's search bar (on the German version of wikipedia) and think it is indeed that bird.

      Unless something really bad should happen to me (physically), I guess I'll be doing daft and silly things for many more years to come. I simply can't resist when I see a playground and there are no kids about.

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    2. Graham, you are absolutely right, it is the motacilla alba.

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  5. Meike I do plenty of silly things just so long as they don't involve turning upside down. My favourite way of embarrassing anyone I'm shopping with is to use my shopping trolly in the supermarket to 'ride' down the aisle quickly with my feet just above the ground. It has to be safe, of course, so that I'm not going to mow anyone down!

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    1. Oh, I love doing that! Like you, I only have a "Roman cart race" with myself (thinking Ben Hur-style audience and costume) when the aisle is clear. We should go shopping together one day!

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  6. I think these are my favorite photos so far. The green is SO green. And I love fog and mist. That white house is amazing. Money, money, money.

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    1. I love fog and mist, too. And the green really was so green! All that humidity :-)

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