THE BATTLE OF MONT
|THE BATTLE LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN | what is the future
for Jersey Castle?|
For hundreds of years Mont Orgueil
Castle on the Channel Islands has been England’s frontline defence.
Now once again the castle is in need of defending.
Built in the early 13th Century, the castle has had an
interesting history. From prison, to spy station, to seat of government,
Mont Orgueil has been an icon for Jersey pride and independence.
Now, in the 21st Century, the future of Mont Orgueil is
three sides by sea and cliffs, Mont Orgueil was an impenetrable fortress|
The Jersey Heritage Trust have run the castle since 1994
and are planning to open up large parts of the castle in a bid to increase
At a glance, it may be difficult to understand why this
move could be viewed as anything but a positive step, but when some experts
and academics discovered the Trust’s plans for restoration, it opened
a huge can of worms.
The Trust intends to build a Tudor Hall within the castle
keep, but there is a strong school of thought that would challenge whether
this is historically accurate, or worse, a threat to the structure.
Opponents are not convinced that the Jersey Heritage
Trust can rebuild a Tudor Hall without risking danger to the castle structure.
They say that the Trust has not provided any hard evidence
to show that the physical structure of the keep has been examined by engineers.
the castle be restored to Tudor style?|
Because the walls have been roofless, and therefore wet
for many years, there is a danger that if the walls are roofed, the complex
‘hydrology’ of the stone will be upset.
In simple terms, the stone will become too dry and draw
up water from the ground.
Any changes to the ‘hydrology’ of the walls is potentially
damaging and the worry is that because the walls will be plastered to
complete the Tudor Hall effect, any changes may go unnoticed until it
is too late.
If the Trust truly do believe that roofing the keep is
the best way to protect the building, opponents believe the Trust must
be prepared to conduct a trial.
This isn’t the first time the castle has sparked debate,
and it’s only thanks to the foresight of one man, that the castle remains
Sir Walter Raleigh, Jersey’s Governor in 1600, ignored
advice to demolish Mont Orgueil, insisting it would make a good second
line of defence to new fortress Elizabeth Castle.
The castle went on to prove its worth right up until 1907,
when it became a public monument.
restoration project has secured a £3m grant|
It has since, been damaged, firstly by bodged conservation
work and then again by occupying Germans, who used the castle as a barracks
and observation centre.
It looks as if once again, the castle is under threat
not from bodged conservation work, or enemy occupation, but from disputed
The restoration project has secured a £3m grant. More
than a third of the grant has been spent already and the restoration proposals
are in the hands of the Jersey planners.
The planners decision could prove to be the most significant
since Walter Raleigh’s intervention 400 years ago and for once, the castle's
defences are going to be of no help in this battle.