History of La Rocque Tower

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A history of La Rocque Tower


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La Rocque Tower, also known as Grouville Bay No 1, is the most southerly of eight defensive installatons built along the bay. This history has been written specially for Jerripedia by Giles Bois


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Grouville Bay No 1 (La Rocque Tower –Tour de la Rocque)

La Rocque Tower was most likely built in 1779, added to earlier fortifications from the 16th and 17th centuries at Boulevard de la Rocque.

It was erected between the original three platforms of the bulwarks and the St. Saviour Guard House, at La Rocque Point, Grouville. This point makes the South-East corner of the Island and Boulevard de la Rocque commands the southern end of Grouville Bay.

This area is around the corner from La Rocque Harbour and Platte Rocque, which are on the edge of St Clement’s Bay. The battery is shown on the Popinjay Map of 1563 and is referred to in documents from 1587. The Guard House and magazine was built in 1691.

This tower was one of the first four to be built and exhibits some differences from the other towers, possibly because its width was constrained by the available space between the gun platforms and the Guard House. The Guard House had an additional magazine added to the west gable by the parish of St Clement in 1742, when a shore patrol from that parish was added to that from St Saviour.

Towers 0 to 8

It was the first in a sequence of five towers going north, numbered 1 to 5. Because Forts Henry (originally known as Conway) and William were notionally given the numbers 6 and 7, the most northerly tower in the bay was known as No 8. And because, before the French invasion of 1781, there had been no plans for a tower at Platte Rocque, when it was added it was designated as No 0.

Tower No 1 is built on a large outcrop, dominating the surrounding beaches on both sides, possibly referred to in Thomas Le Maistre’s Note Book as La Carière Giffard (Giffard’s quarry), although ‘carrière’ can be confused with ‘charrière’ (which would give ‘Giffard’s cart track’). This is referred to in translation, as “above the guard house”, suggesting the summit of the outcrop on which the tower was to be built.

The outcrop slopes down to the west, so that the tower appears much taller from the Guard House than it does from other directions. Two large orthostats support the path around the tower on that side. They were thought to be Megalithic remains, but later Dr Arthur Mourant decided they were not, but had been dragged up from the beach during the building of the tower, or possibly the guard house.

As with the guard house and battery, the tower was manned by the St Saviour Militia, who also formed the shore patrol at La Rocque; a sergeant and eight men (increased to 24 men by 1811).

The Tower featured in the French invasion of 1781, which resulted in the Battle of Jersey, after which Clement Falle, the Chef de Garde at the tower was imprisoned for dereliction of duty and the rest of the guard bound over. The invasion occurred on Twelfth Night, the highlight of the Christmas season and the guard were otherwise engaged, in the revelries.

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Arched entrance

A distinguishing feature of this tower is that the entrance is arched (later rendered, but probably in brick). The outside opening has a lesser arch to that of the passage behind it. The other towers have entrances roofed flat, with stepped granite slabs. Tower No 5 has an entranceway roofed by a brick arch, but fronted by a straight granite lintel on the outside. At both these towers this arched passage is fronted above the lintel by a thin screen wall that is a point of weakness. This must have been identified early and resulted in a change in design for the construction of the other towers.

The tower has only one fireplace on the first floor (usually towers have two fireplaces, with one on the second floor as well). The magazine is cobbled in round sea-worn cobbles, the oldest form of flooring seen at some Jersey farms in their oldest buildings (pre-1780s), the other towers having the oblong dressed setts commonly seen in farmhouses and on pavements.

Magazine

The magazine consists of two parts, with a curtain wall in brick and granite separating the inner powder magazine under a brick arch, with another screen wall in brick at the back, with two ventilation slits, separated from the outside wall by a concealed brick pillar around which air passes to the central slit in the outside wall. This pillar avoided direct access from outside, for the firing of the powder by an attacker, and gave protection from the weather.

The magazines are consistent between all the towers, although they vary in size and this is one of the medium-to-larger sizes, but with a much smaller anteroom than is usual. The roof of this magazine is much lower than in the other towers and the diameter narrower, as on all the other floors.

The magazine lies directly below and at a slight angle to the fireplace on the first floor, which is located to the west of the entrance. The magazine would have been topped with dressed flagstones in front of the fireplace, forming about a third of the floor area, with the remaining floor made of wooden planks on heavy beams, but the Germans replaced all the floors with concrete.

This magazine still has its original door, which is identical to the few surviving doors at some of the other towers. It appears that this tower was something of a prototype that exposed shortcomings in the design, that were modified in the towers that followed and reinforces the likelihood that this was one of the first four towers built in 1779, if not the first.

The entrance door faces approximately north, at right-angles to the coast. The window openings on the first and second floors at ceiling-level, for light and ventilation, are all aligned with the machicolations. At many of the other towers this is not the case and they can be between the machicolations, sometimes asymmetrically positioned, sometimes with one under a machicolation and the others not.

The musket loops are lined at the sides and bottom with brick, as is the case at many, but not all other towers. The external magazine vent is also lined in brick, as at other towers. The loops on the upper and lower rows are staggered, in relation to each other; this would have strengthened the wall, but would also have increased the field of fire.

Roof

The firing-step on the roof is of the highest quality, composed of single curved granite blocks (unlike at some towers, where they are made of caps over rough masonry, or even a double circle of dressed masonry). The coping at the top of the wall is also of high quality and the carving bears signature characteristics that identifies the hand of an individual stone mason and can be compared with those at other towers. The floor of the roof-parapet also exhibits some novel features associated with its drainage, not seen at the other surviving towers.

The tower had an 18lb gun on a swivel arm and carriage with the fulcrum being a pin on a tripod, fixed to the iron roof-access collar. This collar also acted as the keystone to the domed brick ceiling below, and the tripod was secured by nuts to three long bolts passed through the thickness of the roof and a circular plate below, secured by another set of nuts. The thickness of the metal of this collar is quite thin, about a quarter of an inch, the securing plate giving it the illusion of greater thickness; this is the same at most of the towers having access to the roof through a central collar, the exceptions being Archirondel and La Rocco.

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Naming of fortifications

Boulevard de La Rocque stretched from the Guard House courtyard northwards to the site of Grenville, and later had a second battery added to the north. This northern battery was moved between two locations; the first just north of the Guard House, the second on or to the north of the future site of Grenville, then moved back to its original location.

This northern battery was designated Boulevard du Nord and the earlier battery as Boulevard du Sud. The tower was called Tour de la Rocque or Tour au boulevard de la Rocque.

The bulwarks and tower have also been referred to from time to time as the tower or boulevard at la Rocque Point. There were two or possibly three occasions when the guard house was identified in contracts as St Sampson’s Guard House. [1]

However, there are rocks to the east and south-east of Seymour Tower and L’Avarison called Les Settes Sampsons and Les Settes Sampson [2]

The Guard House

As stated above, the Parish of St Saviour was required to provide the shore patrol on this part of the coast and man the batteries and later the tower. Presumably these men and those manning the guns had to bivouac in all weathers, a practice that may have given its name to La Baragonne. [3]

In 1690 the Lieut-Governor decided that Grouville and St Saviour should build a guardhouse at their common cost in Grouville Bay, for their shore patrols, with gorse to be planted at possible landing points, to provide cover. A year later he changed his mind and decided that each should have their own guard house, St Saviour’s at La Rocque and Grouville at Boulevard du Maresq ou François Piroet, in the middle of the coast.

The Constable of St Saviour bought land to the west of the cannon platforms and the guardroom with a magazine was duly built. The design is adapted from domestic dwellings of the time, but with the roof composed of a Gothic vault in rough granite, with extended lines at the top of the front and back walls to support it, as at the parish churches. In addition, the entrance doorways have reinforced external surrounds.

The windows in the guard room are of the small casement type, probably originally shuttered, a design that was in use in previous centuries and was widely superseded around the middle of the following century by longer and larger sash windows. These windows are arched at the top and the square windows in the magazines were put in between the 1930s to ‘50s (most likely during the Occupation).

In 1742 the Guard House was repaired and signs of alterations or repair can be seen at the front by the east gable [4] and inside in the vaulted ceiling. In the same year, the Constable of St Clement was ordered to add another magazine to the building, for which he purchased land from the Constable of St Saviour.

The greater quality of the dressed masonry on this second magazine attests to progress in stonemason’s skills over the intervening fifty years, as is in evidence in the quality of stonework on the tower, compared with most later towers.

By 1780 the Constable of St. Saviour still had charge of the Guard House, but in 1786 the cost of maintenance was taken over by the States, to be maintained at public expense, [5]

In 1787 the guard house was to be paved, the floors being earth. [6] In 1793 the Guard House was supplied with grates and coal (in all likelihood it was built with a fireplace in 1691, with fuel burnt on the hearth). In 1805, the Defence Committee authorised the Constable of St Saviour to have the Guard House re-roofed and paved. [7].

The Guard House is located to the west of the bulwarks and tower outcrop, at a lower level, but above that of the land to the north. It was built on a deep flat mound composed of sand, ending in embankments north, south and west, and to the east abutting the Tower outcrop. [8]

This mound can be seen from both sides in pre-war photos and the present garages of the neighbouring flats are built on its southern embankment. The north embankment is a prominent feature and originally the edge would not have been so straight and may have included a ramp. [9] A slope up the north-east corner of the Guard House, from the embankment to the battery level, seen in old photos and since replaced with steps, suggests this may have been a ramp for cannon and ammunition, although access to the battery at the foot of the tower may have been from the Guard House courtyard or the cart-track, to the south.

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The Cannon Platforms

Boulevard de la Rocque is shown on the Popinjay Map of 1563 and it is mentioned in 1587. In 1692 the States asked the British Government for a supply of cannons. [10] The platforms were repaired in 1734, so that guns could be placed there. In 1736 contracts were placed for the rebuilding of the three boulevards in Grouville Bay, one at each end and one in the centre. [11] [12]

In 1742 the sea damaged the foundations of La Rocque Boulevard, but because of the expense, nothing was done. [13] In 1779 it was ordered that additional platforms should be erected in wood or dressed stone at places where there should be cannon, it having been found that those constructed in rough stone were inadequate for their intended use. [14] [15]

On 20 August 1755 the States ordered the Constables of St Saviour, Grouville and St Clement to repair the boulevard du nord dans la Baye du Vieux Chateau [16] From this it appears that by then all three parishes were responsible for guarding Grouville Bay.

In 1798 there was further sea damage and landowners participated in building sea walls, which extended north from the tower to the end of the present garden [17] and south to Baragone and around the corner.

The southern section was presumably replaced in the 19th century, but can be seen, in part, supporting a track running past the tower and down to the later seawall, shown in a photo from the 1930s by Emile Guiton and in the present wall to the north of the Guard House, that supported the north battery. The fact the northern wall had to be built suggests the north battery already existed, despite its absence from the 1795 Richmond Map, possibly collapsed on to the beach, at the time of the survey for the map.

Up to 1811 the fortifications of the bulwarks consisted of the tower, which was a firing platform for muskets, and an 18lb gun, the south battery with three 24-pounders which had gone into decay by 1806, but was either restored by 1811 or the guns restored to the north battery, and the north battery with two 12 pounders.

At some point between 1908 and 1911 the site of the northern battery was discernible, but was lost on the building of Granville. [18]

Firing lines and south battery wall

A photo taken from Grenville towards the tower in the 1930s shows part of the firing lines, or the south battery wall, that were destroyed during the construction of installations by the Germans during the Occupation and which are shown on the Popinjay and Richmond Maps. [19]

An earlier photo shows these firing lines ending in a substantial dressed edge that suggests a substantial random stone wall enclosed the entire battery from south to north, including the tower within its circuit and ending by the north-east corner of the Guard House. [20]

From the ‘Green Books’ photos, taken by the Germans in 1943, it is evident that the original platforms at the foot of the tower were still exposed, after they had built their installations, but evidently they later covered them in a foot or more of sand, presumably as camouflage, as in evidence from live target bullets found in the sand, the platforms being rediscovered with surviving parts of the firing lines and footings of the battery wall in 1956.

Another military building?

The Richmond Map shows another building a short distance north of the Guard House, but at right angles to it. This would not have been a good defensive orientation, relative to the coast, but at that time the site was still under military control, so this is likely to have been a store for the north battery, built either in wood or stone and evidently a temporary structure. [21]

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Other features

Some shallow steps are cut into the outcrop below the original boulevard wall. These appear to be very old and for very small feet, and they may predate the battery, or they had been cut for the shore patrol to access the dunes. [22]

Below the north battery sidewall are substantial steps cut into the rock, making the edge of the 19th century seawall, but it is not clear whether they predate it or were cut when it was built. The concrete wall making the side of the 18th century wall features in a photo from the 1930s and dates from before the Occupation, but replaced granite blocks, of the same type as at the front. [23] [24]

Private ownership

Between 1911 and 1915 portions of the site were sold by the Crown into private ownership, at first to Elie Bree of Boulevard Farm. A year or two after each purchase he sold them to Catherine Berrow. She added these to a dune she had bought from him in 1908, that had formed the northern end of Boulevard de La Rocque, to build Grenville in 1908 and 1909. [25]

A condition of the sale by the Crown was that any tower could be required to be painted on the seaward side as navigation markers for shipping, which some still are. This is still noted in the contracts, whenever one is sold on. Catherine Berrow [26] eventually added the tower, guard house and bulwarks to her garden, reuniting these various elements that had originally formed La Rocque Boulevard.

In the late 1950s Grenville was sold, but the owner retained the historic buildings and the adjacent half of the garden. [27]

In the 1920s the then owner commenced converting the Guard House into a power house [28] A cable was laid between the guard house and Grenville, but mains electricity came along the coast road and the project was abandoned.

The property was bought in 1920 by Arthur Whiston Whitehead, who sold it to Dr Charles Albert Bois in 1937. During the Occupation the Germans converted the guardroom into a cook house for the accommodation bunker, now under Le Boulevard flats, with the magazines being used to accommodate the cooks. They widened the fireplace for their field range (removing the north corbel and granite lintel at this time) and restored the chimney for their stove pipe.

A relic of their stay is a painting of a riverine scene, in the magazine that served as their bunk room. Wooden flooring was laid throughout the St Saviour magazine and guardroom, which had started to rot by the 1950s. In the later 1950s the magazines and courtyard outside were paved. [29]

Boundary Stones

The War Department (WD) stones on the southern boundary are still active and run from WD 3 to 6. [30] Property contracts up to the late 1930s refer to the other WD stones along the road and to the north as still being active. In the late 1950s the owners of Grenville and the flats donated a strip of their land for the widening of the coast road, and WD 3 was set back on the same boundary line and its new position formalised in a contract of the Royal Court.

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Lightning strikes

In 1947 the flagpole on the Tower roof was struck by lightning and shredded. The current blew apart the coping stone in which it was set, passed down the tower into the bedrock and from there through the floor of the Guard House into the abandoned powerhouse cable to Grenville. [31]

On 13 July 1757 there was an earlier lightning strike at Boulevard de la Rocque, described by Thomas Le Maistre in his ‘Note Book’: “Near the Guard House at La Rocque a little boy aged ten years was struck by lightning; he was the son of James Norman of La Ferme, and never moved from the place where he was struck, remaining stiff and dead, without other wound. The horse that he had been driving in a little cart (a bachot) was not hurt. Above the Guard House at a spot called La Carière Giffard [32] some stones were broken into pieces, and the sentry box by St Sampson’s Tower was smashed and several people saw a lot of smoke there.” [33]

The Occupation

During the Second World War, the German Occupying Forces requisitioned most of Grenville’s garden, including the historic buildings, which they designated as La Rocque B, leaving Dr C A Bois and his wife in residence at Grenville, with barbed wire strung across the front of the house, leaving just enough room for access to the front door. [34]

They also established roadblocks at Boulevard Farm and Platte Rocque, with moveable barbed-wire barriers and concrete Tobruk Positions at each end. The other installations at La Rocque B were a roofed searchlight emplacement for guiding fire onto shipping, an outside searchlight table using the same searchlight, for directing anti-aircraft fire, a small bunker under another Tobruk Position, overlooking the beach and a concrete slip-trench for rifles and heavy machinegun, on the slope to the north of the tower entrance, to cover the beach approach to an artillery position in the garden below [35]

These facilities cut into the old cannon battery platforms, leaving only one of the three untouched, with the other two surviving in part. The portions of the platforms taken up were used to reinforce and level off the coastline, before putting up their installations; the lintel from the Guard House fireplace was similarly used. This work also extinguished most of the firing lines, although part of these were re-discovered buried underground in the 1980s.

A 10.5 cm field piece was placed in Grenville’s garden on the first and final site of Boulevard du Nord, at the northern end of the 18th century sea and battery wall, with a covered slip-trench leading towards the tower. [36]

This corridor was pre-fabricated from slabs made by slave labour in Alderney and these slabs bear work-gang identification marks. They also cut through into the Tower magazine at ground level. [37] They took out the wooden floors and replaced them at their original levels with concrete, rendered the inside walls, discarded the cannon tripod on the roof and installed a heavy machine gun for anti-aircraft fire. Another field piece was located by the seawall, overlooking the beach, by the accommodation bunker, in an unroofed, walled embrasure open at the front. [38]

Fired in anger

In the period for which they were built, these towers never saw action, but at least one has fired in anger, ironically by the enemy during the Occupation of 1940-45. The neighbouring tower at Plat Rocque (Grouville No 0), fired on an American aircraft, returning from a bombing raid on St Malo. As the Americans had a few bombs left over, they decided to destroy the tower, but missed and hit private houses behind it. One of the other towers (possibly La Rocco) may have fired on passing Allied aircraft as well. So, it cannot be said these towers never fired in anger, it’s just that this was not by those intended. The battery at Plat Rocque also saw action at the Battle of Jersey, when the French who took the battery fired on approaching British troops and Militia, during their attack to retake it.


Notes and references

  1. On one occasion the tower was so identified In Thomas Le Maistre’s notes, which most likely proceeded from a clerical error, a mis-transcription of St Saviour’s guard house.
  2. Or Samson, without any reference to a saint, and so possibly designating the vraicing or other rights of a local family, but with other more prominent named rocks on the foreshore much closer to the tower, such as L’Etac du Nord (La Tas du Nord), L’Etac du Sud (Tas du Sud), La Baragonne and others Page 19 Draft Survey Booklet, Jersey Rock and Coastal Names Survey, Société Jersiaise . This led to a notion that the Guard House was a converted Dark Age chapel dedicated to St Sampson of Dol, who converted Guernsey to Christianity and took part in the Breton invasion of Armorica, then when the building was shown to have been based on a typical domestic dwelling of the 17th century, this attribution was moved to a second building shown on the Richmond Map, close to the Guard House. The citations given to support this idea have proved to be groundless and it is without foundation, an idea based on the name of a rock, that progressed from a notion to assumed fact.
  3. Unless this application came from fishermen’s huts for which baraque is commonly used, sounding in Jèrriais (with its long ‘a’) somewhat like ‘boroque’ All of these terms com from the same Catalan source for fishermen’s, workmen’s or soldiers’ huts, tool sheds or camps, and also are the origin of the English ‘barracks’)
  4. These may date from later alterations or from a lightning strike of 1757
  5. One of the rare occasions the building was referred to as the guard house and magazine of St Sampson, the other being in the contract of 1742 between the Constables of St Saviour and St Clement.
  6. The magazines still had earthen floors into the 1950s
  7. This re-roofing probably refers to the pantiles over the granite vault and not to the vault itself. If the guard room had been paved in 1787, it is possible these were of the same type as the rounded cobbles seen in the Tower magazine and that these were replaced with dressed granite setts in 1805
  8. The east gable is built on this outcrop, the rest of the building being on sand, which may have resulted in historic cracks in the stone vault by the fireplace.
  9. Suggested, although uncertain, in some 19th century photos.
  10. Possibly to replace earlier ordinance.
  11. These were Boulevard du Nordle Boulevar pres Gorey, Goré, [BSJ. 1908, p. 315] - near Gorey; Boulevard du Milieu - Middle Battery - just north of where tower No 5 was to be built, it was dismantled in 1816; and Boulevard de la Rocque at La Rocque Point.
  12. The location of Boulevart du Maresq ou de François Piroet (also the location of Grouville guard house or maison de guet) is unknown, but was also somewhere on the middle of this coast and it should be noted that marais and maresq are variations of the same word, signifying marsh or wetland. This boulevard may have been named for the vingtaine in which it stood, and the surrounding marsh, rather than for the family name Dumaresq.
  13. In 1745, sand incommoding the boulevards was to be removed, so evidently, they were still in use, nominally, at least.
  14. The rough stone to the south of the present dressed platforms may be evidence of earlier platforms in rough stone,or they may be infill added later.
  15. Later a farm was built across the road, on the dunes inland, by the water meadows, and it then acquired the dunes to the south of the tower, towards La Baragonne. This farm is shown on the Richmond and Godfray Maps, and took its name Le Boulevard from Boulevard de la Rocque. During the Occupation this farm was requisitioned and demolished by the Germans. After the Occupation, the company that bought the farm site and developed the flats over the bunker built by the Germans, and the detached houses built over the former site of the farm, took its name from the farm, and used it for the block of flats, which further complicates the matter of site identification.
  16. Presumably, this was the north battery at Boulevard de la Rocque and not the boulevard of the same name at Gorey
  17. To the start of the present later and lower 19th century sea wall, running up the bay
  18. This was presumably the remains of its northern location and not that supported by the 18th century wall, which was its last active location. This section of the 18th century wall, which may have had the dual purpose of a seawall and battery wall, sits on a rocky shelf rising from the sand. The whole edge of the Tower outcrop on this side may have been heavily quarried and remodelled when the original boulevard was first built on top of it, and later, during the building of the Guard House and the Tower, for both defensive purposes and building material, but it is possible the north battery was originally on an earth rampart at a lower level and is buried behind this wall, perhaps as a hurdle and sod embankment or of random stone, although this is pure conjecture. De Rullecourt’s reconnaissance assumed that the aforementioned seawall was a fortress wall, which supports the possibility this section of the sea wall had a dual purpose.
  19. On the latter, the firing lines extending the course of the later seawall constructed and slightly beyond, shortly after this map was published.
  20. This edge is at a lower level than expected and so may be part of an unrelated structure.
  21. As this was before the 18th century seawall had been built and it is not known if the land surface sloped down towards the beach from the Guard House embankment, it is not known at what level this other building would have been.
  22. WD No 6 is inscribed “To Sea”, indicating access across the rocks and dunes to the south, although that is centuries later. These steps may be the oldest extant feature on this site.
  23. The line of the earlier sidewall was angled outwards, landwards, and extended inland slightly. It is aligned into the bay and so undoubtedly was the front for one of the two (and at one time three) cannons on this battery, the front of the wall facing the Roads to Gorey Harbour. These steps may pre-date the 18th century wall and the lowest steps were most likely added more recently, with the sand level on the beach being higher than it is now. Given the angle of the former side wall, it is possible the top step would have been partially under it and so possibly they were cut much later (after the wall was realigned).
  24. It is not clear if the adjacent rock shelf, on which the 18th century wall stands, is the stump of a quarry step at the edge of the outcrop, originally reaching to the same height as the rest of the outcrop, or is a natural shelf at its original level. If the result of substantial quarrying, it would have pre-dated any military use and had it been left unquarried, would have rendered the need for the 18th century wall unnecessary, but most likely the outcrop sloped down to a natural shelf, at this point, topped by an accumulation of dunes.
  25. Evidently Boulevard de La Rocque had expanded over time, through the acquisition of a number of parcels of land that the British Government sold off. Earlier the whole site had passed from the parish of St Saviour to the States and, when the latter neglected the installations, to the War Department of the British Government), as with all the minor fortifications on the south and east coasts. This is why those fortifications have largely survived, with most now being in private ownership.
  26. Occasionally spelt Barrow, the wife of Edgar Courtney Carvolth
  27. The present listed site extends from the line of WD boundary stones on the southern boundary, to the bottom of the Guard House northern embankment.
  28. This is most likely when the 17th century chimney stack was taken down, and possibly when the present granite setts were installed in the guard room, if they did not date from 1805. The north corbel of the fireplace and the chimney breast were later removed by the Germans and only the south corbel remains.
  29. Some flat rough granite cobbles have been found below the soil underlying the paving. The fact that there is a step down into the Guard House suggests this may be the original paving for the courtyard, although this may have been laid in the 1950s to stabilise the ground before laying the paving (a common practice). When an electricity cable was laid through the entrance in the 1990s, a musket flint was found not far under the present paving, but more or less level with a line of dressed granite under the present threshold into the building. This would have been dropped by a Militiaman before 1800, for which, apparently, he would have been fined.
  30. WD 1 still exists, but appears to be inactive and may not be in its original position.
  31. It blew out all the electric cables and water and other pipes in Grenville. In the aftermath, the offending power-cable was removed.
  32. “Above the Guard House” could be interpreted in three ways; either it means that the Carière Giffard is located above the Guard House, being the top of the battery outcrop, between the battery and the building (although this would depend on the absence of any tower), or it is ‘above’ on the map, either to the north or inland (for which the topology is wrong), or he meant “... . Above, the Guard House at a spot called ...”, in other words, above the beach where the boy was killed, at the Guard House on Carière Giffard. It would all depend on the punctuation, if none had been used, but should have been. The significance of this incident and this detail, is in the information it provides on the use and topology of the site, before the present tower was built.
  33. It is notable that the author identifies the tower as “St Samson’s Tower” but the guard house only as “the Guard House at La Rocque”. This is curious, as the Tower had not yet been built, and it could be the author, if he was writing sometime after the event, did not know this, but this raises the possibility that the tower built in 1779 replaced an earlier tower on the same site. The term translated as ‘sentry box’ is gueritte. During the same storm, three men were thrown by a lightning strike from the top of a rock called La Petite Doguerie (Jean Giffard, Francois Filleul and another) and “La Houbie” (Hougue Bie) was struck (see Bul SJ 1967. An Eighteenth Century Diary, Thomas Le Maistre’s Note Book, by Joan Stevens pp. 251-252).
  34. They added a number of single campaign structures in concrete, well below the lowest quality of concrete construction, and probably raised by the troops stationed there.
  35. A ‘Tobruk Position’ is a static concrete structure surmounted by a tank turret, some of which were captured by the Germans at Tobruk. In this case, they were from French Renault tanks
  36. Grouville Green Book: La Rocque B 10.5 cm Kanone Vom Turmgesehen: 10.5cm cannon seen from the Tower
  37. Formerly accessed from above, through a trap-door inside the main entrance on the first floor. They did this at a number of towers they requisitioned, including Ouaisné, which they abandoned half done. Fortunately, they did not cut through the magazine’s back wall (as they did at some other towers), leaving it intact, but giving access to resurrect its use as an ammunition store.
  38. This was roofed over by Harold Le Seelleur in the 1950s, when he built the block of flats.

Sources

  • Data sheets on the Tower, Platforms and Guard House (F de L Bois)
  • Grouville Parish Treasury (notes by F de L Bois)
  • Bulletins of the Société Jersiaise (various authors)
  • The Coastal Towers of Jersey (William Davies)
  • Jersey Militia – A History (David Dorgan)
  • Jersey Place Names (Stevens, Arthur and Stevens)
  • Guard House, La Rocque, site booklet (Giles Bois)
  • Supplementary booklets 1 and 2, submission to Planning for SSI notice of intent to List, The Guard House and La Rocque Tower - GR0089. Title: The origin of speculation on a “supposed” St Sampson’s Chapel at la Rocque Point (Giles Bois).





U21LaRocqueTower19.jpg
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