16th century development of Mont Orgueil Castle
During the 16th century Mont Orgueil Castle was transformed from a medieval stronghold into an artillery fortress. Within a very short period of time after about 1530 the castle was in danger of being rendered redundant by the rapid development of artillery and its increasing effectiveness in siege warfare. The captain of Mont Orgueil, Henry Cornish, writing to his patron Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and, from 1547, Duke of Somerset, in 1543 was concerned that he would not be able to defend the castle, and therefore the island, should a concerted attack be made, because 'this house was made but for spear and shield and not built for the advantage of artillery'.
From this date onwards throughout the sixteenth century, Mont Orgueil Castle was remodelled as an artillery fortress, the first line of defence in Jersey against invading forces armed with siege guns. In a period of endemic warfare between England and France it was vital that the Channel Islands were adequately defended and the enemy prevented from gaining a foothold, from which another line of attack could be opened up against mainland England, or from where raids could be made on English shipping. The response of the English government and successive governors of the islands was to refortify the castles of Jersey and Guernsey, a process that continued in phases according to the levels of funding available for the works.
It is in this context that an investigation into the remodelling of 16th-century Mont Orgueil Castle can take place. The study of the documentary evidence for the development of the castle has been ongoing since 1998, and there are now three comprehensive reports into the material in public and private archives relative to the castle from the earliest 12th century through to the 20th century records. This paper examines the 16th century structural remodelling of the castle, specifically in terrns of what can be derived from this documentary evidence.
However, although there is a relatively large corpus of documentary material regarding building campaigns at Mont Orgueil during the 16th century, the building accounts, correspondence and other official papers of this period seldom enter into much detail as to the spatial arrangement of the castle. Consequently, the documentary evidence should be used in conjunction with current studies of the historical architecture and structural archaeology of Mont Orgueil.
Only a truly interdisciplinary study of the site will elucidate the forms, functions and dating of the structural development of the castle, and help in any future interpretative analysis of the site. This paper is an attempt to consolidate the written evidence for the most important phase of remodelling in the 16th century, and to produce an assessment of the possible dating for the construction of the artillery fortifications. It is hoped that this may provide the base upon which further work and analysis can build.
The captains and governors of Jersey were, for the first time, having to consider how best to refortify Mont Orgueil Castle against the threat of artillery bombardment from the hill, as well as to cover any encroachment via Grouville Bay, where French forces had landed in 1461. At this time there was no alternative castle in a more defensible location on the island and so from the 1540s through to the 1590s, when expenditure was diverted to the new Elizabeth Castle, the remodelling of Mont Orgueil into an artillery fortress took central place. The following section demonstrates how the documentary evidence can inform an interpretation of the development of the buildings that went to make up the castle's new artillery keep.
So, on what building work was this money expended at the castle? Cornish was certainly responsible for the 'Cornish Bastion', a semi-circular bastion overlooking the lower ward to the south of the keep and bounded on its eastern side by a medieval curtain wall. It bears Cornish's shield with a date of 1547, and must be the structure referred to in a letter from Cornish to Somerset in July 1543 when he wrote: 'I have made the country bring six score loads of feyer stone to build a cross wall which would be worth the rest of the castle'.
Four years might seem to be a long time for the construction of the bastion, although the shield and date may only have been erected during a final stage of building on the platform. Alternatively, the 'cross wall' mentioned in 1543 could conceivably have been the other semi-circular bastion, now partially demolished, located to the south of the original first gate. This is similar in design to the bastion commanding the approach to the inner gate at Carlisle, built in the 1540s, but could also find parallels in the bastions at Dover, built before 1519.
Also, the tower shown on the 1755 plan at the far south of the castle has been compared to gun-towers of the early 16th century at Dover and may possibly represent a building of the 1540s. Cornish may also have been responsible for the battery being added to what has become known as the Bugros Tower, behind and above the Cornish Bastion of 1547. The Residential Apartments may also have been started by Cornish.
It is interesting to note that Cornish, in 1543, was solely concerned with the southern approaches to the castle. After telling Somerset about the cross wall he continues:
- 'If you would send a saker or a piece that would fetch at length, I might beat all sands between Grovyll and the castle, where the Frenchmen landed in the past, as it is the place where they can assemble most easily in battle and the least defensible. At present, if any ship should ride about the castle or land men I could do nothing, for this house was made but for spear and shield and not built for the advantage of artillery.'
However, apart from the Cornish Bastion, it cannot be known for certain on what structural remodelling Henry Cornish spent his £700 between 1542 and 1549. What is certain, however, is that by 1548 Cornish was constructing another artillery platform. On 12 October 1548 the captain wrote to Somerset:
- 'I have received the lime from William Knyght of Southampton and beseech you to give him a further commission so that I may be furnished from England... The front of the platform, which bounds the hill, is almost egall and has scaffolds for such pieces as I have already mounted. When this finished, as it should be within two months, you may boast of a castle impregnable and worthy to be named Munte Orguyle.'
Four days later Cornish was sending his master gunner to Somerset in order to explain the need for new guns 'necessary for the platform and brayes '. However, on 11 January 1549, Cornish's estimate of two months for the completion of the 'platform' had evidently been too optimistic, as he was now having to entreat Somerset to allow him a patent to collect and sell the lands and goods of the dissolved monasteries and friaries on the island in order that he could 'get money to finish the platform, which should be in readiness by now for the yere commythe fast onn'. There is no more mention of the construction of this platform in the correspondence. It is probable that whatever progress was made must have been before October 1549, prior to Somerset's fall from power.
Consequently it is impossible, on the evidence of the documents alone, to identify Cornish's second platform as the Somerset Tower. For when Cornish wrote 'The front of the platform, which bounds the hill, is almost egall', what hill did he mean? Mount St Nicholas or the 'hill' of Mont Orgueil? Does 'egall' mean as high as the hill (whichever is meant) or that the whole parapet will have risen to the same height? The wording of Cornish's letter of 12 October 1548 is too ambiguous on its own to pinpoint the structure's location or type.
In December 1549 Cornish was relieved of his duties as Somerset's lieutenant in Jersey and captain of Mont Orgueil, and replaced by Sir Hugh Paulet, who was made full governor with executive powers. On 6 December 1549 an inventory of all ordnance and stores at the castle was compiled on the handover from Cornish to Paulet. The inventory begins with a description of ordnance located on two structures described as independent buildings, the 'Mounte' and the 'Dongeon':
- Upon the Mounte
- Two culveryns of Iron
- Two demy culveryns of iron
- Two sacres yron
- Upon the Dongeon tower
- A basterd sacre of brasse
- A fawcoy of brasse
This would suggest that there were two keep-like structures at Mont Orgueil by the end of 1549. The dongeon must refer to the same building mentioned in December 1542 as a ruinous 'dungeon', and 'scarse abyll to byde a hagboshe'. But if this was the original medieval keep tower later to be replaced by the Somerset Tower, then what is the structure referred to as the 'mounte' in the inventory? It could refer to the two-storey Medieval Great Hall/St Mary's Chapel, which, according to the 1755 section had a flattened roof platform that would have been able to support the two culverin cannon (about 3m in length) and the four smaller demi-culverin cannon and iron sakers (small cannon, usually 1-2m in length).
Alternatively, the dongeon could refer to the medieval Square [Corbelled] Tower, and the 'mounte' to Cornish's new platform after the completion of the Cornish Bastion in 1547. This argument is strengthened by the fact that there were only two iron sakers (small cannon) in the entire castle according to the inventory and that both had been sent by Somerset in 1547 'for the newe plotfourrne'.
Of course, we do not know for certain where this new platform was being constructed, and even the further piece of evidence from the 1549 inventory that there were four heavy, long-range guns on the 'flanker undre the mounte' cannot locate the mount with any precision, largely because of the diverse meaning of the word 'flanker' at this date. It could refer to the flanking wall and platform that later became the Grand Battery at the north end of the castle, or to an addition to what is now known as the Busgros Tower above the Cornish Bastion.
The problem with the inventory as a historical document is that its primary purpose was to record the amount of ordnance and other stock being transferred to the care of the new governor, not to be a detailed survey of the castle's structural layout. Any structural reading of the inventory must also take into account the likely route of those commissioned to record the ordnance. Unfortunately, there can be no guarantee that they were taking a logical circuit around the upper castle - their first concern was to record the ordnance in an approximate order of importance. Consequently, the inventory has to be used with extreme caution as definitive evidence as to the structural layout of the castle in 1549.
In sum, while it seems possible that the 'mounte' of 1549 did constitute a remodelling of the original medieval keep, it was probably not the Somerset Tower. Cornish did not have the funds available to build such an edifice between 1542 and 1549, and the building of the 'new platform' after 1547 was never funded to the extent that it would have had to have been during the inflationary late 1540s if it were to be the artillery keep it later became. Writing some 35 years later, the anonymous chronicler of Jersey stated that Henry Cornish did indeed begin the building of 'la grande Tour du Chateau de Mont-Orgueil', but also claimed that it was made during the governorship of Hugh Paulet, and that he obtained the 'grosses pieces d'artillerie' to furnish it during the reign of Elizabeth: that is, at some point between November 1558 and Hugh's death in 1573:
- 'Le dit Henry Cornishe en son temps fist commencer la grande Tour du Chateau de Mont-Orgueil, laquelle Tour on l'appeloit pour le Dongeon, mais a present on l'appelle le Mont ... Le dit Sire Hugh Powlet durant le temps qu'il fut Capitaine de la dite Isle de Jersey, il fist faire la grosse Tour du Chateau de Mont Orgueil, laquelle Tour est appelee le Mont. .. Il obtint de la Majeste de la Royne plusiers grosses pieces d'artillerie, tant de fonte que de fer, qu'il fit placer au dit Chateau sur la Tour, ou autrement appelee le mont, et en plusieurs autres endroits, et tout autor du dit Chateau.'
For the period 1550 -1567 there is a series of surviving building accounts for Hugh Paulet's building campaigns at the castle. These consist of the unaudited accounts drawn up during the 1560s and subsequently sent to the Lord Treasurer William Cecil (later Lord Burghley), where they have remained in the Cecil archive at Hatfield House. They include also the government exchequer and audit account rolls delineating the receipts of Hugh Paulet and his expenditure on Mont Orgueil Castle between 1550 and 1567. These were drawn up in 1573 or 1574, soon after Hugh Paulet's death, and are held in the Public Record Office in London.
The exchequer account (the audit is an almost exact copy of the exchequer version) delineates the money allocated to Hugh Paulet and details the various types of expenditure made on refortifying the castle, which comes to a total of £4,010 12s 7d over the 17-year period. Although actual expenditure can be further increased by over £457, spent on commissioners' costs and for the billeting and wages of 100 soldiers between August 1563 and January 1564. Listed among the main expenditures at this time is over £864 for 1264 tons of lime for building, almost £111 for timber for various uses, £34 for nearly 5 tons of lead (to add to the 20 tons assigned by the Treasury), over £69 for nearly 7 tons of iron, £35 for 144 quarters of scaffolding poles with £2 worth of hemp cord to tie the poles, over £16 for brass, £28 for ropes, £13 for 44,000 rooftiles, and almost £170 for many other sundries such as pots, cartwheels, glass, scythes, lime-caskets, locks and bolts, spades, pickaxes, bricks for chimneys, staves, brooms and diverse other equipment and utilities for the rebuilding and maintenance of the castle.
The wages of the workmen through this period came to £1,792 2s 5½d.
No exact dates are possible for when this expenditure took place during the 17-year period. But there had evidently been a need for swift injections of cash at various points during the remodelling campaigns, for there appears a sub-section in the receipts entitled 'Reddy money receved and hadd of Treasouror and chamberlaines of the exchequer. By thande of the tellors then ymprested to be ymployed upon the fortifications of the castle of Mountorguille '
These payments were made at the following times: £300 on 12 June 1558; £300 on 24 April 1559; £46 4s 1½d on 11 May 1559; £300 on 21 June 1561; and £1,000 on 16 June 1566: the sum total being £1,712 17s 5½d. There is also a breakdown of payments made to Paulet for disbursements upon fortifications during the reigns of the three monarchs during the period: £1,254 13s 11d during part of Edward VI's reign (January 1550 until July 1553), £553 2s 4d during Mary's reign (July 1553 to November 1558), and £2,659 18s 3d during nine years of Elizabeth's reign (November 1558 to August 1567), making a total of £4,467 14s 8d. This makes it clear that the two main periods of structural remodelling during the 17-year timespan were 1550 to 1551 and 1558 to 1567.
This expenditure can be further broken down by reference to an account that survives in the Cecil archive, listing the total amounts of expenditure on the castle from January 1550 until September 1563. This shows that a little over £2,777 was expended on building work during this period, just over £1,000 during the first two years of Paulet's governorship. There was certainly a great deal of building work happening before 1552, part of which definitely included the construction of the Mount Gate, which bears an eroded inscription which once carried the date 1551. These building account totals are not broken into regular accounting periods until 1560-63 when they become standardised Michaelmas to Michaelmas accounrs.
This makes any representation of the data from these accounts problematic, as each period varies from as little as 24 weeks to as much as 130 weeks. The data has therefore been broken into total expenditure for each accounting period and then also into an average weekly expenditure during those same periods. Evidently the expenditure was not spread evenly over each period, but the limitations of the sources have dictated the tabular representation of the data.
The accounts in the Cecil archive end in September 1563, but the Exchequer account for the whole period 1550 to 1567 allows the expenditure graph to be taken through until its stated terminus in August 1567. This has been achieved by using the known figure for expenditure in this account, £4,010 12s 7d (so as not to include the £457 2s 8d for commissioners' costs and soldiers' billeting and wages) and subtracting from it the known sum of expenditure through to 20 September 1563; £2,777 1s 6½d.
This gives a total expenditure between 20 September 1563 and 1 August 1567 of a little over £1,233, averaging out at £6 1s 7d per week. Building work would not have proceeded during all of the 46 months in the account, but it is not possible to break down accurately expenditure in this period in any greater degree. There was probably little work carried out until March 1564, when Hugh Paulet requested £500 and materials for a new building project.
And the £1,000 sent by Queen Elizabeth in June 1566 may indicate that most of the work happened in the final year of the account (Lune 1566 to August 1567). But we cannot know with any certainty whether the money was for work already begun or whether it was money given in advance of a project to be completed from 1566.
If we can assume that the Somerset Tower was not complete by the end of 1549, the accounts would seem to suggest that it was built in either one of two periods: 1550-51 or 1563-67. The £1,000 invested in building between January 1550 and January 1552 represents a considerable amount of work on the castle. But the documentary evidence does not make explicit the works being carried out at this time. There are commissions and receipts for lime and for gun carriages throughout 1550, but we cannot know what building works are represented by their expense. With the Mount Gate dated to 1551, it may be possible to suggest that the Guard Tower formed part of this phase of building, as the NE corner of the Guard Tower is formed by the edge of the Mount Gate. The artillery-proof residential apartments may also have formed part of the 1550-52 building campaign, strengthening the southern defences of the castle.
After 1552 expenditure on the remodelling of the castle was severely reduced until June 1558 when Queen Mary sent a warrant for £300 to Hugh Paulet, telling him that 'We thank you for your care in defence of the isle, and like your device for the fortification, wishing you to put it into effect with diligence'. Whatever this 'device' was, expenditure on the castle increased again through 1558 and during the first years of Elizabeth's reign until 1560 as the threat of a French invasion caused more concern. There then seems to have been a lull until June 1562, when there was evidently renewed concern as to the state of the castle's defences. A Commission was appointed, consisting of Hugh Paulet, Richard Worsely, George Mylls and Peter Smythe, to survey the castle:
- 'For as muche as we are geven to understand that our castel of Jersey and fortifficacions yn and about the same are at this present yn great Ruyne the wiche without spedye Repairyng are like shortly to growe ynto great Decaye. [The commission was to] veue surveye serche and deserne aswell our sayd castel in our Isle of Jersey with the walles vaimures towers bulwarks blockhowsses platformes mounts greaties fortresses diches trnches as also all other fortificacions and things made and ordeyned for the deffence and saveguarde of the same castell or Isle and all decayed places belonging unto them.'
The actual survey is not known to survive, but the commissioners' report does seem to have resulted in a renewed effort in refortifying the Jersey defences. This included the first attempt to fortify the islet off St Helier, later to become Elizabeth Castle, where in October 1562 'ordinance and munitions in the new fort of the islet' included three culverins and three demi-culverins with powder. This would seem not to have been much more than a small bulwark at this date, and there is little or no subsequent expenditure recorded on fortifying the islet until the 1590s.
The dearth of building activity at Mont Orgueil in 1563 may have been due to an outbreak of plague, brought to the garrison by returned soldiers, throughout the summer of that year, and it is likely that the 1563 account discussed above was rendered at this time because there had been little work done through the summer months, while the commissioners' survey had suggested a new scheme of work to be undertaken in the following year.
There was certainly the expectation of renewed activity in March 1564 when Hugh Paulet asked Lord Cecil Burghley for the money, £500, and materials, ten oaks and twenty elms and also various casks of gunpowder, towards the fortification of Mont Orgueil:
- 'Itm that yt may please the quens matie to employ towardes the fortyfycacions and necessarye repayres of the said castle this yere coming upon the places here-tofore surveyed and chyfyed by plac upon the veiw therof, by master Rychard Worsley cappne of thisle of Wight, master William of Hakpton, master Peter Hughes and Richard Papengaye surveyr of the quenes maties worke at Portesmouthe appointed by comyssyon there unto the some of VC li.'
The large increase in expenditure on the building campaigns of 1564-67 suggests that there was a major project underway at the castle during this period. It would also seem likely that the military engineer Richard Popinjay took part in its execution. He had been involved in the survey instigated in 1562, had produced the fine map of Jersey dated to 1563, and had been in Guernsey between April and July 1564 overseeing the reconstruction of the west wall of the medieval southern bailey at Castle Cornet to create an artillery-resistant bulwark. This resulted in the construction of Chamberlain's Mount, a rubble and earth filled bulwark that could be paralleled both with the Somerset Tower and with the Grand Battery at Mont Orgueil.
From 1567 there was a cessation of any major building works at Mont Orgueil for the next seven years. Evidently the major campaign of 1564-67 had either reached a satisfactory conclusion or there was a shortage of funds available for continuing the work. A letter from Amias Paulet (at this time still Lieut-Governor to his father) to Cecil in August 1567 suggests that it was perhaps the latter, because despite assuring the council that the fortifications were 'avaunced to as good height and perfectyon as the moneys receyved from the Quenes Matle sume extend unto', he was also requesting further funds as 'our walles do want the third parte or more of their full perfecryon'.
However, there is no explicit clue in the documentary evidence as to the exact nature of these walls or the structural remodelling of the castle during this period. Only in the 1573-74 Exchequer account are we given any indication as to the nature of Hugh Paulet's expenditure on the castle. Amias Paulet, now the new Governor after his father's death, explains his father's expenses (until 1567 when Amias took over the management of the castle) in the following words:
- 'Allowed to the sayde accomptaunte for money by theforesayd Sir Hugh Poulett payd and defrayed within the tyme of this accompte aswell for dyverse and sundry kynde of emptions and provisions as for wages of artificers, workmen and labourers, freighte carradges and dyverse other charges growing in and about newe erecting of a mounte or a keepe within the sayd castell and for the fortifyinge of the sayd castell as well in newe walles and bulwarkes as in the reparing of the walles and bulwarkes which wer ther before and also for the newe making of peare or cawsey ther'.
This 'newe erecting of a mounte or a keepe within the sayd castell' strongly suggests that it was the Somerset Tower that had been recently built, during the 1564-67 campaign. If this is correct then the Grand Battery to the north and west of the tower - which is probably of two phases but definitely later than the Somerset Tower, since the rear eastern wall of the battery is contoured exactly to fit the profile of the Somerset Tower - must post-date 1567. It follows that the construction of both sections of the Grand Battery was probably started in or after 1574.
In January 1573, before the completion of the Exchequer account discussed above, Amias Paulet wrote to Cecil Burghley evidently not confident that the recent peace with France was going to hold, and keen to ensure that funding was going to be made available for the further re-fortification of Mont Orgueil. Paulet tells Cecil:
- 'I herein forwarde the certificate for thinges seeming nedfull for the better surety of the Castle and Isle of Jersey, under his charge in this tyckell and suspected time. Your Lordship is much deceived - considering the depthe of the foundation, the height and thickness of the walles, besides the rampartes, and the charges of the lyme brought out of Normandye for the pennye - if a greater piece of work hath been done for the like summe ... I beseeche my Lordships consideration of the premises so as this good beginninge maye not be left unfinished.'
By December 1573, after Hugh's death, Amias was again attempting to secure funding for the continued refortification of the castle, much as he had done in 1567. He describes the latest phase of fortification as 'a very necessarye and stronge peece of worke begonne there fower or fyve yeares past and wanting yet the thirde parte or more of his full proportion'. While it is odd that Amias describes what were evidently the same fortifications as he wrote about in 1567 as being 'begonne there fower or fyve yeares past' in 1573, this probably represents the reissuing of a standard request, first formulated in 1567, repeating the earlier phrase. In the same letter Amias requests £800 of the Queen's Council over the next two years, and also:
- 'for fower tonnes of lead for the covering of the gonners rome at the flancker in the newe fortificacion conteyning in length xxxv foote and in bredthe xv foote. Also for other fower tonnes of lead for the covering of the platforme of the chappell conteyning in length xl foote and in bredthe xx foote.'
The 'gonners room' has not been identified with any certainty at the castle. If the site of The Hall in the 1755 plan and section was serving a military rather than domestic purpose in 1573 then it is possible that this was the area to be roofed. However, although this space is indeed about 35 feet in length, it is not 15 feet in width, and its description as being located 'at the flancker' also causes problerns. The top storey of the residential apartments may also be a candidate for the 'gonners room', its roof being a closer fit for the measurements given in Amias' request. Although the fine 16th-century fireplace in this room, and the lack of any other chamber of similar distinction in the keep, would suggest that it has always been the captain's chamber.
The phrase 'platforme of the chappell' suggests that there was a gun platform on the roof of the chapel in question. The measurements do correspond with those of the building known today as St Mary's Chapel or the Medieval Great Hall, rather than St George's Chapel in the middle ward, which they do not match. This depends on St Mary's Chapel being correctly identified as such by Nicolle, and also what sort of guns were meant to be placed on the platform. The low-pitched roof of St Mary's Chapel, with a timber platform, would have been able to take saker or demi-culverin cannons, but not 13-foot culverins. There is also an obvious parapet shown on the seaward side, not repeated to the west.
In a plan that formed part of the 1680 survey of the castle the only buildings shown with lead roofing are the Hall, the Residential Apartments and St Mary's Chapel/Medieval Great Hall. It seems very likely that no further expensive large-scale roofing took place in the century after the 1570s and so the three buildings shown with lead roofing in 1680 are the most likely to have been the subject of Amias Paulet's request. Although by 1680 neither St Mary's Chapel in the keep nor St George's Chapel in the Middle Ward are shown with guns placed on them.
It is not until May 1574 that there is evidence for another campaign of building work taking place at the castle. This Exchequer account produced by Amias Paulet specifically states that arrearages (which have been underwritten) date from the previous account of his father Hugh's, and therefore no extra cash is accounted for between the termination of that account in August 1567 and the new expenditure allowed in this account, which accounts for 'fortifications of the saide castle' from 22 May 1574 to 25 September 1575.
Amias received £600 during this period, out of which his biggest expenditure was for just over 384 tons of lime at a cost of £327 2s 6½d. 'Longe stones', 'coigne stones', 'pavinge stones', 'water stones' and quarry stone from Mont Mado in St John's parish were purchased with carriage, as were all the usual accoutrements of a major building campaign such as timber, scaffolding, lime-burners, rope, carts, spades, nails etc. In all this building campaign cost almost £690, representing one of the most intensive periods of remodelling at the castle since 1550, although the real level of expenditure would have been less due to the inflated price of timber and lime during the period of the account. In the account for the period 1550 and 1567 each pound sterling purchased on average 1.57 tons of lime, whereas between 1574-75 each pound purchased an average of 1.35 tons.
In August 1576 Amias Paulet was appointed Ambassador to France and it would seem that during his prolonged periods of absence and the relatively peaceful climate of the late 1570s and early 1580s there was again a lull in building at Mont Orgueil. Despite a steady provision of munitions to the castle, major building work at the castle did not begin again until March 1583. Another Exchequer account (again running on directly from the previous account terminating in 1575) records expenditure on a further campaign of building work between 2 March 1583 and 19 November 1586. Again £600 was supplied by the Queen's Council, and the expenditure ran to almost £670 on the usual materials such as lime, stone, wood and utensils. The largest expense was again for the lime, which cost £342 11s lOd for just over 400 tons. However, the longer timespan of this campaign (44 months) meant that expenditure was less intense than during the 1574-75 period of remodelling.
Also recorded in this account was the expenditure of £10 for 'breakinge doune of olde walles and bankes'. This may have been the western medieval curtain wall of the castle in course of demolition for the new fortification of the Grand Battery to be constructed. This was built in two phases, with the southernmost section being the earliest. Whether any more work was carried out on the unfinished Somerset Tower during these 44 months is not known for certain.
But it seems likely that it was the Grand Battery by this date that was receiving most of the new funding as Amias attempted to create a modern artillery shield against the approach from Gorey and from Mount St Nicholas to the NW. This was developed more successfully in the northern section of the battery, where there was evidently no reliance on the medieval curtain wall to form part of the structure, such as there had been in the southern section which used the old curtain wall as a west wall and incorporated two medieval interval towers in its fabric. The demolition of walls and banks may therefore represent a programme of clearance prior to the construction of the northern section of the Grand Battery between 1583 and 1586.
A document that sheds particular light on the details of the programmes of building during the 1570s and 1580s is a letter dated 20 January 1584, in the middle of the building campaign described in the last Exchequer account, from Amias Paulet to Lord Burghley. Paulet was trying to procure funds from the Council for a renewed building campaign and tells Burghley that he thinks:
- 'the best meanes to staye the enemye from the attempt of this isle is to fortyfye the castle to his full perfectyon, or at the least to suche reasonable strengthe as there might be no hope to wynne yt without a dangerous and chargeable siege, and then all circumstances considered yt maye be affyrmed that the Frenche will never be so folyshe to make the attempt. Yt semyth that the strengthe and force of this castle consystethe altogethere in two curtyns with the flankers belonging which are of that part of the castle which is towarde the land, all the other part of the same being envyroned with the sea, the one of these curtyns wanting yet the third part or thereaboutes of his full perfectyon (the weaknes wherof is apparent to all the Frenche whiche pass by the sea under the castle) and the other curtyn standeth yet uppon his old ruynous and rotten walles.'
The 'two curtyns with the flankers belonging' probably represent the Somerset Tower and the Grand Battery. From Amias' description, it seems most likely that the curtain wall that 'standeth yet uppon his old ruynous and rotten walles' was the unfinished Grand Battery, still, at the beginning of 1584, requiring funding to be completed. If this is correct then the structure 'wanting yet the third part or thereaboutes of his full perfectyon' would have had to have been the Somerset Tower, still not taken to its full height even as late as 1584.
Amias Paulet died in September 1588. Probably as a result of this another two requests for funds were made to the Privy Council in late 1588 for the £72 arrears due from the last accounting period (1583-86) and also for a further £800 over the next two years. This was to fund the same 'strong piece of work' left a third unfinished that is stated to have been 'begun there long since', and also for fortifications in the castle in the 'most needful places'.
The request also repeats the need for lead to cover the gunners' room and the platform of the chapel, and so it is likely that these requests were made by someone unfamiliar with the precise state of the castle defences but aware of the need to complete them, simply repeating the wording of the older documents. If this was not the case we would have to accept that the gunners' room and the platform chapel had remained unroofed since 1567 and that the Somerset Tower was still not at its full height in 1588. While not impossible, this seems unlikely. In view of the cessation of major building work at the castle after 1593 (see below) it is more probable that only the Grand Battery's northern section remained incomplete by this date.
Over the next five years Arnias' son, Anthony Paulet, was Governor of the island and because of the threat from Spain there were constant cargoes of munitions to the castle from the mainland. By spring 1593 preparations were being made for completing fortifications at the castle in the face of renewed threats from both France and Spain. Lord Burghley allocated £500 'for the works at Jersey' and lead and timber (and munitions) were to be conveyed to the island for the purpose. At this point, May 1593, the engineer Paul Ivy was appointed to oversee the completion of fortifications at the castle at the considerable stipend of lOs per day. Ivy probably took responsibility for completing the Grand Battery fortifications during the summer of 1593 when Anthony Paulet informed Burghley that he and Ivy 'travail daily' about the castle.
Ivy, however, was soon expressing severe reservations as to the military worth of Mont Orgueil Castle:
- '300 li will make it as defensible as it wille be made, and were it not in respecte of the loss of the great charges that Her Majtle hath heretofore been at and bestowed upon this place I durst not bee of the opinion that one pennye should be bestowed upon it, for it is so evil a situated place as it cannot possibley be worse.'
In September 1593 the Privy Council took Ivy's advice:
- 'We have been credibly informed that the Castle is very ill-seated, being neither frontier citadel nor serviceable for the retreat of poor inhabitants in case of need; nor standing near Roade, Haven, Harbour, or other place of descent, but most dangerously amongst wild sunken rocks, is fit to offend the enemy or to receave succour. And towards the land lyeth subject to a mighty hill but four hundred foot distant, and soe overtopt and commanded by it that noe man can show his face in deffence of this syde next the hill, besides many unperfect deffences which give us good cause to think Her Majesty's charges allready imployed in fortifying this Castle to be small purpose. And therefore doe require you forthwith to deale with Mr Pawle Eve, purposely sent into those parts, and having his advice, to consider of the strength of it, and what were meete to be done that neither Her Majesty nor the inhabitants be put to any idle expence.'
From this point the major funding for fortification in Jersey was transferred from Mont Orgueil Castle to Elizabeth Castle 'at the islet' off St Helier. From October 1593 building work began in earnest on the new castle and the Grand Battery at Mont Orgueil was left uncompleted. This fits well with the evidence from structural remains that the Grand Battery was unfinished in the final phase of the building. An Exchequer account covering the period 25 March 1590 to 20 October 1594 describes building expenses 'growinge about ye fortifienge of St Hillaries Islett Rocheforde and other places within the saide islande:.' Rochefort Tower is due east of the Grand Battery in the NE outworks of the castle, and expenditure on it in this account may well represent the final expenditure on the Grand Battery as well.
However, although the expenditure is largely undifferentiated, it is clear that the vast majority of the £884 6s 9½d expended over the 4½ years went towards constructing the new castle. Especially expensive was the ferrying to and from the islet of workmen and also the cost of extra carriage for building materials. At the end of the accounting period in 1594, Peter Byson was paid 33s 6d for 'cuttinge and carvinge the Queenes Majties armes in stone and for settinge ye same over ye iron gate' at the castle.
It was a symbolic end to a period of 60 years when Mont Orgueil Castle was transformed from a medieval citadel into an evolving artillery fortress, but finally lost its place as the pre-eminent fortification on the island to the more conveniently and appropriately located Elizabeth Castle.
Mont Orgueil Castle was certainly not entirely abandoned as an artillery fortress in the years following 1593. Throughout the 17th century there were repairs made to the castle structure and various surveys carried out into the state of the defences, the latest being the 1680 survey, when the castle was drawn in plan and section and various sketches made of its prospect. A garrison was maintained at the castle and munitions and ordnance were kept at the cost of the Crown. But until the end of the century the castle was used primarily as a prison and served only a limited role in the defence of Jersey.
However, this relatively swift descent in military significance should not detract from the importance attached to the castle throughout the 16th century as the most important defensive structure on the island. Its main purpose was as a garrisoned fortress to deflect the French threat to the Channel Islands that were an almost constant presence from the 1540s. From this time until the 1590s Mont Orgueil underwent an expensive structural transformation that turned it from a medieval castle, built to withstand sieges and pre-gunpowder military technology, into an artillery fortress where each phase of remodelling had the primary purpose of making the castle defendable against the guns of an enemy.