By the 16th century the English King's main castle in Jersey, Mont Orgueil, was out of date.With the new ship-mounted cannon and gunpowder, Mont Orgueil was now vulnerable to attack from both the bay and the hill opposite. A new site was chosen on a small islet in St. Aubin's Bay to build a new castle. Sir Walter Raleigh who was Governor of Jersey-between 1600 and 1603- made it his official residence during his brief stays here and named it Elizabeth Castle after his Queen. <br>
The English Civil War
During the English Civil War, the majority of islanders were sympathetic to the Parliamentarian's cause however the Seigneurs were instinctively loyal to the English Crown that had granted them so many privileges down the centuries.
In 1643 a Parliamentary force of English and Jerseyman Roundheads besieged Elizabeth Castle held by George Carteret, the Royalist Seigneur and Governor of Jersey. The siege was repelled and in 1646 a young Charles II, then Prince of Wales, visited the island and stayed for two months as guests of the loyal seigneurs. It was at Elizabeth Castle in 1649, that King Charles II repaid this loyalty by granting Carteret an island off the coast of Virginia, he named it New Jersey.
However in 1651 an eighty strong fleet of ships led by The Roundhead Admiral Blake sailed close to the west coast of the island for two days before making a night time landing at St. Ouen. After a fierce battle, Carteret and his men retreated to Elizabeth Castle where after 50 days under siege he negotiated a surrender to the Roundheads who placed Jersey under military rule until 1660.
The Napoleonic Wars
The fact that the castle was surrounded by sea for seven out of every twelve hours was initially seen as an advantage. However, this was also its weakness as soldiers garrisoned there were unable to defend St. Helier when the causeway was covered by the tide.
In 1781 the French capitalised on this by landing with a force of 600 men at La Rocque on the south east coast and capturing the town of St. Helier with almost no resistance.
After defeating the French forces at The Battle of Jersey it was decided that a new fortification would be built above St. Helier on Mont de la Ville , now known as Fort Regent.
During the Second World War the Channel Islands were the only part of British soil to be occupied by the Nazis. As part of their plan to turn the island into an impregnable fortress, bomb shelters and gun emplacements were added by the Germans to the castle. They can still be seen as they were made with modern concrete, contrasting with the original granite.
After the sale of the castle to Jersey by the British Government in 1923, it has remained as a historical monument open to visitors. More recently it has been the scene of civic marriage ceremonies.