Driving In Guernsey
Guernsey differs slightly from the UK in some of its driving laws, particularly the maximum speed limit which is 35 mph on main roads and 25 mph within the towns.
There are a few other rules specific to the Islands and you can access the local government's website regarding these by clicking HERE
French and English Influences
This is really just an excuse to use this pic but it isn't entirely gratuitous. This is one of the displays from the Castle Cornet History Museum with some examples of the period pottery used around the 18th-19th centuries.
What's interesting (well to me anyway) is that the French contributions are the cooking pots and the serving dishes whilst the English provided the beer mugs and chamber pots.
Pinch yourself - this is not England
"An island of contrasts"
St Peter Port has an ever changing skyline with many new offices built over the past few years to house the financial enterprises who are drawn by beneficial taxation rules. For those employed by these giants the island has made big changes to cater for new well heeled tastes. It is nowadays not difficult to find up market restaurants with modernistic furniture and faux Michelin starred service. But on the other hand, you can still wallow in the old port feel of the island town with its typical friendly bars and beers that are locally brewed and cheaper than the 'mainland'.
St. P P does change but the town continues to show all that is best in Guernsey and is essential visiting for anybody coming to the Channel Islands.
Castle Cornet - Part #2
Between (and sometimes during) the various wars the castle was involved in it was often used as a prison. One of the most notable prisoners was General Sir John Lambert, one of Cromwell's staunchest supporters, who was incarcerated here from 1661 to 1670 following the end of the English Civil War.
His sentence was to be "banished to a barbarous and distant place" but it seems that this amounted to a sort of "house arrest" within the castle walls. As a keen gardener he spent his time laying out and planting formal gardens which have been restored in recent years with one of the main ones taking on his name.
In its early years the castle was manned, literally, by its English garrison but in Tudor times, when the castle was substantially expanded, accomodations were built for the soldier's families and the Governor of Guernsey's quarters.
In 1672 the castle's keep was struck by lightning setting off a massive explosion as its gunpowder store caught fire. This resulted in the destruction of the Governor's residence and the death of his wife and of his mother, along with several others.
Since then the Governors of Guernsey have stayed on the mainland whilst the castle garrison was further expanded and in the mid-18th century new married quarters were built behind harbour-facing wall. These are now used for the cafe and to host the Guernsey Maritime Museum.
The castle's whole "raison d'etre" is its commanding position at the entrance to the harbour which also has its own natural defencies provided by the various islets through which invading ships would have to navigate relatively slowly.
The last major British developements of the castle were towards the end of the 19th century when longer range gunnery was deployed. The gun emplacements for these are early examples of the use of reinforced concrete.
With its 700 years of history the castle has all sorts of little niches where bits have been added. This is the 18th (??) century clock tower with its original workings and bell and is also used as a small exhibition space.
The last military use of the castle was during the German WW2 occupation of the Channel Islands. A small German garrison was stationed here and the defensive capabilities upgraded to include anti-aircraft gunnery and air-raid shelters.
It seems to have been quite a lonely, and not particularly exciting, posting and the troops were forbidden to fraternise with the locals. The new gun positions were given German girl's names and so I suppose a typical conversation would involve who was sleeping with Emma tonight ;)
For a full history the main "Story of Castle Cornet" museum in the castle grounds is well worth a visit - see my "Things to Do" Tip.