19th October 1826

Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid

When Elizabeth Collage was founded in 1563, its premises seemed – if anything – actually too large. Its roll of students was often less than the number of staff in the early days.

Three and three-quarter centuries later, things were very different. It had outgrown its original site and was looking for somewhere larger. It started work on building its current site at La Grange, St Peter Port, on 19 October 1826. The building was opened for business in 1829.

Laying the foundation stone

Starting work on the new college building wasn’t as simple as digging a trench and pouring the foundation. Rather, as befitted an institution named for a queen, it was something of a ceremony.

Almost 60 dignitaries attended and watched as the Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey, Sir John Colborne, cemented a plate over a hollowed-out granite foundation stone. The stone is a time capsule containing a vase, inside which there was (and still is) a selection of British and French coins.

The December 1926 edition of The Elizabethan (PDF), the college’s in-house magazine, recounted the extraordinary events of the stone-laying day. It began with a procession from the Court House to Town Church led by trumpeters who were followed by a detachment from the Militia, pages carrying white rods, students, professors, the builder and master mason, architect, clerk, directors of the college, band of the Town Regiment, members of the States, clergy, members of the Royal Court, Lieutenant-Governor, Bailiff, island Dean and, finally, another detachment of the Militia.

They attended mass at the church then went to the site of the new college to lay the foundation stone. In the evening, they ate a sumptuous dinner at Rosetti’s Assembly Rooms to celebrate what they’d done. The bill was paid by a grant from the States Lottery.


FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.


Other events that occured in October

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st