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.


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