26th June 1891

Guernsey bought Fort Grey from the War Office

Fort Grey is so much a part of Guernsey, it seems incredible now that the island actually had to buy it.

On 26 June 1891, the States of Deliberation agreed to proceed with the purchase of what’s now better known as Fort Grey, but was then more formally Rocquaine Castle, after the tidal bay in which it is situated.

Fort Grey

The British government had given the States the option to buy Fort Grey the previous November. Naturally, it needed to have it valued. Nonetheless, in the interim, a motion was passed and quoted in the following day’s issue of The Star:

That the States do purchase Rocquaine Castle, and causeway, authorising the Coast Committee to buy it for such a price as they think reasonable.

What constituted a “reasonable” price was tricky to determine. The issue had arisen because the causeway was falling into disrepair, and the War Office seemed reluctant to put it right. It therefore gave Guernsey the option to buy it at less than market value. However, there were conditions attached. If it paid less than the fort was worth, it was obligated to devote it to public purposes. Further, should that public use come to an end it would have to be returned to the War Office.

It is likely that the Fort’s current status as a shipwreck museum would constitute public use.

In the end, the States of Guernsey took posession of the fort for the princely sum of £185. Both the fort and its slipway are protected monuments

History of Fort Grey

Fort Grey had been built at the start of the 19th century to defend against a potential French invasion. It sits on the site of the smaller Chateau de Rocquaine. Its construction was ordered by Lieutenant-Governor John Doyle. Doyle had been appointed in 1803, the year before work on the fort began.

Fort Grey was given its current name in honour of Earl Charles Grey, Governor of Guernsey from 1797 until 1807.


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Other events that occured in June

Cricketer Charles Grieve died in Shropshire 1st
St Johns undertook its first Guernsey rescue 2nd
Bailiff John Guille died in Plymouth 3rd
GUNS writer Joseph John Gillingham was deported 4th
First arrests were made at Guernsey Airport 5th
Jethou was put on the market 6th
The king and queen celebrated Guernsey’s liberation 7th
Occupying forces confiscated Guernsey’s radios 8th
Guernsey Railway company ceased operations 9th
Guernsey welcomed its first steam ship 10th
Laura Kennington kicks off Channel Islands triathlon 11th
Dame Sibyl became a dame again 12th
Guernsey voted to legalise local abortions 13th
Victor Hugo’s house is opened to the public 14th
The Channel Islands were demilitarised 15th
Guernsey was invaded by Colorado beetles 16th
States Telephone Department was established 17th
Pollet guest house fire claimed its third victim 18th
Aurigny founder Derrick Bailey died 19th
Guernsey joined the Football Association 20th
Guernsey’s school children were evacuated 21st
Guernsey celebrated Queen Victoria’s jubilee 22nd
Princess Elizabeth opened Guernsey’s hospital 23rd
Guernsey chose England over France 24th
First meeting of Guernsey’s Controlling Committee 25th
Guernsey bought Fort Grey from the War Office 26th
Guernsey coffee trader William Le Lacheur died 27th
G-JOEY completes his last flight 28th
Guernsey suffered its first and only air raid
The Star was published for the first time 29th
Two deserters were shot after landing on Guernsey 30th